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Find the latest Polo news from around the world, past-model flashbacks, road tests, spotlights on selected models, as well as views from contributors here. If there is a Polo story that you would like to share or if you would just like to get in contact, email us at info@polodriver.com

29 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport announces new Polo R5 rally car testing plans

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Portugal: Volkswagen Service

With the launch of the sixth-generation Polo imminent, Volkswagen has announced it plans to start testing the ‘R5’ rally version of its new supermini later this year. Coincidentally, this will most likely in September, around the time the road-going version of car makes its first public appearance at the Frankfurt motor show. The new rally challenger will be eligible for the WRC2 support category of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Four years of dominance
Focusing on customer activities after the withdrawal from top-flight WRC activities after four years of dominance with the Polo R WRC from 2013-2016, the R5 car will be built by Volkswagen Motorsport at its Hanover base. Development of the car is already underway and as well as a four-wheel drive chassis, the jointly-developed VW/Škoda 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the successful Fabia R5 is expected to appear.

The outfit’s experience of twelve major title wins will also play a vital part in the new Polo R5’s make-up. Development of the 315bhp, four-wheel drive all-conquering Polo R WRC followed a similar path: pre-competition components were tested on a fleet of Škoda Fabia S2000s which contested the 2011 and 2012 World Rally Championships ahead of the Polo R WRC’s debut on the 2013 Monte-Carlo Rally. The current Škoda Fabia R5’s engine pumps out around 280bhp and is being further optimised for the new Polo R5, which will be available to customer teams in 2018, following a summer homologation.

Although the new car will mark Volkswagen’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship, autosport.com has reported that the Polo R5 will not be fielded by a factory team. Škoda enters its Fabia R5 in rounds of the European Rally Championship, as well as the WRC2 support series. Continuing his link with the stillborn 2017 Polo R WRC, Marcus Grönholm will continue to help develop the R5 machine.

With development of the full-fat 2017 Polo R WRC almost complete, the plug was pulled on Volkswagen Motorsport’s official works WRC programme in November, but director Sven Smeets has commented that plans for customer teams to run the 2016 version of the title-winning car are underway: ‘There is customer interest in running the tried-and-tested Polo R WRC at various rallies. Our to-do list is very full,’ he said.

That to-do list includes a focus on the Golf GTI TCR – the touring car version of the legendary hatchback which runs in the International TCR series – as well as supporting global and world rallycross series. The 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship sees the outfit lend its technical support to Petter Solberg’s PSRX team, which, with the backing of Volkswagen Sweden, is fielding a pair of 570bhp Polo GTI Supercars in the twelve-round series: one each for Solberg himself and 2016 runner-up Johan Kristoffersson.

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21 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden reveals 2017 World Rallycross Polo GTI Supercar

2017 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI Supercar

‘There is only one target: winning.’ That was the message which came from the new PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team yesterday as the new 2017 Volkswagen Polo rallycross competition car was unveiled in Stockholm. Its new drivers, ex-World Rally and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg (also the PSRX team owner), and Johan Kristoffersson, who came second in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross season, pulled the covers off the new machine.

This year, the familiar rallycross Polo silhouette has both a new engine, as well as a new name – the ‘GTI’ badge has been attached to the project, to encourage correlation with the production car. That’s something the Polo R World Rally Championship (WRC) car never achieved, due to the lack of a true halo road-going powerful performance model.

‘Realisation of a dream’
The Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar is, according to its new team, ‘the realisation of a dream for PSRX and a great new beginning for Volkswagen Sweden’, the latter of which gave its backing to Marklund Motorsport last year, running a pair of Polo RX Supercars for Kristoffersson and Anton Marklund. Now however, the official involvement of Volkswagen Motorsport should up the rallycross Polo’s game considerably.

The 2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar has 570bhp and will accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds. With a chassis developed from the 2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, the engine is a development of the unit from the Beetle Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) car, which has contested events in the US for the past three years.

The latest version of Volkswagen’s rallycross machine uses similar damper and transmission technology to the Polo R WRC, too, but everything in the car’s dynamic and technical make-up has been adjusted to suit the demanding FIA World Rallycross (WRX) technical regulations, which sees cars take on mixed-surface short circuit racing venues.

2017 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI Supercar

Guiding hand
Another carryover to the new car is that the development was carried out by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hanover, with the German engineers under the guidance from Technical Director FX Demaison, who was a guiding hand in Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship dominance from 2013 to 2016. Demaison knows Solberg well: he worked with the Norwegian at Subaru and also with Solberg’s private WRC team.

In terms of appearance, the new rallycross challenger looks to have more in common to its rallying relation, too. The wheel arches bear more than a passing resemblance to the now defunct Polo R WRC, while the new 2017 livery colours take the electric blue/pale blue stripes of the former Volkswagen Motorsport rallying machine and mixes them with the matt black of Monster Energy.

All in all, it’s an exciting combination, then. And Kristoffersson agrees: ‘I think that it is so exciting. Getting started with Petter, PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden is perfect for me. What we must do now is to take advantage of this perfect partnership, do a perfect lap and a perfect finish!’ said the 28 year-old.

Solberg meanwhile is thrilled to have official involvement from both Volkswagen Sweden and Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘This is a dream for me. We have worked for this for so long and to have finally reached the finish. I’m so happy to be working with Volkswagen Sweden and Volkswagen Motorsport this year, and now we have a real opportunity to realise a dream.’

Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden

‘A beautiful monster’
The Polo GTI Supercar may have only been built in just three months, but Solberg is confident of its chances. ‘We have tested the Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar for some time now and every time I step out of it, I do so with a smile on my face. And then I just want to step in and run some more. It is a real monster, but it’s a beautiful monster created by the brilliant people at Volkswagen Motorsport.’

The Norwegian continued: ‘I want to say a very, very big thank you to all the sponsors who made this year possible. All the efforts made during the pre-season will be awarded in 2017, I do not doubt for a moment. Johan and I will work as a team. I’ve known John a long time now, and we fully trust each other. We will work as a team and this year we compete on a totally equal terms.’

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets said: ‘We are looking forward to seeing the Polo GTI Supercar in its natural environment. We have worked very hard with PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden to get the Polo GTI Supercar completed in a relatively short time. Now that the car is ready and tested, we are all looking forward to the first race in Barcelona. We all want to see how Petter, Johan and our Polo fare against a very strong field in a very exciting championship.’

We look forward to watching the invigorated rallycross Polo in action, too. A taster of what we can expect is shown in the car unveiling video below. Better-looking, more powerful and perhaps more thoroughly developed than ever before, the 2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar appears set to mount an impressive challenge when the first round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship – the World RX of Barcelona – gets underway on 31 March to 2 April at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.


Type: turbocharged and inter-cooled in line four cylinder, mounted transversely
Displacement: 2,000cc
Power output: 570bhp
Torque: 650Nm/479lb ft
Bore/stroke: 86 x 86mm
Air restrictor: 45mm (FIA regulation)
Engine control unit: Bosch

Gearbox: sequential six speed racing transmission
Final drive: permanent four-wheel drive with fixed drive between front and rear axles, front and rear multi-plate limited slip differentials
Clutch: hydraulically-actuated triple disc carbon

Front/rear: MacPherson struts, lower control arms, ZF dampers
Suspension travel: 240mm
Steering: servo-assisted rack and pinion
Braking system: vented 325mm front and rear brake discs, four-piston aluminium brake calipers
Wheels: 8.5 x 17-inch
Tyres: 225 x 640 R17 Cooper

Build: FIA-controlled reinforced steel body

Length/width/height: 4,000/1,820/1,452mm
Track width: 1,600mm
Wheelbase: 2,490mm
Minimum weight: 1,300kg

Acceleration: 0-100kph/0-60mph in approx 1.9 seconds
Top speed: up to 200kph/124mph

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15 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Racy R-Line-trimmed Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI launched in South Africa

2017 Volkswagen Polo R-Line 1.0 TSI (South Africa)

Volkswagen South Africa has added a 1.0-litre TSI model to its Polo range. A precursory step towards a smaller-capacity engine range in the country, somewhat surprisingly, Volkswagen South Africa is only offering the Polo 1.0 TSI in sports-orientated R-Line trim.

Performance and parsimony
Retailing at R290,200 (VAT and emissions tax included), the Polo R-Line’s 999cc three cylinder engine develops 81kW/108bhp and posts a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds. Peak torque of 200Nm/148lb ft is available from 2,000 to 3,500rpm. Top speed is 197km/h or 122mph, while economy is quoted as 4.4 litres per 100km/64.2mpg. Performance and parsimony: it would appear the Volkswagen South Africa Polo R-Line has it all.

Key to that impressive fuel economy is a Stop/Start system paired to BlueMotion Technology with a battery regeneration system, as well as a standard seven-speed DSG transmission. Yes, that’s right, there is no manual version of the South African Polo R-Line. It’s interesting that the 1.0 TSI tiddler is only aimed at drivers of a ‘sporty’ bent (ie the young), in South Africa: in the UK Polos with this engine come in similar R-Line or ‘luxury’ SEL variants.

As with other markets, R-Line trim means a front fog lights, a logo-ed front grille, chrome exhaust pipe, ‘R-Line’ front and rear bumper, sill extensions, rear diffuser and spoiler body kit package as well as 17-inch ‘Serron’ alloy wheels, a common and attractive rim seen in Europe but hard to spot in the UK, as they are only available as an option on the Polo GTI.

Personalisation options
Inside, the South African Polo R-Line 1.0 TSI has a five-inch ‘Composition Colour’ touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth/USB and iPhone/iPod connectivity, fatigue detection warning system, ‘Cell’-trimmed sports front seats and a multifunction steering wheel. Personalisation options include an upgrade to a 5.8-inch ‘Composition Media’ infotainment system with App-Connect functionality as well as a ‘Light and Vision’ package (auto-dimming mirror, automatic headlights and wipers).

Over 155,600 fifth-generation Polo hatchbacks have been sold in South Africa since its launch in February 2010, and the multiple award-winner is the second best-selling car in the country. Only its Polo Vivo relation beats it. Available to order now, the Volkswagen South Africa Polo R-Line 1.0 TSI is offered with a 3-year/45,000km service plan, a 3-year/120,000km warranty in addition to a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 15,000km.

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08 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

1,250,000th Polo production jubilee celebrated by Volkswagen South Africa

Volkswagen South Africa celebrates production of its 1,250,000th Polo

On 6 March, Volkswagen South Africa celebrated the production of the 1,250,000th Polo at its factory in Uitenhage. Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa joined in the celebrations, together with employees and management of the vehicle assembly line.

Local and international markets
The South African Volkswagen plant which is 1,000km from Johannesburg builds both the current fifth-generation Polo, Cross Polo and its entry-level sister, the Polo Vivo, which is based on the 2005-2009 facelifted fourth-generation Polo. Uitenhage Polos are produced for local and international markets, with some right-hand drive models exported to the UK.

Polo Vivo meanwhile is an African-only model, introduced in 2010 to replace the Citi Golf. From December 2016, Kenya joined Uitenhage as a production facility and the car is sold in both countries. Both Polo and Polo Vivo have been the best-selling passenger cars in South Africa for the past seven years.

The 518,912 square-metre Uitenhage plant is a Volkswagen ‘Think Blue’ sustainable-initiative factory, and employs 4,000 people. In 2015 it built 120,000 Polo, Cross Polo, and Polo Vivo cars, in addition to 113,000 1.4 and 1.6-litre ‘EA111’-series engines for consumption by the whole VW group. Fifty-five per cent of the vehicles produced at Uitenhage in 2015 were exported.

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07 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo is once again one of the UK’s most popular cars

2017 Volkswagen Polo (UK)

After missing the chart in January, the Volkswagen Polo is once again one of the UK’s top 10 most popular cars. In February 2017 – and despite being only months away from the end of production – 1,746 examples of the fifth-generation VW supermini found new homes, putting it in seventh place.

The latest registration figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) once again saw the Ford Fiesta at the top of the most popular cars list, even as, like the Polo, that car is due to be replaced by a new model very soon. A total of 4,282 Fiesta were registered in February, the small Ford sitting pretty at the top of the year-to-date figures pile, too.

The UK’s top 10 most popular passenger cars during February 2017 and the year overall (sales figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Ford Fiesta: 4,282 (12,777, 1st)
2 Volkswagen Golf: 2,949 (8,404, 2nd)
3 Vauxhall Astra: 2,170 (6,235, 4th)
4 Ford Focus: 1,971 (6,767, 3rd)
5 Nissan Qashqai: 1,829 (5,329, 6th)
6 Mercedes-Benz C Class: 1,760 (5,990, 5th)
7 Volkswagen Polo: 1,746 (4,742, 9th)
8 Audi A3: 1,532 (4,650, 10th)
9 Vauxhall Corsa: 1,362 (5,260, 7th)
10 BMW 3 Series: 1,341

(The 2017 year-to-date top 10 most popular car absent from February 2017’s registration figures was the eighth-placed Nissan Juke with 4,759 cars registered.)

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