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Most Improved Car of 2016: Volkswagen Polo GTI

By Scott Newman & Dylan Campbell, 23 Dec 2016 Features

Most Improved Car of 2016: Volkswagen Polo GTI

We look at the redeemed Volkswagen and the disappointing MINI in this look back at 2016

The addition of a manual gearbox alone probably qualifies the updated VW Polo GTI for this award. This not only added a layer of interaction to a car that has previously lacked a bit of fire, but also allowed VW engineers to unlock an extra 70Nm from the 1.8-litre turbo.

This extra grunt turns the Polo GTI in a right pocket rocket, capable of giving its Golf GTI big brother a black eye in a straight line, but it was the MY16 addition of adaptive dampers that really added extra spice to the Polo package, improving its ride but also sharpening its cornering skills.

Most Disappointing Car of 2016: MINI John Cooper Works

Most -Improved -Car -of -2016-Volkswagen -Polo -GTI-embedThe previous MINI Cooper JCW was a much-loved partner in crime for MOTOR and deservingly so: it had a big heart, a big personality and was properly fast – and fun – on road and track. It was with a tear we bid it hooroo but we kept optimistic that the new one would be cheekier, more fun and faster still. It turned out to be just faster.

The new MINI JCW is a better all-round car, but not a better performance car. The engine is potent enough but the handling feels oddly artificial, the steering a bit unfinished and it doesn't tempt you to keep driving it anything like the rip-snorting old one. We live in hope of improvement – presumably a GP version is still to come and with it, hopefully redemption.