22 November 2022 ~ 2 Comments

Volkswagen hints at European Polo sales halt: could this be the end of the road?

Announced in April 2021, the refreshed sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo’s arrival came just after the small car name celebrated its 46th birthday. And rumours are circulating that this latest version of the Polo could be its last. It may not even live to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The reason? The car market is a very different place to when the original incarnation of the Polo was launched in March 1975. Emission legislation – especially that in Europe – is forcing car makers to produce more electric models, and while internal combustion engines will remain for some time to come, the costs and development needed to make them more environmentally friendly and cleaner are rising. This means the prices will have to rise, making small cars much more expensive.

Small car casualty
Some manufacturers have already pulled the plug on some of their most popular models. The Ford Fiesta has long been a Polo sparring partner, having been launched a year later than the VW, but it is the most high-profile small car casualty yet. Ford has announced that production will stop in June 2023, bringing to an end 47 years of a very popular – the Fiesta has topped the UK registrations chart for several years, most notably from 2009-2020 – nameplate. Could the same be about to happen to the Polo?

Autocar reports that Volkswagen is to take a decision on the Polo’s future within the next two weeks. New technology needed to bring engine emissions down under proposed new Euro 7 regulations would add at least £3,000 to the average cost of cars like the Polo. Volkswagen’s new CEO, Thomas Schäfer, said that would make the Polo essentially unsaleable, making plans for a new electric small car even more prescient. Auto Express states that the larger – and more ‘iconic’ – Golf may stay and even turn into an electric-only model in the future. French magazine Auto-Journal hints that ID 1 and ID 2-badged models – with elements taken from the ID Life concept car – could replace the Polo.

Market withdrawal
What all this means for sales – and a very possible market withdrawal – of the Polo in the UK and Europe is unclear, but there are signs the nameplate may not die imminently elsewhere in the world. A popular model in South Africa – although Cars.co.za reports that sales are starting to slip – the Polo is also built there, the Volkswagen factory in Kariega producing all Polos exported to right-hand drive markets. The facility is also the sole producer of the Polo GTI.

While it may be phased out in Europe, Martina Biene, the managing director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, has commented that the Polo and its cheaper Polo Vivo sister – based on the fifth-generation Polo made from 2009-2017 – will ‘remain’ beyond 2025. Quite what this actually means, we don’t know, but it intimates that for the local market, the Polo name will live on, at least for the short-term, and the model will mark its 50th birthday.

Only electric cars in Europe
The Polo is also built for South American markets in Volkswagen’s Anchieta factory in Brazil and is produced in China in the Anting SAIC Volkswagen plant. South America is still at the very start of the electric car transition, and so will need internal combustion-engined cars for some time to come, whereas China already leads the worldwide electric car market. So, we certainly see the Polo remaining a South American small car staple for a few years yet.

However, elsewhere, things are not so certain. Schäfer has outlined that from 2033 Volkswagen will only produce electric cars in Europe. Ironically, the Polo was the most popular VW in the UK in 2021, a market where the brand also reached the top of the registration charts for the first time. A total of 147,826 Volkswagens found homes, and the Polo was the fifth most popular car in the UK.

While the current Polo has nothing in common with the original car of 1975, given the name and subject of this website, we’d obviously be very disappointed to see the Polo name reach the end of the road. Now one of Volkswagen’s most popular models worldwide, the culling of the Polo name will be a decision that won’t be taken lightly, but European market odds don’t look good. We hope any decision Volkswagen reaches means its small car lives on in some way.

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27 September 2022 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen South Africa introduces
2022 New Polo Sedan

The Volkswagen Polo started life as a hatchback, but since the introduction of its Derby stablemate in 1977, a sedan (or saloon) model has been a mainstay of the range. In South Africa the Polo Sedan has been a steady selling model since its first appearance in the mid-1990s and now, there is an all-new model.

Essentially a re-badged version of the Indian-market Volkswagen Virtus – itself a cousin of the model of the same name which first went on sale in selected South American markets in 2018 – the new car is based in Volkswagen’s MQB A0 platform, and shares many technologies with the sixth-generation Polo, which first appeared in 2017. Its elegant silhouette houses a 521-litre luggage capacity (170 litres up on the Polo hatchback), and at 4,561mm long, the car is 517mm longer than its hatch sister.

Upmarket look
The South African new Polo Sedan shares the same ‘Tornado’ character line as the Polo, and a wide lower bumper grille sits below standard LED headlamps. At the rear, the LED tail lamps have a smoked and clear glass finish, while chrome window strips and door handles – available on higher specification models – give the car a more upmarket look. Going on the first images issued by Volkswagen South Africa, there is a little too much of a gap above the 16-inch alloy wheels, but overall, the new Polo Sedan carries on the elegant styling which has long been a hallmark of previous Polo saloons.

Inside, the dashboard is virtually, if not identical to the Polo hatchback, with a horizontal layout in which is housed a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Dual-tone colour schemes brighten up the cabin, and higher-specification Life models feature digital automatic climate control.

Three trim levels
Volkswagen South Africa is offering the new Polo Sedan in three trims: Polo Sedan, Polo Sedan Life and Polo Sedan Life Tiptronic. Entry level cars come with 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, and Volkswagen’s App-Connect system for smartphone connection.

The new Polo Sedan Life features 16-inch ‘Scimitar’ alloy rims, a 10-inch colour touchscreen system, ambient lighting, Climatronic air conditioning, keyless entry and start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable and folding exterior door mirrors, a rear view camera, and wireless mobile charging and App-Connect. Externally, the Life is also marked out by its front fog lamps and cornering lights. The Polo Sedan Life Tiptronic features steering wheel-mounted shifting paddles to help further control its automatic gearbox and a hill start assist function.

The only optional feature is the choice of five exterior colours. Candy White is the only solid paint option, the four metallic shades being Carbon Steel Grey, Reflex Silver, Rising Blue, and Wild Cherry Red. Safety kit is high with up to six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and multi-collision braking and tyre pressure monitoring systems.

1.6-litre petrol engine
In a difference to other global markets that feature low-capacity turbocharged TSI units, the South African Polo Sedan only comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine. With a power output of 109bhp/81kW, 112lb ft/152Nm of torque is produced at 3,850 to 4,100rpm. The 0-62mph time is 11.2 seconds, and the new Polo Sedan tops out at 118mph/190km/h. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, the Polo Sedan Life Tiptronic featuring a six-speed automatic transmission.

The previous, fifth-generation Polo-based Polo Sedan was long overdue for replacement. It has soldiered on for another four years after the introduction of the sixth-generation Polo in South Africa, so the new model is welcome. The previous car sold 44,267 units since it was introduced in 2011 – itself based on the Vento sold and manufactured in India – and Volkswagen South Africa sees little reason why the new car shouldn’t continue its predecessor’s steady success.

2022 VOLKSWAGEN POLO SEDAN (ZA) RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICES
(VAT and emissions tax included)

Polo Sedan 1.6 81kW manual R318,300
Polo Sedan Life 1.6 81kW manual R345,600
Polo Sedan Life 1.6 81kW Tiptronic R365,500

The new 2022 Volkswagen Polo Sedan comes standard with a three-year/120,000km warranty, a three-year/ 45,000km EasyDrive Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 15,000km and customers have the option to extend EasyDrive Maintenance and EasyDrive Service Plans up to 10 years/300,000km.

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16 May 2022 ~ 0 Comments

Car & Classic Auction watch: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The 2000-2002 Volkswagen Polo GTI established the model’s name in the UK, building on the fun factor of the early Nineties Polo G40. A fun car with a bright personality, PoloDriver.com editor Rich Gooding owned one for almost a decade. Now you can, as a low mileage example comes up for auction on the Car & Classic website.

Oh my. Look at this. I have very happy memories of this one. Although the Polo GTI first gained VW’s legendary go-faster badge almost 25 years ago, the first cars released in 1998 were limited in number. Only 3,000 of the 120bhp Polo GTI were available to Polo fans in Europe. Once they were gone, customers had to wait until the refreshed third-generation Polo was launched in the autumn of 1999 to get their hands on, what was billed at the time, the spiritual successor to the original 1976 Golf GTI.

Zippy personality
But it was worth the wait. The revamped cars gained 3bhp, and a more ‘GTI’ look, even though they shared much with the original run of cars. The 15-inch BBS alloy wheels were the same, slightly bonkers – and bright, unless the optional posher leather trim was specified – interior was the same, and the re-invigorated hot Polo’s get-up-and-go was the same, too. The 0-62mph dash was dispatched in 8.7 seconds, although the Polo GTI’s 1.6-litre engine’s revvy and zippy personality made it feel faster.

I ran a 2001 Polo GTI for almost 10 years and loved it. Well-built with a colourful interior and many ‘big-car’ appointments such as xenon headlamps – the Polo GTI was the first small car to have them as standard – ABS, and traction control, it was never the sharpest driving tool in the box, but it was still a lot of fun. Which is why this 2001 Polo GTI which goes under the Car & Classic online auction hammer later today, piqued my interest.

Low mileage example
Only sold in the UK from 2000-2002, the ‘6N2’ Polo GTI is a moderately rare car, with only 3,300 imported during that period. Many have been modified or written-off (as happened to my beloved car, but only because it was involved in a rear-end smash in the summer of 2021), so there tend to be few chances to find a low mileage example. And what a gem this car looks to be.

The headline stats are one owner, and 86,000 miles. Yes, that’s right, this car has had just one owner, and has covered under 90,000 miles in 21 years. Externally, aside from its headlamps, which could do with a polish, it looks perfect, the Reflex Silver paintwork – the millennial Polo GTI was only available in black, red or silver like the original Golf GTI – contrasting nicely with the red tail lights.

Refurbished wheels
The brake calipers peeping out from behind the 15-inch BBS rims are red, just as they left the factory, and the split-rim wheels themselves have been refurbished. The listing stated that there is a very small imperfection on the paint on a wheel arch, but you’d be hard-pressed to see it. Inside, the Lupo-derived dash is fantastic, the red door cards look clean, as do the strangely-upholstered (I’ve never understood the number 1) sports seats. There’s a little wear on the outside bolsters which seems odd, as my car seemed to not suffer this, even after 148,000 miles, however, it’s all more than presentable.

The Sony six-CD autochanger is present and correct in the boot, and under the bonnet, the engine looks great, with its red HT leads still in place. A full service has just been undertaken, including a cambelt change, and the car has new Toyo tyres as well as new brake pads and discs. It also has a full service history and even the original bill of sale.

Potential modern classic
All in all, this Polo GTI is a great starting place for a potential modern classic. Although not quite at ‘classic’ level yet – the car has always lived in the Golf GTI’s shadow – as they get rarer, who knows what the future might hold for the 6N2 Polo GTI. But you’ve only got to look at the pictures to see the potential: tidy, understated styling that looks just right, wheels in a classic design that really suit the car, and an interior which screams ‘fun’ in a rare break from the Volkswagen norm. Add in a fantastically solid build, a zesty engine and that GTI practicality, and it looks a winner. I know, I owned one.

If you fancy owning one, too, head over to the Car & Classic listing to see full details and lots of photos of the car. The Polo GTI Car & Classic Auction starts at 14:30 today, 16 May.

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07 May 2022 ~ 0 Comments

Car & Classic Auction watch: 1989 Volkswagen Polo CL

It’s strange – and shocking – to realise that early examples of the second-generation Polo are now over 40 years old. However, that means that while it’s not quite a fully paid-up member of the bona-fide ‘classic car’ scene, it is starting to earn a reputation as a starter modern classic. Its cult currency is growing in VW circles, too.

Sloane Ranger darling
Very popular in its heyday – indeed at one point in the mid-1980s, Volkswagen UK sold more Polos than Golfs – the high-spec Polo ‘breadvan’ was the darling of ‘Sloane Rangers’, and was a common sight on the streets of London. (Though we doubt it influenced Volkswagen’s own decision to rename the top-spec GL the ‘Ranger’ from 1987, following a 1986 special edition with the same name.) Seen as an upmarket adversary to the Austin Metro, Fiat Uno, Ford Fiesta, Renault 5, and Vauxhall Nova, a top-rung Polo was a thing to behold.

As is this Polo, due to go under the online hammer on 8 May on the Car & Classic website. Very much a ‘Sloanie’ Polo in appearance, this 1989 Polo CL has covered just 42,700 miles since it rolled off the forecourt, and has an amazing 23 service stamps in its full and unmolested service book.

Fitted with the 55bhp 1,272cc engine, it has a little more get and go than the standard 1,043cc Polo. It’s a five-speeder, too. The listing states that it has barely ventured further than the local area in Sussex where it’s based, and going on the condition, we believe it!

Supplying dealer sticker
High points include the interior, which, thanks to constant garaging throughout the car’s life, is in fine fettle, with no damage to the plastics or fabric trim. The ashtray and cigarette lighter have never even been used, and the carpets have been protected by official Volkswagen floor mats.

While the exterior isn’t quite so blemish-free – a couple of rust spots and some minor paint issues – there is a supplying dealer sticker in the rear window, and all four of the distinctive ‘flat-face’ wheel trims are in place. There is even a pop-out sunroof, which, in period, could leak, but the listing points out this would appear not to be the case with this car.

All in all, G895 WOR looks like a ‘classic’ case of a very well-looked after and very low-mileage second generation Polo. Ironically, it’s its exceptional condition that makes it a car which deserves to shine at events such as Hegarty’s Festival of the Unexceptional. We hope it finds a good home and has its time in the spotlight.

If you fancy a slice of 1980s Sloane Ranger action, the Polo CL Car & Classic Auction starts at 14:25 on 8 May. Head over to the Car & Classic listing to see full details of the car and lots and lots of photos.

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04 March 2022 ~ 0 Comments

2022 Volkswagen Polo awarded five stars by Euro NCAP

The 2022 Volkswagen Polo has been awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by European safety testing body Euro NCAP. In the first round of 2022 tests, the Polo gained its ratings in all four areas of safety: adult and child occupant protection, vulnerable road users – cyclists and pedestrians – and standard assist systems.

Based on factors including frontal and lateral impacts and whiplash tests, the Polo scored 94 per cent in the ‘Occupant protection for adults’ category. One safety feature of all new Polos is a centre airbag for the front seats, which, in the event of a side collision, can help to prevent or reduce possible head contact between front seat occupants.

Child protection
For child protection, the Polo achieved an 80 per cent rating. Assessing the protection provided by child restraint systems in frontal or lateral impacts, the score also takes into account the options for the installation of child seats of various sizes, and the equipment a vehicle offers for the safe transportation of children.

In the ‘Assist systems’ category, the Polo achieved 70 per cent. As standard, all Polos feature a Driver Alert System, a Front Assist emergency braking system with city emergency braking function and pedestrian detection, as well as a Lane Assist lane keeping assistant.

Emergency braking systems
Euro NCAP also examines how well automatic emergency braking systems protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Here, the Polo scored 70 per cent. Its standard-fit Front Assist system recognises critical distance situations by using a radar sensor and camera, helping to shorten stopping distances. In more dangerous situations, the system warns the driver both visually and acoustically, and by issuing a braking jolt and automatic braking.

As well as the five stars achieved by the Polo, the new Volkswagen Taigo small SUV – closely related to the Polo – and the all-electric ID 5 were also awarded maximum Euro NCAP safety ratings. First launched in 1997, 2022 marks 25 years of the Euro NCAP safety assessment programme, and in that time, testing procedures and the requirements of standard assistance systems and passive safety have become increasingly rigorous.

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