There’s a new Volkswagen Polo GTi and, glory be, you can have it with a manual gearbox. The old version only came with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch, which wasn’t much cop.

The engine goes back to basics, as well. The previous 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine has been ditched for a less complicated 1.8 TSi turbo.

Power increases to 189bhp and a thumping 236lb/ft of torque, quite a lot more than any of its rivals. The DSG box is an option, but for technical reasons it only turns out 184lb/ft.

0-62mph passes in 6.7 seconds, with a 146mph top speed. And yet the manual version returns 47.1mpg and 139g/km (DSG: 50.4mpg, 129g/km).

The GTi rolls on 17-inch wheels, and the suspension has been lowered 10mm at the front and 15mm at the back.

The bodykit apes that of its big brother, the Golf GTi. So there’s a red strip around around the honeycomb grille, rear diffuser and spoiler. LED headlights are standard fit.

Inside, a leather steering wheel, red detailing and classic check cloth upholstery give a sportily retro ambiance.

The ESC Sport and XDS+ systems are borrowed from the Golf. The former makes the driver look like a hero without the danger of crashy, firey death. And the latter imitates torque vectoring, increasing agility.

The optional Sport Performance Pack will surely be obligatory, as it sharpens the handling and the engine’s responses.

Prices start at £18,850 when it goes on sale in March. The five-door model adds £630; the DSG ‘box costs £1,245.

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