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08 February 2016 ~ 0 Comments

‘A complete performance package’ – 189bhp Polo GTI unveiled in India

2016 Volkswagen Polo GTI is unveiled at 2016 Auto Expo, India

The Polo isn’t just a European car any more, it’s a truly global model now, with buyers as far afield as Australia, China, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, and South America. Some of these markets were conquered long ago, but one, India, is a fairly recent addition to the Polo’s global repertoire.

Established with the arrival of the fifth-generation model, the Indian-built Polo comes in regular and slightly warmer ‘GT’ flavours. Now, though, it gets hotter – Volkswagen India has confirmed the Polo GTI is to be sold in the country, and pulled the wraps off its latest baby at last week’s Auto Expo show in Delhi.

189bhp TSI engine
‘Designed for true blue enthusiasts’, according to Volkswagen, the Polo GTI for India appears to share the same technical make-up as the European model. Sharing that car’s 189bhp/141kW 1.8-litre TSI engine, it comes with a seven-speed DSG gearbox. Thanks to its power output, it shoots straight to the top of India’s hot hatchback class, the first true ‘performance’ model to be offered.

As the oily bits are are the same as European models, the Indian Polo GTI posts the same performance figures, too, and gets from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, and tops out at 146mph. A torque output of 250NM matches the cars sold in the west, too.

Externally – and internally – it also looks the same as its European sister. Front and rear spoilers and a red-trimmed grille mark out the sports Polo, while the car on the Volkswagen stand at the Auto Expo event wore 17-inch ‘Serron’ alloy wheels, as opposed to the ‘Parabolica’ rims which are standard in the UK. The former wheels are an option in selected European markets.

Market first
In another market first, the Polo GTI is being imported to India as a three-door-only model, although a five-door variant could follow. India has almost no experience of small three-door hatchbacks – let alone performance hatchbacks – so it could be a risky strategy.

Expected to arrive in September 2016, buyers will pay around Rs 20 lakhs for the hot Polo, which makes it very pricey – the current Polo starts at Rs 5.33 lakh. Volkswagen India thinks that the market exists, though: around 15-20 per cent of Polos sold there are 103bhp GT TSI and GT TDI models.

‘GTI philosophy’
Michael Mayer, Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India said: ‘The Polo GTI is specifically designed for the true blue enthusiasts, whose thirst for thrill is not only about having a powerful car, but also being well versed with the GTI philosophy.

‘The Polo GTI provides a complete performance package and sets the driver apart from his peer group. We are confident that the world renowned, highly acclaimed features of the car will strongly appeal to Polo GT loyalists as well as driving enthusiasts in India.’

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04 February 2016 ~ 0 Comments

2016 Polo UK sales off to a good start: seventh best-seller during January

2016 Volkswagen Polo (UK)

The Polo has started 2016 as it means to go on, by appearing in the UK best-selling cars chart. The small Volkswagen was the seventh most popular car in January, with 3,298 examples disappearing from VW retailer forecourts. The Ford Fiesta repeated its phenomenal success in first place, with 8,353 sold.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) state that last month was the best January since 2005 for the new car market as registrations increased 2.9 per cent to 169,678 units. Other small car high-fliers included the third-placed Vauxhall Corsa which sold 4,803 units.

The UK’s top 10 best-selling passenger cars according to the SMMT during January 2016 and the year so far are as follows:

1 Ford Fiesta: 8353
2 Nissan Qashqai: 4839
3 Vauxhall Corsa: 4803
4 Ford Focus: 4285
5 Volkswagen Golf: 3813
6 Nissan Juke: 3446
7 Volkswagen Polo: 3298

8 Audi A3: 3227
9 Vauxhall Astra: 3185
10 Mercedes-Benz C Class: 3022

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02 February 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen reveals Polo-based Ameo compact saloon; 2016 Polo / Vento

2016 Volkswagen Ameo (India)

Ahead of its Auto Expo 2016 motor show debut in Delhi this week, Volkswagen has launched its long-awaited sub-4m compact saloon, the Ameo. Based on the fifth-generation Polo made at the company’s Indian factory, the Ameo has a very similar appearance to the popular hatchback but with a severely truncated ‘three-box’ tail.

Designed and engineered for India
The Ameo has been designed and engineered specifically for the Indian market (the car’s marketing slogan is ‘German engineering with an Indian heart’), and will be built alongside the Polo – and its over-4m saloon sister, the Vento – at Volkswagen’s Pune plant. The new car looks almost identical to the Polo at the front, the only marked differences being the ‘folds’ at the bumper edges.

At the rear, bespoke tail lamps and creases mark out the Ameo, which will count the Ford Aspire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent, Swift Dire and Tata Zest as its key rivals. Two Polo engines feature in the Ameo’s make-up: a 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol and an 89bhp 1.5-litre TDI diesel. Five-speed gearboxes are standard, while a seven-speed DSG is available as an option on the TDI.

The Ameo has a wide range of safety kit, with anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags fitted as standard. Segment firsts include the options of automatic wipers and cruise control, while ‘Climatronic’ automatic air-conditioning, cruise control, rear view camera and parking sensors, static cornering fog lights, and a touchscreen multimedia infotainment system with MirrorLink technology can also be specified.

Volkswagen India has stated that the Ameo – which will hold 330 litres of luggage – will go on sale in the second half of 2016, while no prices have yet been released. It is expected that the Ameo will be priced in-between the Polo (Rs 5.32 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai) and the Vento (Rs 7.70 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai) when it goes on sale.

REFRESHED 2016 POLO / VENTO
As well as the Ameo, Volkswagen India has also announced a gentle refreshing of both its Polo and Vento ranges. While there are no body or mechanical upgrades, models benefit from ‘luxury’ equipment, such as an auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and a similar touchscreen multimedia infotainment system like that of the Ameo. Prices for the new Indian-market Polo and Vento are as follows:

Polo

Rs 5.23 – 8.73 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai)

Rs 5.33 – 8.90 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

Vento

Rs 7.70 – 11.90 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai)

Rs 7.85 – 12.13 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

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26 January 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Un, deux, trois… Third Rally Monte-Carlo win for Ogier and Volkswagen

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Monte-Carlo: Ogier/ingrassia

Regulation limitations meant that defending 2015 FIA World Rally Champion Volkswagen Motorsport may not have changed much about its all-conquering 2016 Polo R WRC or its driver line-ups, but there was evidently little need to – reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier took his third win at this season’s opener, the 2016 Rally Monte-Carlo from 21-24 January.

Legendary event
Ogier’s win at the legendary event meant that it was his and co-driver Julien Ingrassia’s 33rd career victory – they join an esteemed line-up of three-time Monte winners including Sébastien Loeb, Tommi Mäkinen, Sandro Munari, and Walter Röhrl. The 318bhp four-wheel drive Polo R WRC meanwhile takes it place among the Monte’s three-win great cars, the Citroën Xsara, Lancias Stratos and Delta, Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Porsche 911.

The Polo R WRC is also the most successful car in rally history, thanks to its impressive win ratio of 87.5 per cent – that equates to 35 victories from 40 rallies. The 430Nm motorsport supermini which accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds has minimal changes for 2016, with only a stronger front sub-frame and suitably beefed-up rear axle wishbones, along with modified engine pistons.

The 2016 Rally Monte-Carlo started well for Ogier, the Frenchman coming second in the shakedown, his team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala fifth and sixth respectively. Notching up the fastest time on stage one, Ogier and Ingrassia ended the first day in second place, behind the trailblazing British Citröen driver, Kris Meeke.

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13 January 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Finely tuned with detail improvements: Volkswagen unveils 2016 Polo R WRC

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Remember the 2015 unveiling of the new Polo R WRC at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters? The trio of driver crews and key personnel were all present and correct to pull the covers off the dark blue and white-liveried 2015 World Rally Championship challenger. No such glitz for 2016: just a press release and a photo which doesn’t give too much of the slightly different livery away.

‘Gentle evolution’
Volkswagen Motorsport claim that ‘the most successful car in WRC history is now even better’, though. With a whole host of new regulations due in 2017, few changes could be made for 2016, and the German motorsport outfit states that the 2016 Polo R WRC is a ‘gentle evolution’ with a few systematic improvements.

Those changes are largely to improve the reliability of the three-title-winning car, with the ‘2.2’ version of the second-generation Polo R WRC boasting increased stability. A strengthened front subframe is joined by similarly beefed-up rear-axle wishbones on gravel-specification cars. The 1.6-litre turbocharged 318bhp engine sees modified pistons.

Externally, we’ll have to wait until the first round of the 2016 series, the Rally Monte Carlo (21-24 January) to see the full extent of the livery changes, but the front of the new Polo R WRC sees more white areas return – as in 2013 and 2014 when the whole body shell was largely devoid of colour. Otherwise, the official photo seen here does little to expose how similar the 2016 car will appear when compared to its 2015 predecessor.

‘Fine-tuning, detailed improvements’
‘We are about to defend our world championship title for the third time in a row,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘The opposition has not been sleeping, and has modified its cars for the new season. So have we: the changes to the Polo R WRC are basically fine-tuning and detailed improvements to make the world championship-winning car even better.

‘You have to bear in mind that the regulations in the World Rally Championship only allow a few modifications within a homologation period. Thanks to this stability, it is possible to challenge for the title for several years with an existing car, making only detailed improvements. That is precisely our goal for 2016.’

The 2016 FIA World Rally Championship will include 14 rounds (one additional rally over the 2015 calendar), with China added and the Rally Great Britain moving from its traditional championship closer position to become the penultimate round – the final round in 2016 will be Rally Australia in November.

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