31 December 2017 ~ 0 Comments

The PoloDriver.com review of 2017

2017 was yet another busy year for the Volkswagen Polo. The launch and introduction of the all-new sixth-generation model has been the major news, and although there has been no Polo rally action in 2017, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI has dominated the World Rallycross Championship in the hands of Johan Kristoffersson.

But, with a debut for the new Polo GTI R5 later in 2018, the stages look set for a Polo return to asphalt and gravel action. The Engen Volkswagen Cup in South Africa is due to run new-generation Polo GTIs, too, in 2018, so next year’s Polo motorsport activity is shaping up very nicely.

Right now, though, we round up the Polo’s biggest achievements in 2017. (Bold entries are illustrated by the picture above that particular month’s list of events.)

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

January

  • Al-Attiyah confirms no Polo R WRC in 2017 FIA World Rally Championship
  • PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden rallycross team confirmed
  • Polo Sound special edition launched in Germany
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins Autocar India’s Performance Hatchback of the Year award
  • Polo is the tenth best-selling car in Europe (JATO).

2016 Volkswagen Polo GTI 230

February

  • FIA prohibits complete homologation of 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC
  • Polo GTI 230 special edition for Switzerland
  • Guy Wilks confirmed for Polo RX in 2017 World Rallycross Championship
  • Polo-based VW Ameo wins Car India and Bike India’s ’Compact Sedan Of The Year’ award
  • Polo is the seventh best-selling car in the UK.

2017 Volkswagen Citi Vivo (South Africa)

March

  • Citi Vivo special edition launched in South Africa
  • 1,250,000th Polo production jubilee celebrated by Volkswagen South Africa
  • Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI R-Line launched in South Africa
  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden reveals 2017 World Rallycross Polo GTI Supercar
  • Volkswagen Motorsport announces new Polo R5 rally car testing plans
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins the Thrill of Driving Award at the Times Auto Awards
  • Polo-based VW Ameo wins the Compact Sedan of the Year at the Times Auto Awards
  • Polo is the seventh best-selling car in the UK.

2017 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI Supercar, World RX of Barcelona: Kristoffersson

April


  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTIs show pace at World RX of Barcelona
  • Kristoffersson drives Polo GTI Supercar to World RX of Portugal podium
  • Volkswagen India launches limited edition Polo GT Sport
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins Flywheel Auto Awards’ 2017 Performance Hatchback of the Year award
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins BBC Top Gear Awards’ 2017 Hot Hatch of the Year award
  • Polo is the ninth best-selling car in the UK.

2018 Volkswagen Polo prototype

May

  • Fifth-generation Polo-based Volkswagen Vento Allstar and GT launched in Malaysia
  • World RX of Hockenheim podium place for Kristoffersson and Polo GTI
  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTIs dominate World RX of Belgium with double podium
  • Sixth-generation Polo prototype drives and ‘sneak peek’ video published
  • Solberg and Kristoffersson do the double at World RX of Great Britain
  • Polo is the fifth best-selling car in the UK.

2017 Volkswagen Polo world premiere

June

  • Volkswagen launches sixth-generation Polo ‘teaser’ video campaign
  • Johan Kristoffersson takes second 2017 World RX victory in Norway
  • First images of new Polo revealed ahead of 16 June world premiere
  • New sixth-generation Polo unveiled at Berlin world premiere event on 16 June
  • Polo is the eighth best-selling car in the UK.

> Read More

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04 December 2017 ~ 0 Comments

‘The rally sports car’: 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 rally car officially revealed

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

In somewhat of a surprise reveal (although we should have seen it coming), the new Polo GTI R5 rally car was unveiled tonight in Mallorca, at the official media driving presentation of the new production Polo GTI. The new motorsport version of the sixth-generation Polo has already been out testing and has been designed to compete in the WRC2 class of the FIA World Rally Championship from the second half of 2018.

While the car seen in the official release images is a mock-up (the black-tinted windows were a trick employed at the 2011 Polo R WRC reveal to mask a non-finished interior) Resplendent in Volkswagen’s red, white and grey ‘bar and block’ livery used on to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Golf GTI last year, the GTI R5 looks ready for action, and even though it wears the five-door clothes of the production car (all sixth-generation Polos have five door openings), with its enlarged front bumper and wheel arch extensions, it looks tough in a similar way to the four-time world championship-winning Polo R WRC.

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

1.6 litres, 272bhp, four-wheel drive
Power has been confirmed at 272bhp, and the GTI R5 is four-wheel drive, unlike the road car, which is front-wheel drive only. But, like the road car, the GTI R5 uses a four-cylinder turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection. However, in the R5, it has a capacity of 1.6 litres – the production GTI has a 2.0-litre unit – to comply with FIA regulations.

Maximum torque is 400Nm / 295lb ft, and the power is put down through a five-speed sequential racing gearbox. A 1,320kg weight means the GTI R5 sprints to 62mph from rest in just 4.1 seconds, a whole 2.6 seconds faster than the production Polo GTI. The steel body is made in Pamplona alongside regular Polos, and is strengthened with a roll cage and a first-class safety package. Development of the new Volkswagen rally challenger was helped by the know-how from the Polo R WRC programme, which resulted in a car which dominated top-flight rallying from 2013-2016.

Work on the Polo GTI R5 started at the beginning of 2017, with initial tests in mid-November on asphalt and gravel tracks at Fontjoncouse, France. Great Britain is next on the GTI R5 testing list, with time scheduled in for later this month. Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director François-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison and Project Manager Jan de Jongh are taking the reins for the GTI R5 programme. There’s no doubt the GTI R5 is in experienced hands: Jongh, as race engineer, cared for world champion Sébastien Ogier’s Polo R WRC.

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

‘A magnificent moment’
‘The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems. The feedback from the test drivers was very positive,’ said Demaison. ‘It is obviously beneficial to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world rally championship. And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, we are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015,’ he continued.

‘Presenting the new VW Polo GTI R5 to the public was a magnificent moment,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. ‘The close relationship to the road-going Polo GTI is unmistakable. In the rally Polo, the GTI family has another spectacular ambassador. Our team and our colleagues at Volkswagen Design in Wolfsburg deserve credit for this. Over the coming months, the Polo GTI R5 must prove itself in a series of tough scenarios, in order to ensure that it can build on the success of its predecessor in customers’ hands.’

Homologation and debut in 2018
Homologation of the new Hanover motorsport machine will take place next summer, before the first cars are delivered to customer sports teams. The first time the GTI R5 will turn a wheel in competitive anger is likely to be the autumn. The FIA’s R5 regulations first applied in 2012, and cover rally cars aimed at customer teams, privateers and young drivers. Over 400 cars have since been built by five manufacturers for competition in national and international series all over the world.

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

The new Polo GTI meanwhile, is available for pre-sale ordering in Germany from 5 December 2017, and is priced from 23,875 euros. Powered by a 2.0-litre TSI engine with 197bhp, standard sport running gear features on the latest member of the GTI family, and buyers have a choice of optional Sport Select running gear, too. A six-speed DSG gearbox will be standard initially, with a six-speed manual to follow. UK availability is yet to be revealed, but we’re already excited!

And whether the Polo GTI R5 will continue the success of the Polo R WRC we’ve yet to find out. The coming months will answer some initial questions, but with a championship-winning and hugely successful team as well as proven ingredients behind it, we expect it to be a major WRC2 player at least…

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28 November 2017 ~ 0 Comments

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 breaks cover in first test

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

The latest Polo rally car has officially broken cover, and has undergone its first testing session in France. The 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 was driven by Volkswagen Motorsport test driver Dieter Depping and Swedish World Rally Champion pilot Pontus Tidemand around a 3.85km asphalt route in Fontjoncouse.

Based on the new sixth-generation Polo, the Polo GTI R5’s brakes, cooling system, engine and tyres were all tested for durability on the dry asphalt surface. Testing then moved to gravel tracks to further push the chassis and suspension. The testing location was familiar to rally Polos, as the venue was where the first Polo R WRC tests took place in 2011. The recipe was honed from then on: Volkswagen Motorsport’s all-conquering car went on to win four consecutive World Rally Championship titles from 2013 to 2016.

‘A special feeling’
Depping was the test driver of that original Polo R WRC, too: ‘It is a special feeling to be back here, where the Polo embarked on its first rally adventure roughly six years ago,’ he said. ‘It is now about achieving the best possible set-up for the new Polo GTI R5. This first test was primarily about getting a lot of kilometres under our belt, in order to give the engineers as much data as possible. I can tell you one thing now: The R5 Polo is also very good, very quick and precise. I immediately felt right at home!” he added.

‘A successful first test is a good sign and great motivation,’ commented a pleased Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. ‘After the many hours and weeks spent working on our latest customer racing project on the computer, in both the design process and the workshop, the Polo GTI R5 can now finally show what it is capable of, and we can gain valuable data for the further development of the car.’

Three-day test
The three-day testing programme marked the start of the punishing development regime for the latest 270bhp four-wheel-drive rally Polo, which will be sold to professional customer teams and drivers to compete in national, global and the WRC2 class of the FIA World Rally Championship from the second half of 2018.

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07 November 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen releases first details of Polo GTI R5 world rally challenger

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Teased at the time of the demise of the multi-title-winning Volkswagen Polo R WRC last December, Volkswagen has today announced the first details of its ‘customer’-specification replacement, the Polo GTI R5.

The new 270bhp rally machine will take to the stages in the second half of 2018, and will be available to professional teams as well as ‘aspiring drivers’, and will be eligible for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in which its full works factory-backed car won four driver and manufacturer championships.

Based on sixth-generation Polo
The new tarmac and gravel car is based on the sixth-generation Polo (so we suspect it will share the road car’s five-door silhouette) and has been developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, who also built the 318bhp Polo R WRC. Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director – and ‘father’ of the Polo R WRC – François-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison is responsible for leading the development of the Polo GTI R5.

Dutchman and former race engineer for Sébastien Ogier, Gerard-Jan de Jongh is the Polo GTI R5 senior project engineer and also brings his expertise from the Polo R WRC programme: the Frenchman won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title with Volkswagen four times in a row. Initial test drives of the Polo GTI R5 will place later this year.

‘First-class racing machine’
‘Before the first race outing next year, we will subject the Polo GTI R5 to rigorous testing to make sure it is prepared for the extremely varied track conditions around the world, commented Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. ‘With the Polo GTI R5 we are hoping to transfer our expertise from four WRC titles to customer racing successfully, and offer a first-class racing machine for countless rally championships from national series to the WRC,’ he continued.

One interesting correlation is the naming of the new car ‘GTI R5’. Already forging a link to the road-going Polo with the 2017 World Rallycross championship Polo GTI RXs run by PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden, the new car will also bear the legendary Volkswagen three letters to draw links to, and promote, the new 197bhp Polo GTI which will be launched at the end of this year.

Turbocharged, four-wheel drive
Like the new hot-shot Polo, the GTI R5 has a direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine. There is also four-wheel drive – surely now that’s reason enough for a 300bhp Polo R, Volkswagen? – as well as a five-speed sequential racing transmission. A comprehensive safety package features, too.

The R5 category was introduced by the FIA in 2012 and enables importers, privateers, and teams the opportunity to compete in regional as well as international rally championships. The Polo GTI R5 will form an important second pillar for Volkswagen Motorsport’s new and realigned customer-focused portfolio: the Golf GTI TCR touring car has been winning circuit events and titles since its introduction in 2016.

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22 August 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Dieter Depping to run third PSRX Polo GTI Supercar at World RX of Germany

2017 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI, World RX of Germany: Depping

A third Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar will be making an appearance at round eleven of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship, the World RX of Germany, with VW test driver Dieter Depping sitting behind the wheel. The three-time German rally champion will make his world rallycross debut in the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden-run car at the Estering circuit on 30 September to 1 October.

The 51 year-old will contest the Buxtehude races alongside PSRX team owner and ex-WRC champion Petter Solberg and current World Rallycross Championship leading driver Johan Kristoffersson. The first time former Dakar driver Depping has driven in competition since the 2010 Nürburgring 24-hour race. ‘I’m really looking forward to it, but also have a huge amount of respect for the races,’ the experienced circuit driver said.

‘When Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets asked me if I could envisage starting at my home race in Buxtehude, I didn’t need to think about it for long,’ explained Depping, beaming. ‘I will prepare for the races and am already looking forward to the great setting at the Estering. My thanks also go to Petter Solberg’s team, who are taking me and my Polo under their wing for this competition,’ he continued.

‘Dieter Depping has done a valuable job for Volkswagen as a test driver and racing driver for many years. He was part of the Dakar team, was involved in the development of countless racing cars and played a major role in Volkswagen bringing home a total of twelve world championship titles with the Polo R WRC,’ said Smeets. ‘The start in Buxtehude is a way of thanking Dieter Depping for his fantastic work, but we are also delighted to have a local hero lining up at the rallycross highlight in Lower Saxony.’

PROFILE: DIETER DEPPING
Dieter Depping was born on 7 August 1966 in Hannover, Germany. He first watched motorsport as a rally spectator when he was 18 years old. In 1990 he contested his rookie season in the German rally trophy in a Volkswagen Golf he built himself, winning the competition. Between 1992 and 1994 he won three titles in the German rally championship, three victories at ADAC Rally Germany (1994, 1996, 1997), and finished runner-up twice in the European championship in 1994 and 1995.

He then took a break from professional racing and devoted himself to the family business. He joined Volkswagen Motorsport as a test driver and works driver in 2001. He made his debut in a Volkswagen Tarek at the 2003 Dakar Rally, as the team-mate of Jutta Kleinschmidt. In 2009, he made his second appearance, in a Race Touareg.

Depping has also contested circuit races for Volkswagen, including the Nürburgring 24-hour race. As a test driver, Depping made a crucial contribution to the development of the hugely successful Polo R WRC the end of 2011. That four-time championship-winning machine also formed the basis for the current World Rallycross Championship Polo GTI Supercar.

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