With the Series 3 and 3F Polos, Volkswagen no longer had to load the range with special editions as the cars were selling themselves.The list below is by no means exhaustive, but typically shows the most popular.
Hunk of (missing) metal: the Polo Open Air’s electrically-retracting canvas sunroof almost went the length of the car, like those fitted to Beetles many years before
The continental-only Colour Concept took its name from a similar model in the Golf range, and featured ‘Solitude’ alloy wheels and a range of five unique body colours with co-ordinating coloured leather trim details inside the interior. A later model was made available using the Polo Estate body.
Bright: Polo Colour Concept’s interior was as bold as it was sumptuous. Colours included black, blue, green, red and yellow available in hatchback and estate forms
The Polo Harlequin came to the UK not long after its appearance at the London Motor Show the previous autumn. Based on the 1.4 CL, the car featured its own upholstery, driver’s airbag, GLX ‘sports bumpers’, white indicators and darkened rear light clusters. The car was made in batches of four (Yellow, Pistachio Green, Chagall Blue and Flash Red were the colourways) and the customer could not specify a certain panel to be a certain colour – the colour combination that the car arrived in, would be a complete surprise. The price at launch (five door only) was £11,095.
Clown: the Polo Harlequin was supposed to represent fun with a capital F, Volkswagen showing that the Polo can do playful as well as sensible. Not many sold, though
A new UK-only model, the SE was based on the 1.4 L. It gained extra equipment consisting of ‘Sport Räder 9’ alloy wheels, GLX sports bumpers, darkened rear light clusters and white/clear indicators. The interior also had unique ‘Reflection’ upholstery, rear head restraints, height-adjustable front seats and split-folding rear seats. Prices started at £9,745 for the three door, with production numbers limited to four thousand. Optional extras were as the L, and the car was available in the full compliment of the Polo’s twelve body colours.
Special equipment: UK-only Polo SE came with alloy wheels, unique interior trim, white front indicators, tinted rear lights, GLX bumpers, front foglights and ‘SE’ badging
Joker (Germany), Pack Clim (France), Match/Match ABS/Match ABS 16V (France)
Joker: German-only special edition was another unique model which borrowed styling parts from the GLX. 15-inch ‘Solitude’ alloys were optional on the Polo 16V
The Polo GTI was launched on mainland Europe in the autumn of 1998, 23 years after the Polo’s introduction. Appearing at the Paris AutoSalon, it was launched in Germany not long after in a limited run of 3,000 cars. Seen as a spiritual successor to the Series 1 Golf GTI (their dimensions were almost identical), Volkswagen UK delayed plans to introduce the car into Britain until the range was revamped (Series 3F Polo) in mid-1999.
Sporty: first-generation Polo GTI of 1998 was the most powerful Polo to date with 1.6-litre, 120bhp engine. Racy exterior looked the part with 15-inch BBS alloy wheels
Available as a three or five-door hatchback, the interior received tweaks which included body-coloured door panel inserts and deeply padded front seats trimmed in upbeat new fabrics. The hottest Polo yet also came with a leather-rimmed steering wheel, red floor mat edging and seatbelts, and VW’s new trademark blue instrument lighting. Cosmetic exterior changes included the use of ‘GTI’ badges on the grille and tailgate and unique BBS 15″ alloy wheels wrapped in 195/45 15 rubber. Racy red plug leads and brake calipers also marked the GTI out as something special.
The engine that powered the new sports model was completely new. A 1.6 16V 120bhp unit it was said that the car would sprint to 60mph in 9.1 seconds, while top speed was a claimed 120mph. Chassis modifications included the use of uprated suspension with modified McPherson struts, while the rear employed a modified torsion beam.
Racy: red was the predominant colour in the Polo GTI’s interior, with seatbelts, steering wheel, gearknob, gaiter, floor mats and door panels all featuring bright detailing
The ride height had been lowered by 15 mm all round and the braking system was upgraded to cope with the extra power over the cooking 16V model. The front track was widened by 21mm, the rear by 16mm and ABS was fitted as standard, in addition to EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) traction control. The car was a relative bargain and sold in Germany for around the UK equivalent of £11,000.
In the spring of 1999, the UK market saw the introduction of the ‘Match’ special edition. Based on the Polo L, it had a sprinkling of optional equipment, that on its own would have cost more to add to the cost of the base-model car.
Game, set and match: the 1999 Polo Match followed in its predecessors by offering more equipment and unique looks for less money. Open Air package specified here, too
Available in 1.0 and 1.4-litre guises and with three or five-doors, the extra kit included Votex ‘5 Star Softline’ alloy wheels and manual glass tilt/slide sunroof. The 1.4 added power steering, tinted glass, central locking, electric windows, height adjustable front seats, rear head restraints and a split folding rear seat. The more powerful engine was also available with an automatic gearbox.
Revisions to the 2001 Polo range included the introduction of a new-generation ‘Colour Concept’ model, based on the SE. As in 1995, this model was available in five colours (Black, Evergreen, Flash Red, Jazz Blue, and Yellow), and featured a coloured leather interior. The seat and door panels trimmed in body colour, with coloured stitching on the leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob and gaiter. Available with the 1.4-litre 75bhp and 1.4 TDI engines, distinctive 15” ‘Interlagos’ alloy wheels were fitted.
Stand-out: like before, leather-trimmed second-generation Polo Colour Concept available in five eye-popping colours (Black, Evergreen, Flash Red, Jazz Blue and Yellow)
Another range addition in the form of a new ‘Match’ special edition was also introduced in 2001. Priced at £9,495 for the three-door model and £9,610 for the five-door, only the 1.4 60bhp engine was offered. Based on the S model, extra equipment included an electric glass sunroof and special ‘Match’ badging. Confusingly, just before the 3F model was discontinued, the Match’s glass sunroof was replaced with standard air-conditioning for a starting price of £9,615. As in 1999, automatic versions were £800 extra.
The same but different: 2001 Polo Match was the fourth model to wear the ‘Match’ badge, following incarnations in 1989, 1994 and 1999. Again, extra kit was the selling point