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28 January 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Solberg and Polo GTI R5 slide into impressive Rallye Monte-Carlo debut



Norwegian up-and-coming rally star Oliver Solberg took on the 2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Polo GTI R5 and although his participation was just to gain experience during his first tarmac event, the son of rallying and rallycross ace Petter Solberg posted hugely impressive times in his Monster Energy-backed Volkswagen.

The 18-year-old is a seasoned Polo GTI R5 helmsman, having contested numerous European Rally Championship events last season. Along with co-driver Aaron Johnston, Solberg took a hat-trick of titles in 2019 (Latvia Rally champion, the Baltic Rally Trophy and an Estonian class win) aboard the Polo GTI R5. The pair also took on Wales Rally GB, their first World Rally Championship (WRC) event.

A measured approach
For the 189-mile Monte test (23-26 January), a measured approach was the order of the day. Safe tyre choices and sensible lines translated into gained knowledge and experience, but there were still respectable pace. The Monster Energy Polo posted a third fastest R5 class time on the second run at the Cubans – Venterol test, but later clipped a kerb with the left-rear wheel, the ever-eager Solberg revelling in his and Johnston’s first running of the legendary event. It was one of the event’s lessons given to the young driver.

‘Even when I hit the kerb, at literally walking speed, I learned so much. I used the handbrake to rotate the car, but on the ice it slid too far. The wheel hit the kerb at a really low speed, but at the wrong angle. We broke a bolt in the suspension and had to stop and make the repair ourselves. I always said I wasn’t coming here for the race, I was coming here to learn and I have learned so much!’ As well as the knowledge the duo took away, they finished 16th in the WRC2 class and 25th overall.

A particular highlight was the stage over the infamous Col de Turini. ‘Like every rally fan, for my whole life I watched cars coming over this incredible mountain road and to be there, to drive through that atmosphere with so many fans was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget it.’

‘Just incredible’
The Norwegian superstar-in-waiting really enjoyed his first Monte, which took place in a range of ever-changing weather conditions. ‘Everything everybody told me about the Monte was true. It is such a difficult rally. So difficult! Everything we did on this event was new. I’ve never competed on tarmac before, everything we had done in the previous years had been getting ready for gravel rallies – which are the ones we will be doing most. We had a test before this event, but when we came to these conditions it was just incredible.

‘Everybody said we would be on the wrong tyres for a lot of the time and this was exactly how it was. We were on the ice tyres for a long time on Saturday morning, doing these huge slides as the studs have no grip on the dry asphalt. All the time I was thinking: “Is this right?” And then you come to the full ice and snow and the tyre is perfect. Then you think: “Yes! This is right!”

‘It was a real compromise of everything, but you have to come here to learn that and if you go to the ditch on the first day then you learn nothing. Sometimes I was maybe wanting to push a little bit harder, but I knew there was too much at risk. The problem is, I can’t wait another 12 months to come back – I want to go and do it all again now.’

Solberg Junior will pilot the Polo GTI R5 on more rallies during 2020, but will also slip behind the wheel of a works Škoda Motorsport-supported Fabia Rally2 evo for three of the season’s rounds. The Norwegian’s Fabia-ulous WRC assault starts at Rally Sweden on 13 February. ‘We will still drive the Polo on some rounds,’ said Solberg, who made his WRC debut at Wales Rally GB in October 2019. ‘The main thing for me now is to try to make experience on as many WRC rounds as possible this year.’

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24 January 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Rims with bite: Barracuda Racing Wheels Tzunamee EVO for Polo GTI

The latest 197bhp Polo GTI is the most powerful ever, and with as much power as a fifth-generation Golf GTI of 2004, Barracuda Racing Wheels Europe thought VW’s small firecracker deserved a more striking set of rims.

The German tuner’s Tzunamee EVO alloys pictured here are 8×18-inches in size, wrapped in 215/35R18 rubber. With a dark gunmetal finish, the company quotes a pronounced concavity of fifty millimetres and state that as the brushed regions of the spoke ends extend to the edge of the rims, the wheels appear larger than they really are.

Priced from €299, optional €69 eight millimetre spacers on the rear ensure perfect alignment between front and rear and lend the sixth-generation Polo GTI a more aggressive appearance. This is helped on Barracuda’s show car by a set of €249 special “JMS made by H&R” springs which lower the pumped-up, go-faster Polo’s body by 40mm at the front, and 30mm at the rear.

Barracuda Racing Wheels’ range of rims are available from car dealerships as well as tyre and specialist stores. They can also be bought online from www.barracuda-europe.de, and the company has extensive social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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06 January 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo named the UK’s ninth most popular car in 2019

2018 Volkswagen Polo SEL (UK)

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the Volkswagen Polo was both the ninth most popular car in the UK during December 2019, and also for the year.

The latest SMMT tallies reveal that 2,715 Polos found new homes during December 2019, while for the year as a whole, a total of 37,453 units of Volkswagen’s small hatchback were registered. The Golf was the most popular car during December 2019, its 4,585 units pushing the 4,168 of the Ford Fiesta into second place.

The small Ford ruled the roost overall, though, with 77,833 registered during the 12 months of 2019, compared with 58,994 of the second-placed Golf. Which for a car which is replaced imminently, is impressive. Volkswagen registered 200,771 cars in 2018, leading to an 8.69 per cent market share.

It was bad news elsewhere, though. Overall UK new car sales were down 2.4 per cent in 2019, the third consecutive year of decline. The lowest total for six years, 2,311,140 new cars were registered last year, although December’s totals were up 3.4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

Other headlines include the rise of battery electric cars – up 144 per cent – while hybrids still dominated the alternative fuel market and were up 17.1 per cent. However, CO2 emissions increased for the third consecutive year, no doubt buoyed by the 2.2 per cent rise in demand for petrol models, and the 21.8 per cent slump in diesel registrations. The top ten most popular new cars in the UK during December 2019 and the overall year (registration figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Volkswagen Golf: 4,585 (58,994, 2nd)

2 Ford Fiesta: 4,168 (77,833, 1st)
3 Mini: 3,985 (41,188, 8th)
4 Ford Kuga: 3,610 (41,671, 7th)
5 BMW 3 Series: 3,527
6 Ford Focus: 3,261 (56,619, 3rd)
7 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 3,050 (53,724, 5th)
8 Other: 2,824
9 Volkswagen Polo: 2,715 (37,453, 9th)
10 Vauxhall Grandland X: 2,566

(The 2019 top ten most popular cars absent from December 2019’s registration figures were the fourth-placed Vauxhall Corsa, the sixth-placed Nissan Qashqai and the tenth-placed Kia Sportage, with 54,239, 52,532 and 34,502 units recorded respectively.)

The Polo has also been named as the ninth most popular searched for car on the Auto Trader website, based on advertisement views. The Polo was searched for 463,548 times according to the Auto Trader UK’s Most Popular Cars 2019 report, which combined a survey of 2,000 UK drivers with search data from advertisement views on the website and companion app to reveal the most popular makes, models and features on the new car market. The Volkswagen Golf topped the list, with a total of 1,307,303 advertisement views, the second consecutive year the VW family hatch has done so.

Record year for Volkswagen South Africa
Once more the Polo Vivo was December 2019’s top-performing model in South Africa, where it topped the passenger car sales charts with 1,779 units. The newest NAAMSA (National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa) figures state that the sixth-generation Polo repeated its second place position from November with 1,410 units sold.

2018 Volkswagen Polo Vivo

The often-forgotten Polo Sedan (still based on the older fifth-generation model) shifted 532 examples, while 685 T-Cross models found new homes. Volkswagen South Africa celebrated a record 2019 overall, its 161,954 production total a new single-year record for the Uitenhage factory.

The highest volume the plant has achieved since it started manufacturing Volkswagens in 1951, 131,365 Polos left the line, along with 30,589 Polo Vivos for the local market. The Polo Vivo was the best-selling passenger car in the country, too, with 29,619 cars finding new owners. It topped the A0 small car segment with a market share of 24.5 per cent, while the Volkswagen brand as a whole was the country’s leading manufacturer with a 23.4 per cent market share.

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05 November 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo returns to the UK’s top ten most popular cars chart

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI (South Africa)

The Volkswagen Polo made a welcome return to the UK’s most popular car chart in October. According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the Polo ranked ninth in the UK’s top ten registrations rundown.

A total of 2,191 Polos found new homes, just below the 2,547 Tiguans in eighth place. In ninth place overall, 32,257 Polos have been registered in 2019 to date. October’s ranking marks the first time the Polo has returned to the UK’s most popular cars rundown since July.

Even though the seventh-generation Golf is now officially a run-out model due to the unveiling of the new eighth-generation car, the older variants popularity shows no sign of waning. With 3,976 units registered, the Golf makes number three in October’s most popular cars chart, with the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Fiesta above it, in second and first places respectively.

Elsewhere, UK registrations fell 6.7 per cent in October compared to the same month in 2018, but alternatively-fuelled vehicles reached a record 9.9 per cent market share with 14,231 counted. The UK’s top ten most popular new cars during October 2019 and the year-to-date (sales figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Ford Fiesta: 5,138 (69,702, 1st)
2 Nissan Qashqai: 4,084 (46,569, 6th)

3 Volkswagen Golf: 3,976 (50,468, 3rd)

4 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 3,630 (46,923, 5th)
5 Ford Focus: 3,585 (49,517, 2nd)
6 Ford Kuga: 3,041 (33,848, 8th)
7 Kia Sportage: 2,588 (30,815, 10th)
8 Volkswagen Tiguan: 2,547

9 Volkswagen Polo: 2,191 (32,257, 9th)
10 Range Rover Evoque: 2,134


(The 2019 year-to-date top ten most popular cars absent from October 2019’s registration figures were the fourth-placed Vauxhall Corsa and the seventh-placed Mini, with 49,341 and 34,387 units recorded respectively.)

Polo family reigns in South Africa
The Polo Vivo continued its best-selling run in South Africa, topping the passenger car sales charts with 2,937 cars found new owners. The latest National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) figures state that the sixth-generation Polo was in second place again with 2,098 units sold.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

The Polo-based T-Cross registered a tally of 1,132 cars, while 522 of the often-forgotten Polo Sedan rolled out of showrooms. It’s not just new car buyers the Polo is popular with, either. On the South African used car market, the fifth-generation Polo was the most sought-after model according to Auto Trader, with the Polo Vivo two places down the rankings.

Volkswagen Uitenhage factory celebrates production record

Volkswagen South Africa’s Uitenhage factory produced a total of 16,453 vehicles in October, marking a new monthly record for the plant. A total of 140,782 vehicles have been manufactured at the factory during the year-to-date: 92,029 were for export and 60,107 were for the local market.

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23 October 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Siemoneit Racing Volkswagen Polo GTI packs 316bhp punch

The latest 197bhp Polo GTI may be the most powerful version of Volkswagen’s smaller hot hatch icon to hit the roads, but it’s the not the most powerful series production Polo ever. That honour goes to the 217bhp limited edition 2013 Polo R WRC Street. But don’t worry: the take on the current Polo GTI offered by Siemoneit Racing blows the R WRC Street well and truly out of the water.

Based in Ottenbecker near Hamburg, the German tuner’s modifications packages will take the current Polo GTI’s power up to 316bhp. Siemoneit’s Stage 1 option boosts the standard car’s 2.0-litre engine from 197bhp to 242bhp (the same as the larger Golf GTI Performance in factory tune), with torque up to 302lb ft, 66lb ft over the original figure. The cost? Around £535 (€598). For a little extra, Stage 1+ adds a further 5bhp and 11lb ft.

316bhp, 317lb ft
But the full-fat Stage 3+ is where the real fun and games begin. The Golf R-bothering 316bhp and 317lb ft comes courtesy of an enlarged turbocharger, a new intercooler and plumbing pipes, as well as a performance sports exhaust, and tweaks to the DSG gearbox to handle the beefed-up power. Super-Golf performance doesn’t come cheap, though: at £8,000 (€8,998) once the cost of the donor car has been factored in, the price is right in Golf R terrority, too.

But if that’s still not hardcore enough (rarely has the word ‘hardcore’ been used in conjunction with a Polo GTI before), for around £11,000 (€11,630), Siemoneit Racing will turn your Polo GTI into something of a Porsche 968 Clubsport. Kind of. The rear seats are ditched and replaced by a full roll-cage, Recaros with Sabelt harnesses keep you pinned in your seat as the Siemoneit Polo GTI’s pace catapults you towards the horizon and KW Clubsport suspension and 18-inch ATS rims wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber keep the performance Polo pinned to the tarmac.

All that translates to a 0 to 62mph time of 5.2 seconds – 1.5 seconds faster than the standard Polo GTI – and a top speed of 159mph. With little evidence of a more powerful official Polo GTI Performance model in the offing, Siemoneit Racing’s programme of upgrades offer exciting, if expensive, ways to turn VW’s second-smallest hot hatch into a real road-burner. If you like what you see, find out more at www.siemoneit-racing.de.

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