17 May 2023 ~ 2 Comments

Volkswagen celebrates Polo GTI quarter century with limited Polo GTI Edition 25

The 48-year-old Golf GTI may be Volkswagen’s most revered sporting hatchback, but the Polo GTI has been offering a similar recipe in a smaller package for just under three decades now. Volkswagen is recognising this fact with the new Polo GTI Edition 25 model announced today. On sale on 1 June, the 2023 Volkswagen Polo GTI Edition 25 will be priced from €35,205.

The first Polo GTI went on sale in 1998 as a special edition of the then third-generation Polo, enjoying a limited production run of 3,000 units and German market-only availability. The hot Polo story began in 1979, though, with the 1,272cc, 60bhp Polo GT and went on to include the now fondly remembered supercharged 113bhp Polo G40.

Host of unique features
In a similar style to the numerous Golf GTI special editions that have punctuated the hot hatch’s career, the Polo GTI Edition 25 features a host of unique features. And like that original Polo GTI, the Polo GTI Edition 25 is a limited-run model, with only 2,500 units being produced. Power is the same at 204bhp (207PS/152kW), with the same running gear as the standard Polo GTI including ‘XDS’ electronic differential lock and 15mm lower suspension than a ‘standard’ Polo.

Where the Polo GTI Edition 25 differs most to the standard Polo GTI is in both visual and kit enhancements. Externally, 18-inch ‘Adelaide’ alloy wheels finished in gloss black join the usual red-trimmed grille and red brake calipers, with the roof and door mirror caps also gaining the dark finish.

Ascot Grey paint debut
In the initial press images, a repeating honeycomb graphic similar in style to that of the 2021 Golf GTI Clubsport 45 adorns the lower part of the front doors, the rear doors featuring a ‘25’ logo. Ascot Grey is added to the Polo GTI colour palette for the first time, the Polo GTI Edition 25 also available in the standard shades of Deep Black Pearl Effect, Kings Red Metallic, Pure White, Reef Blue Metallic and Smoke Grey Metallic.

Step inside, and a ‘One of 2500’ sill plate signifies that the Polo GTI Edition 25 is something a little more special – there is no true personalised number, though. The standard ‘Jacara’/’Clark’ tartan seat trim has been junked, the sports seats trimmed in perforated black and red leather with stitched-in ‘GTI’ logos.

Black and red inserts
Upfront, the usual ‘Deep Iron Grey’ coloured dashpad has been replaced with a gloss black insert with red highlights around the air vents and door handles, as well as a red ‘GTI’ logo ahead of the passenger. The multifunction steering wheel – to which the paddleshifts for the seven-speed DSG gearbox are attached – is fitted with a ‘25’ logo in its lower spoke. A high resolution eight-inch ‘Ready2Discover’ infotainment system is standard.

Other standard innovations include Volkswagen’s IQ Light LED matrix headlights with dynamic light assist functionality and LED daytime running lights. The optional Travel Assist system forms part of the IQ Drive assist package which also includes adaptive cruise control and lane assist systems.

‘Home of the Polo GTI’
The Polo GTI Edition 25 and other sixth-generation Polo-based Polo GTIs are exclusively built at Volkswagen South Africa’s Kariega plant. The ‘home of the Polo GTI’, the factory, opened in 1951, is situated near Port Elizabeth and is the largest car manufacturing facility on the African continent. ‘Our team in South Africa is really proud of this car’, said Martina Biene, managing director and chairperson of Volkswagen Group South Africa. ‘The Polo has a long tradition here – especially the Polo GTI.’ Volkswagen South Africa produces the Polo Vivo, the Polo and the Polo GTI.

The third-generation Polo was the first to wear Volkswagen’s iconic three letter badge. Limited to 3,000 units, the limited model sold out as fast as its 9.1-second 0-60mph time. Marked out by ‘GTI’ badges, 15-inch BBS alloy wheels, red seatbelts and unique ‘1’ interior trim, the subtle-looking model started the Polo GTI ball rolling.

1999-2001 Polo GTI
Updated in 1999 when the facelifted third-generation Polo arrived, the GTI became a permanent fixture in the Polo range. Featuring much the same recipe as before, its 1.6-litre 125bhp 16V engine with variable valve timing technology was 5bhp up on the 1998 version.

2006-2009 Polo GTI
The introduction of the refreshed fourth-generation ‘9N3’ Polo in 2006 saw the next Polo GTI arrive. With 148bhp from its 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, a special 178bhp Polo GTI Cup Edition was fitted with a unique body kit based on the Polo Cup racing cars that pounded the racetracks in Europe.

2010-2017 Polo GTI
Switching tack was the twincharged (super and turbocharged) Polo GTI of 2010. The 1.4-litre TSI engine was exclusively paired with a seven-speed DSG gearbox for a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds. With 17-inch ‘Monza’ wheels that aped the Golf GTI, it looked every inch the hot hatch. Sharpened up in 2014 with the arrival of the updated fifth-generation model, the 1.4 engine was swapped for a 1.8-litre turbocharged unit with 189bhp and the choice of both manual and DSG gearboxes.

2017-2023 Polo GTI
Now very firmly a mainstay of the family, the Polo GTI of the sixth-generation Polo range had 197bhp and a six-speed DSG gearbox, sprinting to 62mph from rest in 6.7 seconds. A suite of new high resolution infotainment systems and a 10.3-inch digital driver’s display were among the technological highlights. In 2021 the refreshed model debuted – still based on Volkswagen’s successful MQB platform architecture – with 204bhp and subtle styling enhancements inside and out. It is this car on which the Polo GTI Edition 25 is based.

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

The Polo GTI of the sixth-generation Polo has been campaigned successfully in motorsport, both on and off the track. The car has provided a base for the Polo GTI R5 rally car, as well as the Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa Polo Cup one-make series circuit racer.

2018 Engen Volkswagen Cup Polo GTI

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