Volkswagen mints 25th anniversary Polo GTI

WHILE the Volkswagen Golf remains much heralded as the ‘definitive’ family hatchback on our roads, in Drive’s opinion, the Polo has been quietly stealing a march on its limelight-hogging big sister for a good while now.

Arriving one year after the Golf in 1975, the Polo was always a cuter, cheaper and only slightly smaller in practical terms alternative to the Golf, with the current sixth generation of this ‘supermini’ – now much larger and more powerful than the majority of Golfs produced over the past 49-years – being one of its most attractive incarnations ever.

Now, a special anniversary version of the range-topping Polo GTI is about to hit our roads, aimed at hot hatch fans who demand a little extra style - and exclusivity.

Priced at £31,295 on-the-road (a standard GTI starts at £28,905), just 2,500 Polo GTI Edition 25 models will be available worldwide, marking – as you may already have guessed - 25 years since the first ever Polo GTI was launched, and only 350 of these cars are destined for the UK market.

“Volkswagen has a rich heritage and the Polo is one of our most iconic vehicles,” says Imelda Labbé, member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales.

“GTI fans are very important to us and our anniversary model is a way of marking this milestone together with them: celebrating 25 years of power, performance, sportiness, and fun driving in the Polo class.”

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In addition to the standard GTI visual signifiers - red brake callipers and trim strips, honeycomb front grille, chrome-plated tailpipes, IQ.Light LED matrix headlights – the Polo GTI Edition 25 also adds special ‘25’ decals with a honeycomb fade-effect design along the door bottoms, 18-inch black gloss Adelaide alloy wheels to match its black roof and black exterior door mirrors.

Inside, things look much the same as a standard Polo GTI: sport seats in perforated black-red leather, with stitched GTI logos, black gloss decorative trim with red GTI lettering. However, the 350 UK models also come equipped with mobile phone preparation with inductive charging, Safelock keyless locking/starting, heated front seats and a rear-view camera.

In addition to the ‘25’ logos on the leather multi-function sports steering wheel, owners will have another talking point to share with passengers in the form of the special ‘One of 2,500’ logos on the door sills. Not that they can actually be seen once the doors are closed, admittedly, so be sure to mention them as you’re getting in if you intend to impress.

Under the bonnet, the powerful GTI-spec 2 litre 207hp TSI engine propels Polo GTI Edition 25 from zero to 62 mph in just 6.5 seconds, with the usual lowered, GTI-tuned sports suspension joining forces with its electronic differential lock XDS to give the car a firm and reassuringly precise feel during spirited driving.

If you want to make sure people know your car is something special, be sure to order in in Ascot Grey, a Polo GTI Edition 25-exclusive colour for the GTI alongside the classic colours Pure White, Kings Red Metallic, Reef Blue Metallic and Smoke Grey Metallic.

Like the majority of other Polo models, the Polo GTI Edition 25 is manufactured in South Africa at Volkswagen Group South Africa’s plant in Kariega.

“Our team in South Africa is really proud of this car,” says Martina Biene, managing director and chairperson of Volkswagen Group South Africa.

“The Polo has a long tradition here, especially the Polo GTI.”

Opened in 1951, the factory is located near Port Elizabeth and is the largest car plant on the African continent. Volkswagen South Africa produces the Polo Vivo, the Polo and - exclusively - the Polo GTI.

The new Volkswagen Polo and Polo GTI
The new Volkswagen Polo and Polo GTI The new Volkswagen Polo and Polo GTI

However, how long this will continue to be the case remains uncertain: Polo fans will already be aware of the rumours that Volkswagen plans to discontinue the Polo name as it pivots to an EV-only output over the next seven years.

One small hope is that the name might live on in the company’s forthcoming affordable electric hatchback, which currently exists in concept form as the ID 2all. However, if push comes to shove and VW decide to preserve one ‘legacy’ model name for their post-ICE line-up, it’s probably more likely to be the Golf.

All to more reason to buy a Polo now, then: available to order from August 3, a Polo GTI Edition 25 can be yours from a Volkswagen dealer with a £1,500 deposit contribution and 6.9-per-cent personal contract plan from Volkswagen Financial Services.


  • Engine and drivetrain: 2.0l turbocharged TSI, 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG)
  • Peak power: 207hp / 236lb ft between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm.
  • 0-62mph: 6.5secs
  • Maximum speed: 149mph
  • WLTP fuel consumption (combined): 43.5 mpg
  • WLTP emissions (combined): 147 g/km
  • BIK: 34 per cent
  • Euro NCAP rating: 5 stars (2022)
  • Price OTR: £31,295


The GT variant of the original Mk1 Polo first appeared in 1979 to offer buyers a ‘sporty’ version of VW’s popular supermini, but a full-blooded GTI-badged version did not appear for another 19 years, by which time the Polo was on its third generation.

Volkswagen limited production of this first Polo GTI to only 3,000 units worldwide, presumably so as not to steal any of its big sister’s thunder - which wouldn’t have been hard, given how woeful the Mk3 Golf GTI (which actually shared a floorpan and suspension with the Mk3 Polo) was compared to its iconic 1980s predecessors.

These original Polo GTIs quickly sold out, making them something of a collector’s item today, and the GTI badge then disappeared from the Polo line-up for another eight years. It was revived as part of the Mk4 model range in 2006, including a specially tuned 178hp Polo GTI Cup Edition which took its styling cues from the competition cars used in the Polo Cup.

A fifth generation Polo GTI appeared in 2010, featuring a 1.4-litre TSI engine with turbo and supercharging, while its successor in 2014 was equipped with a brand new 190hp engine capable of a top speed of 146 mph.

The Polo continued to evolve, and the GTI version evolved with it: the sixth and current generation arrived in 2021 and is based on Volkswagen’s modular transverse matrix (MQB), offering enhanced body strength, low vehicle weight and excellent five-star Euro NCAP-rated crash properties.