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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29 December 2012 ~ 3 Comments

Limited-run performance Polos – 2004 Polo Club Sport

2004 Volkswagen Polo Club Sport

The €33.900 2013 Polo R WRC is just the latest in a line of limited-run Polos made by Volkswagen. An admittedly small line, the German manufacturer has, when it has seen fit, produced special runs of go-faster Polos, inspired by, or to celebrate, motorsport success. The Polo R WRC heralds the arrival of the Polo R WRC competition car which makes its debut in the World Rally Championship next year, and will see only 2500 left-hand drive examples leave the Volkswagen’s R GmbH skunkworks. It may well be the most powerful production Polo ever with 218bhp, but it’s not the first. An even more focused motorsport-inspired Polo left Volkswagen Individual’s production line eight years ago – say hello to the Club Sport.

The Polo Club Sport celebrated the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup, a one-make series which visited the race tracks of Germany from 2004-2009. The race cars were proper, stripped-out tintops, powered by 1984cc, 148bhp FSI engines. It differed by having 30bhp more, courtesy of its 1.8-litre, turbocharged engine, ubiquitous in the Volkswagen Group range of cars at the time. A strict two-seater, Volkswagen encouraged potential owners to ‘Experience the fascination of motorsport’. It stated that ‘Stamina, concentration and enthusiasm’ were all part of the Polo Club Sport’s make-up, and going on looks alone, it appeared it could deliver.

Largely identical to the Polo Cup racers, the Club Sport featured external add-ons such as front and rear spoilers, side skirts, 17-inch ‘Aristo’ alloy wheels borrowed from the Golf R32 fitted with 205/45 R17 Dunlop tyres, and a sports-tuned exhaust. Colour choice was as limited as the car itself, with only Flash Red, Reflex Silver and Yellow being the available hues. Inside, the Club Sport was equally as focused. Two Recaro racing seats featured Schroth harnesses, while Alcantara was liberally applied to the headlining, pillar trim, luggage space and steering wheel (which later appeared without the suede-like material in the Polo Fun/Dune). A half-roll cage painted in the body colour completed the motorsport accoutrements, while a numbered plaque informed the driver of his/her place in the very limited production run.

How limited? That’s where the details of the Polo Club Sport get sketchy. Although brochures were dated May 2004, there seem to be no details on prices, production figures (exact or approximate), or whether the car only available to Polo Cup drivers, or the wider general public. We would hope it was the latter, but whatever was the true case, the Polo Club Sport remains arguably the most motorsport-focused road Polo there’s ever been, and has the potential to wipe the smile off the faces of those who think Volkswagen’s premium small hatch is best suited for those shopping runs to the local supermarket. You could drive to the shops in the Polo Club Sport of course, but you’d just have to go via the race track first…

2004 VOLKSWAGEN POLO CLUB SPORT

Engine: 1781cc four-cylinder petrol with turbocharger
Power: 178bhp/132kW (180PS)
Gearbox: Five-speed manual (MQ 250-5F)
Wheels/tyres: 17-inch ‘Aristo’ alloy wheels/Dunlop 205/45 R17 tyres
Exterior: motorsport front and rear spoilers, side skirts, sports-tuned exhaust
Interior: Alcantara-trimmed pillar trim, luggage space, roof lining and steering wheel, half roll cage, numbered dashboard plaque.

[Additional images: AutoBild.de]

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