The Chinese-made Polo GTI went on sale Wednesday with a price tag of 158,900 Yuan. With honeycomb front grille, red trim, and checkered seat covering, it looks almost identical with the 5-door European version. And yet it is weaker in substance, powered by a 96kW 1.4T rather than the 132kW 1.4L Twincharger engine. The Chinese version has a 0-100km/h time of 9 seconds, compared with the 6.9 seconds for the European.
To reduce costs as well as to adapt to local road conditions, the Polo GTI from Shanghai-Volkswagen comes standard with 16-inch rather than 17-inch wheels; gets the same headlight design as Cross Polo, thus omitting LED daytime running lights, Xenon headlights, and headlight washers; and leaves out multi-function steering wheel and cruise control.
For the reduced features, many find the latest Polo overpriced and unmarketable. If Shanghai-Volkswagen’s real intention behind the release is to refresh the Polo marque, that attempt may backfire as consumers are increasingly fed up with the joint venture’s dishonesty in providing watered-down China-only models.