12 July 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo stars at 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed in celebration of Marcello Gandini

PoloDriver.com editor Rich Gooding tells the story of how an original 1970s Polo ended up being parked on the Cartier Style et Luxe lawn at the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed

The words ‘Polo’ and ‘Goodwood Festival of Speed’ rarely, if ever, appear in the same sentence. So it was with great excitement that I opened an email from one of the organising team of the UK’s – the world’s – greatest motorsport festival.

In addition to the obvious action of cars speeding up the hill in front of Goodwood House, the four-day event has static displays, too, the most prestigious area being the Cartier Style et Luxe lawn, which usually features priceless supercars and vintage machinery on the grass next to Lord March’s country house. For 2024, one section of the lawn was to celebrate the work of car designer Marcello Gandini, who worked for Italian styling house Bertone, and was said to have had a hand in the Audi 50 of 1974, which became the original Volkswagen Polo.

Unmolested example
I feel this may be too laboured a point, as numerous stories haven’t confirmed the authenticity of this claim, but Goodwood wanted a car for the lawn, so around two months before the event, tasked me with the task of finding an unmolested example of Volkswagen’s pretty 1970s supermini. One lead sadly didn’t happen, so a post on a couple of now almost-defunct Polo forums resulted in Stuart Turner’s gorgeous 84,000-mile Manila Green 1977 Polo L being picked for the event.

Having seen it on Thursday 11 July when the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed opened its gates, the car looked perfect, with all the period details present and correct. Stuart has done a fantastic job in restoring the car to a period specification and, placed near one entrance/exit gate, it was attracting as much attention as the Lamborghini Miura and Countach parked just a few feet away.

It has been a genuine honour to see a Polo at such a prestigious event, and if you’d like to catch a glimpse of Stuart’s immaculate Polo at Goodwood, head to the Cartier Style et Luxe lawn. The 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed started on 11 July, and runs through the rest of the weekend of 13-14 July at the Goodwood Estate near Chichester in the UK.

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30 June 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo makes World RX comeback with Kristoffersson Motorsport

In addition to being a successful circuit racer and rally car, the Volkswagen Polo has been a rallycross star, too. It has dipped out of the FIA World Rallycross (World RX) series in recent seasons due to the championship’s switch to electric-powered vehicles (although the Volkswagen RX1e was in all intents and purposes a Polo, at least certainly in silhouette). However, the VW is back to mix it on the mixed surface racetracks in 2024, as six-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson switches back to a combustion-engined car in his chase for a seventh career crown

Running on sustainable fuel, the (deep breath) 2024 Volkswagen Polo KMS 601 RX is the result of a partnership between Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS) and Horse Powertrain, through Swedish company Aurobay. Supported by Volkswagen, Red Bull, and Bauhaus, a pair of Polos will compete in the inaugural ‘Battle of the Technologies’ campaign. Ole Christian Veiby will partner Kristoffersson in the second Polo RX. 

The cars have been developed in-house over the winter at the KMS Arvika workshop, and are described by team principal Tommy Kristoffersson as the best rallycross cars his crew has ever built. That looks to be true, in their only competitive outing to-date – at Tierp in the 2024 RallyX curtain-raiser – Kristoffersson and Veiby delivered a definitive one-two finish on both days. However, Kristoffersson is playing down their chances of repeating that feat at the highest level.

‘It will be tough to compete against the electric cars with our machines, but Aurobay is a dream partner for us, not only as a sponsor but also in technical terms,’ says Kristoffersson Jnr. ‘It will be fun to work with a long-term structure and plan accordingly. This is an exciting project that has a lot of typical KMS spirit about it.’

Veiby, who will be chasing his maiden World RX victory in 2024, echoes his teammate. ‘We are doing a turnaround and going in a different direction, which makes it difficult to predict how we will compare with the competition,’ he says. ‘There are many complicated elements that have to be tested on a new car, but it will be exciting to work with such a large and supportive partner,’ he continues.

Under the guiding hand of Kristoffersson Snr, KMS took the 2022 and 2023 World RX Teams’ trophies, and he is similarly upbeat about the new partnership, which he believes can help to send the outfit to the next level. ‘Aurobay is the best partner we can think of,’ says the multiple Swedish Rallycross Champion. ‘This is a win-win situation – we will benefit tremendously from each other. We both have a large staff of extremely talented engineers, meaning we will be able to exchange experiences and also personnel.

‘In the Volkswagen Group where I was trained, the motto has always been all motorsport should ultimately benefit the consumer. There is nothing that drives development forward as effectively as competition. With this project, we can take part in developing tomorrow’s engines,’ he states.

‘It’s inspiring to see the extreme desire and passion that exists within Horse Powertrain and Aurobay. Our ambition is a long-term collaboration for at least five years, which gives us the peace of mind to develop our cars with long foresight. We also hope to contribute to our partner becoming an obvious alternative as an engine manufacturer for many different car brands.

‘On the sporting side, “Battle of Technologies” is a fantastic concept that is unique to rallycross. It is an extremely big challenge, but an interesting one. We have a brand new car, a brand new partner and a very short timespan to match the electric cars. Although we have won in World RX for the last few years, we have to be humble and realise it will take a lot for us to fight for the title again, but having always aspired to be an attractive team for someone who is looking for a development partner, now we are there, it feels incredibly satisfying,’ Kristoffersson reports. 

Aurobay has developed, engineered and manufactured next-generation powertrain solutions for over 100 years, while Horse Powertrain Limited is a global leader in hybrid and combustion powertrain components and systems. With a 19,000-strong workforce across three continents, it partners with automotive OEMs worldwide to enable a faster transition to cleaner mobility.

‘Our vision for racing and performance is that we want to show the world our off-the-shelf two-litre engines can be tuned to much higher power levels to achieve great results in motorsport,’ explains Michael Fleiss, Aurobay Sweden CEO. ‘The FIA World Rallycross Championship is a fantastic platform for Horse Powertrain Ltd to show what ICE can deliver when powered by alternative fuels,’ says Matias Giannini, CEO of Horse Powertrain Limited. ‘We can provide powerful, lightweight and modular solutions for any occasion.’

The 2024 World RX campaign will get underway on KMS-Horse Powertrain home soil at Höljes’ legendary World RX of Sweden ‘Magic Weekend’ on 6-7 July. Kristoffersson and Veiby will be joined by Gustav Bergström and Sondre Evjen who will be driving a pair of electric Volkswagen RX1e rallycross machines.

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06 June 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Petter Solberg to drive Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 at Royal Rally of Scandinavia

The Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia, the third round of the 2024 European Rally Chamipionship, will have a true world-class driver ranks when it gets under starter’s orders in Karlstad, Sweden on 13 June. Petter Solberg has once again been coaxed out of ‘retirement’, and will be behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 rally car.

Important vehicle
The car was last seen in action at the 2019 Wales Rally GB, and is a hugely important vehicle when it comes to sixth-generation Polo rally machines. Wearing chassis number one, it is the first Polo GTI R5 ever made by Volkswagen Motorsport. Solberg said the car was ‘calling him’ to be taken back to rally stages, and that he also had some encouragement from his son Oliver Solberg, the 2019 FIA ERC1 Junior Rally Champion. Solberg, who won the 2003 World Rally Championship said: ‘It was calling me… every time I was in the workshop, the car was telling me to use it! You can’t ignore that.’

‘You know me, you know this family – rallying is everything to us,’ Solberg continued. Last year I took my mother for a ride in my Citroën C4 WRC on one stage of Royal Rally. That was nice, but Oliver was having all the fun and winning the rally. I want to have some of that fun!” Solberg exclaims. Going with the Norwegian and his Polo to Sweden is Monster Energy, Pirelli, and Castrol, and the car will be wearing a special new and distinctive livery.

Solberg is preparing for his ‘fun’ on a simulator, and will bring his Polo out of hibernation for pre-event testing. ‘We’re hoping to make a proper test with the Polo before the rally. I think the driving should be OK, it’s more the pacenotes which take some more practice, as I haven’t competed on a rally for almost six years. I drove a stage on this rally last year, but my mother was co-driving – and she was not reading the pacenotes for me!’ Solberg joked.

Solberg’s Polo GTI R5 last turned its wheels in anger at last year’s Royal Rally of Scandinavia in the hands of Solberg Jnr – who is also competing in the same Swedish round of the ERC as his father in a Skoda Fabia Rally2. ‘Basically, he won the event, we washed the car down and put it in the museum. Now we will take it out, dust it down and go for a test,’ reports Solberg, who first slipped behind the wheel of chassis number one six years ago.

‘I was helping to test the Polo GTI R5, working with F-X Demaison, then technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport, and then competing in Catalunya with it in 2018. I have some really happy memories with the car. When we were in Spain, we were setting fastest times in WRC2 and having a fantastic time. After that, Oliver has driven it sometimes; he grew up with the car, so it is a special one,’ Solberg explains.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally Spain: Solberg/Engan

‘One hell of a competition’
‘I don’t go to Karlstad trying to win, it’s for the show and to enjoy the driving. We know there are a lot of very fast drivers in ERC – it’s one hell of a competition. It will be tough. It’s five years since I did Rally GB (winning WRC2 and finishing 10th overall), nothing since then. The speed is incredible in the championship and you can’t just switch it back on,’ he continued. ‘This is the European Rally Championship with some big names and, don’t forget, a lot of those drivers have more experience of the stages than I do, having done the inaugural event last year.

‘It’s like this,’ laughed Petter. ‘I am Rocky coming back! I remember this film, it was a good fight, but Rocky didn’t win in the end… Seriously, this is to enjoy. The priority is to drive the car to give something to the rally fans coming from Norway and for those people watching the ERC from around the world. Last year we worked hard to help the organisers to build this event up and this is the same. Like always, we do everything we can to build rallying up some more,’ explained Solberg.

Jonas Andersson is on co-driving duties, and Solberg is revved up for the whole experience. ‘I am really looking forward to this, being back in the car is something special. I’m so excited. The comeback is on!’ Asked whether he can win, Solberg said coyly, ‘You know what it’s like when the helmet is coming on the head… I will say all of these things about the tough competition, but when the lights go out at the start of the stage – we all have one aim!’

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

Solberg’s PSRX World Rallycross Polo teammate Johan Kristoffersson will also be reunited with a Polo GTI R5 for the Royal Rally event, after being asked by Kristoffersson Motorsport sponsors Bauhaus. The six-time World Rallycross champion will compete with his family team’s Polo, with his former co- driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen. ‘I haven’t driven a gravel rally in the forest for five years, so expectations are low,’ Kristoffersson said. ‘It would have been nice to prepare properly, but there’s no time, so we’ll take it as it comes. It’s still fun to be the underdog for a change.’

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18 May 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo named the second most popular car in the UK during April 2024

The Volkswagen Polo has been a favoured choice among UK drivers for decades, but has slipped out of the most popular cars chart in recent times. However, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the Polo was the second most popular car in April 2024, with 3,413 registered. The Ford Puma small SUV took the top spot, with 4,339 examples finding new homes. The Polo was some 403 registrations ahead of the third-placed Audi A3 with its total of 3,010.

Strong showing
The Polo was the most popular Volkswagen in the SMMT chart, but elsewhere in the top 10 list, other VW models gave a strong showing. The Golf was in fifth place (2,361 registrations), the T-Roc seventh (2,162 registrations), while the Tiguan rounded out the chart in tenth place (2,004 registrations). Overall, 134,274 new cars were registered in the UK during April 2024, a one per cent increase over the same month last year.

The UK’s top 10 most popular new cars during April 2024 and the year-to-date (registration figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Ford Puma: 4,339 (19,393, 1st)
2 Volkswagen Polo: 3,413
3 Audi A3: 3,010 (13,503, 4th)
4 Nissan Qashqai: 2,495 (17.050, 2nd)
5 Volkswagen Golf: 2,361 (12,651, 6th)
6 Kia Sportage: 2,192 (15,824, 3rd)
7 Volkswagen T-Roc: 2,162 (11,096, 9th)
8 MG HS: 2,073 (12,101, 8th)
9 Volvo XC40: 2,069
10 Volkswagen Tiguan: 2,004

(The 2024 year-to-date top 10 most popular cars absent from April’s registration figures were the fifth-placed Nissan Juke, the seventh-placed BMW 1 Series, and the tenth-placed Mini with 13,070, 12,210, and 11,067 units recorded respectively.)

Eighth most popular UK used car
The SMMT has also named the Polo as one of the UK’s most popular used cars during Q1 2024. The Polo is the eighth most popular UK used car with 39,193 examples finding new owners during the first three months of 2024. Superminis were again the most popular vehicle type, with 640,711 changing hands – a 7.2 per cent increase over the same period in 2023. Overall, the UK used car market has grown 6.5 per cent to almost 2 million units in Q1 2024 – the fifth quarter of successive growth. This marks the best start to a year since 2019 as the second-hand market hits a five-year high. The top three used car colours were black, grey and blue.

It was a similar story in South Africa. The Citizen reports the sixth-generation (current) Polo was the country’s third most popular used car in April according to Auto Trader sales data. The Polo Vivo, based on the fifth-generation Polo sold globally from 2009-2017, takes fourth place.

In South Africa’s new car market, Business Tech states that, according to NAAMSA figures, the Polo Vivo was the third most popular model during April 2024, with 1,766 registrations. The sixth-generation Polo was in 11th place, with 822 units. Volkswagen Group South Africa was the third most popular brand, with 4,758 cars finding new homes, behind Suzuki (4,891) and Toyota (8,541). The Polo and Polo Vivo are manufactured at Volkswagen Group South Africa’s Kariega plant, situated around 465 miles east of Cape Town and 620 miles south of Johannesburg.

Most popular model in Brazil
Further afield, the Volkswagen Polo sits just behind the Fiat Strada pick-up in Brazil in terms of sales figures for the first half of May. The Polo trumps its Italian challenger overall in the year-to-date figures, though, with 44,392 examples going to new homes compared to the Fiat’s 43,636, making the Polo the most popular new car in the country by a whisker.

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06 March 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Astron Energy named as title sponsor of the 2024 Volkswagen Polo Cup

A springboard for young racing driver talent in South Africa, the Volkswagen Polo Cup has a new sponsor for 2024. Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa is partnering with Astron Energy who becomes the title sponsor for the upcoming season. The 2024 Astron Energy Polo Cup runs as part of the South African National Championship Extreme Festival over seven rounds across the country, and marks the one-make racing series’ 28th year of competition.

Excellent platform
With a network of 850 service stations being rebranded over the next four years, Astron Energy is a leading supplier of petroleum products in South Africa. The field of Polo GTI and Polo GTC SupaCup racing cars will use the company’s Quartech fuel, which has claimed friction reduction properties to help deliver improved protection against damage from combustion. Astron Energy sees the young racing drivers’ championship as an excellent platform to promote its reimagined fuel brand.

‘We are delighted to confirm our partnership with Volkswagen Motorsport as the title sponsor for the 2024 Astron Energy Polo Cup,’ said Astron Energy head of marketing, Thayuri Moodley. ‘The MSA South African National Championship Polo Cup has discovered some of South Africa’s most exciting racing talents over the years, with past champions Sheldon and Kelvin van der Linde, Jordan Pepper, and Leyton Fourie among others, going on to great things in local and international motorsport. Astron Energy looks forward to being an integral part of the next chapter of the thrilling Polo Cup story,’ continues Moodley.

‘Great impetus’
‘As Volkswagen Motorsport, we are delighted to welcome Astron Energy aboard as our Polo Cup title sponsor from 2024,’ said Head of Volkswagen Driving Experience, Mike Rowe. ‘Not only will Astron Energy bring great impetus to the Volkswagen Polo Cup, but we look forward to proving Astron Energy’s new premium additive Quartech Petrol in our field of Polo GTI Cup racing cars in action on track,’ Rowe continues.

The series gets underway on 15 March at Killarney in Cape Town, and the winner of the 2024 Astron Energy Polo Cup champion will earn a drive in a Polo GTC SupaCup racer in the 2025 GTC SupaCup championship.

Alongside the series production-based Polo GTI Cup racers, the Polo GTC SupaCup competes in the exclusive-to-South Africa GTC (Global Touring Car) Championship in the SupaCup class. Devoted to more production-biased machines, as opposed to the ‘silhouette’-type racers of the top-level GTC class – in which Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa fields a Golf 8 GTI GTC – the Polo GTC SupaCup still has almost 300bhp, and wears a square-arched body kit, echoing that of the Polo GTI R5 rally car.

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