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27 May 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Oliver Solberg wins Rally Liepāja

Seventeen-year-old Oliver Solberg made motorsport history over the weekend of 24-26 May, as he and co-driver Aaron Johnston crossed the line first at the 2019 Rally Liepāja in his Bullfrog and Circle K-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The son of World Rally and World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg became the youngest ever winner in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC).

The third round of the 2019 ERC season, Solberg and Johnston completed the 128-mile event 22.7 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals, reigning ERC victors Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov of Russia. The Latvian rally was Solberg’s first event with the Polo GTI R5 on gravel and the young Norwegian won a supremely impressive ten stages from a possible 13. ‘This is the best day of my life, absolutely unbelievable,’ Solberg exclaimed.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: Rally Liepaja, Solberg/Johnston

Biggest win of his life
By the end of day one, Solberg and Northern Irish Johnston had built a 9.7-second advantage over their nearest rivals. Only sliding wide in a right-hand junction mid-way through the third stage cost the youngster the chance to dominate every stage. Solberg doubled his lead on day two, and not even rutted roads and the onset of rain derailed him. He sealed the biggest win of his life with the fastest time on the 13th and final stage.

It was the Polo GTI R5’s first ERC win, too, the 270bhp Volkswagen Motorsport customer sports rally machine the very same car Petter Solberg debuted last year. ‘Our car has the chassis number one and last October my father drove it at the Rally Spain for the first time,’ said Solberg. ‘For me it’s really special that he lets me drive it now.’

He continued: ‘This is the biggest moment of my life, the biggest day of my life. Of course, I wanted to be at the front, but this is the European championship and it’s a level up from where I am competing. In the shakedown, I wanted to make some changes to the car and the notes weren’t quite perfect. I pushed in the Qualifying Stage and we came out fastest.

‘So proud’
‘I have to say a big thank you to my team – they made the car so comfortable for me. I had no problems and I was taking the confidence that I could push and push harder. I want to say a big thank you to everybody at the European Rally Championship, too, as I have been made to feel so welcome. And to become the youngest ever winner of an ERC round is unbelievable. I’m so proud to do this. What a day for me and Aaron. Fantastic!’ reported a delight Solberg.

Triple champion Petter Solberg was proud of his son had achieved. ‘I know we keep saying this, but what Oliver’s doing is unbelievable. We didn’t know what to expect from the ERC, but he’s come and won the rally. From the fastest time at the qualifying stage and all the way through the event, he’s controlled everything. He’s also been the calmest guy out of all of us!’

Rally Liepāja also staged the third and fourth rounds of the Latvian Rally Championship. Solberg and Johnston are also competitors in the national series, and were beaten in the third round by Estonians Georg Gross and Raigo Mõlder in their more powerful Ford Fiesta WRC. The fourth round saw the Norwegian-British pair grab victory by 32.5 seconds, which enabled them to build on their lead in the overall championship. Solberg and Johnston also took victory at the previous two Latvian Rally Championship events, the 2019 Rally Alūksne and the 2019 Rally Sarma.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: Rally Liepaja, Herczig/Ferencz

Fourteenth and seventeenth
Another pair of Polo GTI R5s competed in the 2019 Rally Liepāja. The Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR) Polo of Norbert Herczig and Ramon Ferencz started the Latvian event first and acted as a ‘sweeper’ on the stages, only achieving 14th in the final results. Another BRR Polo driven by Albert von Thurn and Taxis and Bernhard Ettel enjoyed a solid run and finished 17th.

[Images: Herczig car – Alexandre Guillaumot]

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08 May 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo rises one place in UK new car registrations chart

2019 Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo increased in popularity during April 2019, and was the seventh most popular car in the UK, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). A total of 3,022 Polos were registered in April and its top ten ten chart placing is one position up on March. With a tally of 16,111 Polos registered in so far in 2019, the small Volkswagen is currently – and neatly – seventh in the year-to-date list, too.

Golf and Tiguan also in top ten

Once again, the Volkswagen Golf was in third place for April, moving up once place to second in the year-to-date tally. The Volkswagen Tiguan SUV was one place behind the Polo in eighth in the April set of figures, and the Ford Fiesta again tops both run-downs. The Ford Focus makes up the top three in both lists.

Overall, UK registrations declined again in April. A 4.1 per cent slump to a total of 161,064 units is the second lowest April volume since 2012. In an about turn, the supermini market fell 14.1 per cent, with the small family car segment also suffering a 10.6 per cent loss. Overall, alternatively-fuelled vehicle numbers rose by 12.7 per cent, with petrol electric hybrids the most popular choice. Battery electric cars also grew to 1,517 units, but still only account for 0.9 per cent of the market. Petrol and diesel volumes were down, but not by as significant amounts witnessed in recent months.

The UK’s top ten most popular cars during April 2019 and the year-to-date (sales figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Ford Fiesta: 5,606 (29,080, 1st)


2 Ford Focus: 9,734 (21,233, 3rd)


3 Volkswagen Golf: 3,953 (21,365, 2nd)

4 Nissan Qashqai: 3,791 (20,211, 6th)

5 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 3,584 (20,216, 5th)

6 Ford Kuga: 3,455 (14,260, 8th)
7 Volkswagen Polo: 3,022 (16,111 7th)
8 Volkswagen Tiguan: 2,822
9 Vauxhall Corsa: 2,728 (20,735, 4th)

10 Hyundai Tucson: 2,702

(The 2019 year-to-date top ten most popular cars absent from April 2019’s registration figures were the ninth-placed Kia Sportage and the tenth-placed Mini with 13,329 and 13,280 units recorded respectively.)

Polo Vivo atop South African new car chart
Once again, the Polo Vivo reigned supreme at the top of the South African new passenger car registrations chart. The latest NAAMSA South African registration figures point to 2,350 Polo Vivos finding new homes during April, with the sixth-generation Polo’s total at 1,165. A much smaller figure, 235 Polo Sedans were registered in South Africa last month.

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30 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Forge Motorsport offers air intake kit for sixth-generation Polo 1.0 TSI

While some Polo drivers may yearn for the GTI, its high tech-focused and corresponding high performance mean high prices. Not to worry, though, as Forge Motorsport has announced details of its air intake kit for those with sixth-generation Polo 1.0 TSIs who want to up the performance ante of their small-capacity models.

Billed as a ‘high performance intake’, the Forge replacement channels more air into the inlet of the engine thanks to its free-flowing design, and forms a good springboard from which to plan further modifications. Finished in aluminium, its bespoke housing draws in cold air from an inlet on the slam panel and also shields the same incoming air from residual heat generated by the engine.

Lifetime warranty
As well as the intake itself, a silicone hose is also included in the kit, along with a Pipercross air filter element. The high quality hose is available in three colours – black, blue and red – and has a smooth inner bore as well as larger diameter than the OEM Volkswagen part. It’s also offered with a lifetime warranty. The filter meanwhile is fully serviceable and replaceable, and according to Forge’s research and development team, is the the only one to offer adequate filtration to the small-capacity engine, in addition to feeding in enough air to increase performance.

The Forge Motorsport Polo 1.0 TSI intake kits come with detailed fitting instructions – said to be easy enough to be bolted into place within half an hour – and as a replacement for the OEM parts, there is no danger of damage to your Polo’s engine bay. The price for the FMINDK15 kit is £191.61 plus VAT. For more details, head to the Forge Motorsport website, or call 01452 380999.

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26 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Gilbert takes third place at Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône: Gilbert/Guieu

French rally driver Quentin Gilbert has taken his HK Racing Polo GTI R5 to third place at the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône, the second round of the 2019 French Rally Championship. Gilbert and co-driver Christopher Guieu just missed out on a runner-up podium position by just 0.8 seconds, beaten by Citroën C3 R5 driver Yohan Rossel.

But, Gilbert was still pleased his and Guieu’s result after the 130-mile event. ‘Of course, we’re disappointed to have missed out on second place by such a small margin, but all in all this is another good result. We had good speed, even though we could not keep up with the pace at the front.’

The winner of the 2019 Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône was reigning French rally champion Yoann Bonato in another Citroën C3 R5. Thanks to this result and their second place at the Rallye Touquet Pas-de-Calais opening round, Gilbert and Guieu are second in the overall 2019 championship standings. Find out more at www.ffsa.org.

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19 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

SAIC Volkswagen debuts Chinese-only Polo Plus at 2019 Shanghai motor show

2019 SAIC Volkswagen Polo Plus

SAIC Volkswagen has unveiled the Polo Plus, a new version of the sixth-generation Polo, at the 2019 Shanghai motor show. The current Polo, Cross Polo, and Polo GTI models sold in China are based on the fifth-generation car, which disappeared from European markets in 2017.

Somewhat strangely, at 4,053mm, the SAIC Volkswagen Polo Plus is 3mm shorter and 11mm narrower (1,740mm) than the European sixth-generation Polo, which is essentially the same car. The Polo Plus looks to be based on the Polo Beats, with the same 16-inch ‘Torsby’ alloy wheels and gloss black B-pillars featuring the ‘Beats’ logo. Distinctive, the Polo Plus also has a dual-tone Honey Yellow and black colour scheme, with a gloss black roof, rear spoiler, and mirror caps. C-pillar and rear hatch ‘Plus+’ badges mark out the new model.

2019 SAIC Volkswagen Polo Plus

Honey Yellow accents
Unlike the Novo Polo sold in Brazil, the Polo Plus gets the European Polo’s front bumper, but the car is less highly specified. LED daytime running lights are missing for example, but the rear bumper does feature Polo R-Line-style fake exhaust finishers. Inside, Honey Yellow dashboard, door and centre console accents lift the standard sixth-generation Polo interior, while unique upholstery also points to a Polo which is a little more special.

Standard kit includes a panoramic sunroof, a colour touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a rear view camera. The Polo Plus is powered by the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine linked to the same five-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearboxes as the standard Chinese Polo.

No prices or availability have yet been announced for the Polo Plus, but further details can be found online at the SAIC Volkswagen Polo Plus micro-website.

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