2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen's taken the wraps off its all-new Polo GTI ahead of its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show, and while the hotted up hatch appears to be a scaled down version of its Golf brethren, it's more devoted to the original GTI's ethos than its larger sibling.

Sharing an engine with the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, the Polo GTI packs a 178 horsepower and 184 pound-foot punch from its turbo- and supercharged 1.4-liter gasoline-powered four. VW's XDS differential receives power from a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, allowing the GTI to scoot to 60 in 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 163 mph.

Pricing hasn't been set for the European market yet, but expect the GTI to carry a £18,000 sticker when it arrives in August. And if VW decides to pull the trigger and bring the Polo to the U.S., here's hoping the GTI can sneak on board the ship. Press release after the jump.


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FAST, CLEAN AND SHARPER THAN EVER: NEW POLO GTI UNVEILED

The new Polo GTI has been unveiled, promising to be the fastest, most focussed and cleanest performance Polo yet produced.

The original performance variant of the Polo was unveiled in 1986 in the form of the G40 Coupé - a car that mixed a fast-revving, 113 PS, supercharged engine with a low kerbweight and sharpened responses.

Fast forward 24 years and the new Polo GTI bears similarities with the G40. At its heart is a 1.4-litre TSI engine that uses a supercharger from idle through to 3,000 rpm at which point the turbocharger cuts in to provide boost. The result is an output of 180 PS at 6,200 rpm and 184 lbs ft of torque from 2,000 rpm which, when aligned with a 1,184 kg kerbweight, allows the Polo GTI to accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds before reaching a top speed of 142 mph.

Despite a keen focus on performance, the new Polo GTI is capable of delivering 47 mpg on the combined cycle while emitting just 139 g/km of CO2.

The TSI engine is linked to a compact seven-speed, twin-clutch DSG gearbox that channels drive through the front axle. In addition, the Polo GTI is fitted with the XDS differential, an electronic cross-axle traction control system for improved traction and handling. The XDS system is a functional extension of the electronic limited slip differential (EDL) which is a part of the standard ESP system.

In order to sharpen responses, the Polo GTI is fitted with new springs and dampers which results in a 15 mm lower ride height than the conventional Polo.

Like its Golf GTI sibling, the Polo GTI features significant aesthetic changes. A new front bumper featuring a deep airdam is joined by a honeycombe grille element with horizontal red strips and a simple GTI badge. New headlight units complete with the option of LED running lights lend the Polo GTI an imposing new look.

Further back, a subtle sill extension wraps around the lower edge of the body while at the back a new rear bumper features a small diffuser and a pair of chrome-tipped exhausts. The Polo badge is replaced by a simple 'GTI' version.

Finally, a set of 17-inch wheels identical to those fitted to the Golf GTI are fitted along with a set of red brake callipers.

The changes continue inside the Polo GTI with revised dials, a new, flat-bottomed GTI steering wheel complete with small gearshift paddles and contrasting red stitching, aluminium pedals and new, heavily bolstered front sports seats finished in tartan trim. Subtle gloss black trim covers the centre console while the headlining is now finished in black.

The new Polo GTI is due to arrive in the UK in the summer at which point pricing and specification will be announced.