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02 February 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen South Africa exports its 200,000th sixth-generation Polo

Volkswagen South Africa’s Uitenhage factory has produced its 200,000th example of the current Polo for export, following production of its 200,000th sixth-generation Polo in September 2019. The landmark export car rolled off the production line on 31 January.

The plant has manufactured over one million cars for export since 1994, and has enjoyed a tradition of exporting Polos to all right-hand drive markets, also supplementing demand for left-hand drive models. Total exports from Uitenhage now number a total of 1,098,960 vehicles.

The milestone follows a year of records for Volkswagen South Africa. In 2019 it manufactured a total of 161,954 vehicles, surpassing its previous record of 137,758 in 2011. More impressively, Volkswagen South Africa ended the year with a 23.4 per cent share of the passenger car market.

‘As a company we had many reasons to be proud in 2019, and this milestone sets the tone for another strong year ahead,’ said Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa chairman and managing director. ‘We intend to build on our strong performance in 2020, both in the local and export markets, and we remain committed to delivering excellence to both our customers and the larger community.’

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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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16 January 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo wins What Car? ‘Best Small Car’ 2020 award

The Volkswagen Polo has kicked off 2020 in the same way as 2019, awarded ‘Best Small Car’ by What Car? magazine. According to the judges, the VW supermini defended its crown thanks to its impressive blend of qualities that make it ‘a complete package’.

Pitched against Skoda’s Fabia 1.0 SE TSI 95, winner of the ‘Best Small Car – £14,000-£16,000’ category and the new Peugeot 208 PureTech 100 Allure which topped the ‘Best Small Car – More than £18,000’ segment, the Polo 1.0 SE TSI 95 was named the Overall Winner of the ‘Best Small Car’ prize, as well as being awarded the ‘Best Small Car’ £16,000-£18,000 trophy. The win marks the second consecutive year that it has claimed an overall victory in this category.

‘The complete package’
Every aspect of the Polo attracted praise, the judges particularly impressed with its comfortable interior, quiet engine, and overall value as a package. Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: ‘The Volkswagen Polo has an interior that’s easier to get along with than other small car rivals, as well as a quieter engine. When it comes to comfort, the Polo is the small car in which you’ll feel freshest after covering lots of motorway miles… It really is the complete package.’

At the same ceremony, the high-performance T-Roc R, the newest member of the Volkswagen SUV family, clinched its price point award of ‘Best Sports SUV under £40,000’. Like the Polo, the Touran people-mover also continued its run of success, collecting a win in its price point as ‘Best MPV £22,000-£30,000’. The 2020 What Car? Awards mark the fifth consecutive year in which the Touran has been celebrated in the MPV category.

The latest victory for the Polo adds to the impressive haul of prizes it won in 2019. The small Volkswagen was crowned ‘Supermini of the Year’ by Company Car Today magazine, ‘Safe Car of the Year’ at the First Car Awards, and ‘Small Car of the Year’ from the UK Car of the Year panel. Volkswagen products won a total of 26 UK awards in 2019, with the Up city car, the Polo and the Golf the most decorated products.

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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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