28 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Polo Active special edition jumps into Volkswagen Germany’s small car range

Volkswagen has announced a range of new Active special edition models that offer more generous equipment levels and unique features. Not to be confused with Ford’s more rugged and Active-branded editions of its standard models, the special VWs are only available on the German market. The Polo Active is just one.

The Polo Active features new 15-inch ‘Galway’ alloy wheels, ‘Active’ badging on the B-pillars, and ‘Active’-branded door sill trims. Inside, there is unique ‘Waveform’ trim, ambient lighting, and stainless steel pedals. The eight-inch ‘Ready 2 Discover’ colour infotainment system comes with DAB+ support as standard for ‘noise-free reception’ without an internet connection. The system can be upgraded to a full navigation set-up at a future date via the in-car shop app.

Active Plus package
Opt for the Active Plus package, 16-inch ‘Sebring’ alloy wheels, black mirror caps, wireless smartphone charging and Digital Cockpit Pro instruments are added. The Polo Active R-Line adds even more, with 17-inch ‘Bonneville’ rims and R-Line-styled bumpers and rear spoiler.

Polo Active prices start at €19,750 for the 78bhp 1.0-litre model. A pair of 1.0 TSI engines with 93bhp come with five-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearboxes and another brace of 1.0 TSIs offer 108bhp, the manual car fitted with six ratios. An 88bhp six-speed 1.0 TGI compressed natural gas (CNG) version rounds out the range, all of which can be ordered on Volkswagen’s German website.

In addition to the Polo, Active editions of the Up, T-Cross, Golf, T-Roc, T-Roc Cabriolet, Tiguan, Touran and Sharan are also available. A five-year warranty is standard on all.

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26 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Gryazin fifth in RC2 at 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo

Hot in the tyre tracks of Niclas Grönholm and Antto Linnaketo’s sixth place at the 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally, Nikolay Gryazin and his co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov took their Polo GTI R5 to fifth place in the RC2 class at the 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Russian duo’s strikingly liveried Movisport SRL Polo also clocked up the quickest RC2 time on the Power Stage at the 21-24 January event.

By the close of day one, the pair were third in RC2, but dropped a couple of places after day two’s 12 stages. In the overall results, Gryazin and Aleksandrov’s Polo was the highest-placed GTI R5, in 12th place. Three other versions of the 272bhp four-wheel drive rallying Polo were also to be found on the ‘Monte’ stages. Ex-Škoda and Volkswagen driver Kevin Abbring and co-driver Pieter Tsjoen’s number 26 car finished 12th in RC2 and 20th overall.

At the 89th ‘Monte’, the #52 machine of Olivier Burri and Anderson Levratti scored 10th in RC2 and 18th overall, and the number 60 GTI R5 of Philippe and Christophe Roux crossed the RC2 line 26th. The Swiss pair finished 46th in the overall rankings.

[Image: Volkswagen Motorsport]

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20 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

New Volkswagen Polo Harlequin created to brighten up Blue Monday

Here’s something to brighten up the darkest and bleakest January day. The enterprising Volkswagen importer in the Netherlands has created an updated version of the arresting Polo Harlequin, which was sold in Europe. Unveiled for ‘Blue Monday’ on 18 January, the new version of VW’s small car joker wears a brightly coloured wrap and is based on the current sixth-generation Polo.

It’s not the first time an updated version of the Polo Harlequin (named ‘Harlekin’ in Europe) has appeared of course, but this latest attempt is set apart by just how well it has been done, and by how ‘official’ it looks. But then it has, in effect, been made by Volkswagen Netherlands. There’s also the fact that its original Harlekin buddy in these images is in tip-top condition. It’s rekindling all sorts of rare Polo desires in us!

Originally on sale in the UK in April 1996 – yes, the Harlequin is now, unbelievably, 25 years old – after its its appearance at the 1995 London Motor Show, the Polo Harlequin was based on the 1.4 CL. Featuring their own unique upholstery, UK-bound Harlekins were equipped with a driver’s airbag, Polo GLX ‘sports bumpers’, white indicators, as well as darkened tail lights. The UK price at launch for the five-door-only model was £11,095.

‘Building block’ approach
Manufactured in batches of four (Yellow, Pistachio Green, Chagall Blue and Flash Red were the base car colours), the idea was reportedly born from how the continental, European-market Polo was sold. Employing a ‘building block’ approach where buyers could pick and choose between various option packs rather than the UK’s solid trim levels, the bundles were marketed with each one a different colour: blue for chassis and engine; yellow for equipment; green for paint colours; and red for options. Yep, you’ve guessed it, the same colours as the Harlequin panels.

The other innovative approach with the Polo Harlequin was that the buyer was unable to specify a particular panel to be a particular colour – the combination that their car arrived in would be a complete surprise! Around 250 Golf Harlequins employed the same idea in the US, and both the rainbow-coloured Polo and Golf may have been inspired by the ‘Ballyhoo’ Beetle of 1971 which was painted in the 10 colours of the UK-market model.

Initially a concept to gain a production acceptance, VW displayed the Harlequin at the 1995 Frankfurt motor show, and was inundated with customer requests to buy it. Twenty cars were initially made for the promotion of the ‘Baukasten’ building block option system, and a run of 1,000 cars followed. A total of 3,100 Harlequins were eventually produced. UK buyers bought only 113 examples, and a quick check on howmanyleft.co.uk shows that 27 Harlequin are still registered for use on UK roads.

Sadly, there are no plans to put the 2021 Polo Harlequin into serial production, the car clearly made just to brighten people’s spirits during what is traditionally a quiet and unexciting time of year. It has certainly succeeded. However, we think a production version could be just the ticket drivers need for 2021 as we hopefully start to slowly and steadily populate roads again, and see 2020 increasingly disappear in the rear view mirror. It’s also an anniversary ripe for exploiting. How about it VW?

[Images: Eric Van Vuuren / Volkswagen Netherlands]

Would you like to see a new and official production version of the Polo Harlequin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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18 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo Vivo crowned 2020’s most popular car in South Africa

2018 Volkswagen Polo Vivo

Volkswagen Group South Africa took the vehicle registrations top spot for 2020 in the local market, with the Polo Vivo once again crowned the country’s most popular new car. A total of 19,750 units of Volkswagen South Africa’s entry-level model were registered in the pandemic-hit year, almost a third of the VW-brand’s 53,319 recorded registrations.

The sixth-generation Polo-based T-Cross SUV was South Africa’s most popular imported car, with 5,693 units registered. Now the country’s second most popular vehicle in the A0 SUV segment, the T-Cross has fast found favour, on sale in South Africa for less than two years.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

A total of 63,482 vehicles were registered by Volkswagen Group South Africa in 2020 and the Volkswagen brand’s market share of 21.6 per cent is the highest in the company’s long history in South Africa. Audi also ended the year with an improved market share, up to 18.5 per cent, and even Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles enjoyed a record full-year 3.7 per cent piece of the light commercial pie. The Audi Q2 and Volkswagen Caddy were the respective star players.

‘A challenging year’
‘2020 was a challenging year not just for our brands but for the motoring industry as a whole and to come out of 2020 still holding onto our leadership of the passenger car market is an incredible feat,’ stated Mike Glendinning, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) sales and marketing director.

‘VWSA was severely affected by the pandemic which ground vehicle sales to a halt in April; our 2020 sales are down by 28.9 per cent year-on-year when compared to 2019,’ said Glendinning. ‘Despite the difficulties we faced, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand posted a record market share last year; the 21.6 per cent market share is 1.2 per cent higher than that of 2019 and is the highest market share in the history of the brand, as well as the highest market share of Volkswagen markets across the world,’ Glendinning added.

Production milestone
In November 2020, Volkswagen South Africa’s Uitenhage factory celebrated the four millionth car to roll off its lines. Currently the home of the Polo for local and export markets, as well as the Polo Vivo, the plant built 75,521 Polos for export up until the celebratory milestone, as well as 12,804 units for local consumption. A total of 17,038 Polo Vivos were also produced for the local market, the only one in which it is sold.

It looks to be another busy year for Volkswagen South Africa, with the brand celebrating its 70th birthday in August 2021. The year will be kickstarted by the arrival of the eighth-generation Golf GTI, followed later by the new Golf R and refreshed Tiguan. New versions of the Caddy and T6.1 Kombi will also debut. In the wider group sphere, Audi’s new A3 will also appear, along with refreshed versions of the RS 4, RS 5, RS 6, RS 7, RS Q8, RS Q3, and R8.

Steffan Knapp has also replaced Martina Biene as the head of the Volkswagen Passenger Car Brand in South Africa, and joins from Volkswagen India where he successfully turned the brand around. The fifth-generation Polo and its Vento saloon sister were launched there in 2010.

Elsewhere in the world, the sixth-generation Polo was the eighth most popular car in the UK, with 26,965 units registered (with grey the most popular colour – what a very imaginative bunch the British car buying public is!). According to focus2move.com, up until December 2020, the Polo was also the third most popular car in Europe during the year, its 225,941-unit total down 27.5 per cent compared to 2019. Behind its second-placed Golf sibling (283,614 units) and the top-spot Renault Clio (314,357 units), over 14 million Polos have been produced since its introduction in 1975.

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17 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Grönholm and Linnaketo score sixth at 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally

Volkswagen Motorsport may have closed its doors, but the rally monster that is the Polo GTI R5 can still be seen out on the stages. At least 15 of the 272bhp four-wheel drive rally machines were made before the end of 2018, its debut year, and the rally GTI has tasted victory in the hands of famous names, including Oliver Solberg, son of world champion Petter Solberg.

Another celebrated rallying name is now associated with the GTI R5. Niclas Grönholm, son of two-time WRC title holder and former Volkswagen test driver Marcus Grönholm took the wheel of a MRF-tyred Polo for the 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally. The Finnish event ran from 15-16 January and Grönholm’s ALM Motorsport-prepared car came home in tenth place overall at the end of the seven-stage event. The result puts the young Finnish rallycross driver and his co-pilot Antti Linnaketo sixth in the 2021 Finnish Rally Championship.

‘Very challenging’
‘It was great to have two cars wearing MRF Tyres inside the top 10. The stages were in good condition, but there was a lot of loose snow, and it was very challenging,’ reported Grönholm.

Other Arctic Lapland Rally Polo GTI R5 runners included the pairings of Egon Kaur and Silver Simm for Kaur Motorsport; Georg Linnamäe and Tanel Kasesalu in another ALM Motorsport car; and Jussi Keskiniva and Mikko Kaikkonen in a Printsport-liveried Polo. Keskiniva finished 18th overall, with Linnamäe 21st and Kaur 30th. The 2021 event isn’t the first at which Polo GTI R5s have been seen in action: in 2019, Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen helmed their small VW to victory.

There is more Polo GTI R5 action next weekend, as four cars are scheduled to take part in the 2021 running of the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.

[Images: MRF Tyres / Volkswagen Motorsport]

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