99 Volkswagen GTIs are all set to scorch Indian roads

Three long years after we lamented the absence of hot hatchbacks from mainstream auto-makers in India, Fiat did the unexpected by launching the Abarth Punto last year. While the car did succeed in whetting the interests of automotive enthusiasts across the country, it failed to set the cash registers ringing for Fiat. Unperturbed by the tepid response to it's only closest rival, Volkswagen has now followed suit with the introduction of its legendary 'GTI' nameplate in India.

True to its legacy, the GTI is the hottest hatchback on sale in the country with specifications that would make cars like the Mini Cooper S and Fiat 595 Competizione feel insecure. We aren't joking. With a 1.8-liter turbocharged petrol engine underneath, the GTI produces 192 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque, the latter limited by the capabilities of the infamous 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The GTI can race from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.2 seconds with a claimed top speed of 233 km/h. Now, that's some serious performance!

Visually, the GTI has no pretensions to hide its Polo roots and carries the same straightforward and timeless design that we all love. Being available only in its 3-door avatar, exclusivity is guaranteed though. In addition, visual tweaks like full LED headlights with red accents, honeycomb mesh grille with red inserts, sharper front and rear bumpers, dual chrome-tipped exhausts and 16-inch 'Salvador' alloy wheels provide the much-needed differentiation from the regular Polos. Just like the GT twins, there are no Polo badges anywhere in the car. The letters 'GTI' proudly sit on the grille as well as the boot-lid.

While the interiors look similar to the normal Polos at first glance, the GTI will have better build quality, fit and finish as it is imported fully built. The materials used are expected to be a couple of notches better than the regular Polo as well. The cabin gets a few sporty bits like a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel and sporty bucket seats with contrasting red stitching on them. Safety kit on offer include six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ISOFIX anchorage points, all round disc brakes, front and rear Park distance control, Hill start assist and electronic locking differential.

So far, it's all been so good. What's not is the GTI's whopping price tag of INR 25.99 Lakhs, ex-showroom Delhi. That kind of money could fetch you 3 GT TSIs or 3 Abarth Puntos after a bit of haggling! It's definitely super pricey, but then, Volkswagen isn't looking to make a success out of this launch. They have smartly limited the number of units to just 99 and we are sure there are more than enough folks out there with pockets deep enough to splurge on the GTI.

Folks like us can't buy one, of course, but would we mind taking one out for a spin and end up grinning ear to ear throughout the time the car is with us? Absolutely not, and that's what Volkswagen wants!

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