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01 May 2023 ~ 0 Comments

Petter Solberg reunited with Polo R WRX Supercar at 2023 Simola Hillclimb

The fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo enjoyed huge success in motorsport, not only winning the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) four consecutive times from 2013-2016, but also taking the spoils in the frenetic and punishing World Rallycross series, too.

Driven by Johan Kristoffersson and three-time FIA world champion and WRC legend Petter Solberg among others, it’s been five years since the Polo graced the top level of rallycross with Solberg behind the wheel. But on the weekend of 4-7 May, the Norwegian driver and hillclimb star will be reunited with the 570bhp Polo R WRX at the 2023 Simola Hillclimb in South Africa.

Most successful modern rallycross car
Plucked from his retirement and driving for Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa, Solberg will be piloting the fire-spitting machine which Kristoffersson drove to victory in 2017. With a pair of drivers’ titles and two team FIA World Championship wins, the Polo R WRX Supercar could just be the most successful race car of the modern rallycross era.

Developed from the Polo R WRC rally car but more of a ‘silhouette’ racer, the Polo R WRX Supercar’s standout features include engine cooling with an emphasis on aerodynamics, making it far more efficient. The rear wing of the Polo R WRX creates more downforce and allows a wide range of set-up options. Powered by a four-cylinder engine with a massive 570bhp (419kW), peak torque of 650Nm (479lb ft) is developed at 5,000rpm. Power is put down using a six-speed sequential racing gearbox, and it takes just 1.9 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint.

2018 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo R

‘Polo R WRX Supercar from the museum’
‘The guys at Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa are so professional,’ said an excited Solberg. ‘They agreed for me to come and drive at the Simola Hillclimb event, and then agreed to bring the Polo R WRX Supercar from the museum in Wolfsburg. This is the proper way of doing things – I like it!’ he continues.

‘Can I win? Let’s see. They told me the winner’s average speed last year was 200km/h (124mph) – my car will only do 200km/h! You know me, I will try. We will push and see what is possible. One thing is certain, it’s going to be fantastic to be back with this car again. I have such good memories of the Polo R WRX Supercar. We ran these cars for me and Johan, with our family team (PSRX Volkswagen Sweden) winning all the titles through 2017 and 2018. Good times,” reflects Solberg.

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

‘We are very excited to announce that Petter Solberg will be making his way to South Africa to race in the Polo R WRX Supercar,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa. ‘Solberg’s partnership with VW goes back to 2017 when he set up PSRX Volkswagen Sweden with factory works support from Volkswagen Motorsport and we are thrilled to have brought Petter back to race for us in South Africa,’ Rowe continues.

Volkswagen Polo SupaCup
Alongside Solberg, seasoned racer Graeme Nathan will also be representing Volkswagen in a Polo SupaCup car, a 308bhp racer built specifically for South Africa’s GTC SupaCup support series. The 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘EA888’ four-cylinder engine has 420Nm of torque, and as Nathan and the SupaCup Polo came second in the Class B2 finals in one of the closest margins – 0.016 seconds – in the history of the Simola Hillclimb in 2022, he will certainly be up for the fight in 2023.

Joining Nathan’s and Solberg’s Polos will be an eighth-generation Golf R, driven by Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa drivers Jonathan Mogotsi and Daniel Rowe. Solberg’s rallycross-driving brother Henning will also compete on the 1.18-mile (1.9-kilometre) hill in Knysna, Western Cape.

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06 April 2023 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen South Africa refreshes Polo Vivo GT for 2023

The letters ‘GT’ have been associated with the Volkswagen Polo since 1979, appearing on sports models such as the original Polo GT, the Polo GT G40 of the 1980s, the Polo GT hatchback and coupé of the 1990s, various GT models in the early 2000s, and the Polo BlueGT in the 2010s. In South Africa, they adorn the model which sits atop the Polo Vivo family, and for 2023, the Polo Vivo GT gets a tidy up.

Sports-orientated styling
The second generation of Volkswagen South Africa’s entry level model, the Polo Vivo, launched in 2018, bringing with it the 109bhp/81kW Polo Vivo GT. A not-quite-GTI model, focused on more sports-orientated styling than performance, the 2023 VW Polo Vivo GT shares its 1.0 TSI engine with the car launched five years ago, but the exterior and interior have been given a few tweaks.

Externally, the freshened up car features silver mirror caps – replacing the colour-coded items of before – more subtle front door and tailgate graphics, a silver ‘GT’ front grille badge and the new ‘flatter’ Volkswagen roundel, first introduced in 2019. The black rear hatch spoiler and 17-inch ‘Mirabeau’ alloy wheels are the same as the previous car, but a new Wild Cherry Red Metallic paint shade ensures the 2023 Polo Vivo GT stands out.

Inside, silver inserts adorn the top areas of the dashboard, while the cloth seat insert stitching colour is now red rather than blue. The grey gear lever and handbrake cover stitching now match the silver exterior accents. ‘GT’-embroided floor mats complete the interior makeover. Other standard equipment of the flagship Polo Vivo model includes anthracite interior headlining, cruise control, ‘Lights and Vision’ package, as well as 15mm lowered suspension.

The Recommended Retail Price (VAT and emissions tax included) for the 2023 Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT is R332,800. A three-year/120,000km warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty is standard, with a Volkswagen EasyDrive Maintenance Plan and EasyDrive Service Plan available as options. Service intervals are 15,000 km.

Most popular car in South Africa
Since the introduction of the second generation Polo Vivo, itself based on the fifth-generation Polo built from 2009-2017, almost 120,000 units have rolled off the Kariega production lines. The Polo Vivo GT first appeared in 2011 based on the first-generation Polo Vivo, which was originally a facelifted fourth-generation Polo, built from 2005-2009. First introduced in 2010, and very often South Africa’s most popular car, the Polo Vivo nameplate has since cumulatively recorded 313,620 registrations.

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18 March 2023 ~ 1 Comment

2023 Volkswagen ID 2all concept: could it be an electric Polo?

Volkswagen has announced details of its latest ID-badged electric car, and the ID 2all concept points to not only a potential reset of VW’s EV recipe, but also the brand itself. PoloDriver.com editor Rich Gooding gets a bit hot under the collar…

On the evening of 15 March 2023, Volkswagen live-streamed a world premiere of a new car. The reveal was trailed beforehand to be the latest member of its ID electric car family, and VW stayed true to its promise, pulling the covers off a brand-new concept version of its small EV, the ID 2.

However, I, like most, was expecting a mini-SUV, as hinted at by the previous ID Life concept car of 2021. What was revealed, though, was much more ‘traditional’. Much more ‘typical Volkswagen’. In short, the ID 2all’s arrival is a very pleasant surprise.

The live reveal focused on Volkswagen’s ‘reinvention’ to become more of a ‘love brand’ (ick) again, leaning heavily on its more traditional values of emotion and ‘top quality’. These have arguably been absent from the first batch of ID models and the ID 2all offers the chance of a reset. New focuses on brand, customers, and products were prominent messages.

‘We are transforming Volkswagen rapidly and fundamentally – with the clear objective of making Volkswagen a genuine Love Brand. The ID 2all shows where we want to take the brand: close to the customer, top technologies and a fantastic design. We are implementing transformation at a pace to bring electric mobility to the masses’
Thomas Schäfer, CEO, Volkswagen Passenger Cars

As if to highlight this, VW’s history was showcased with a parade of past models – including the stunning 1975 Bahama Blue Polo restored by Volkswagen Classic for the 2015 Techno Classica Essen show which celebrated 40 years of the Polo nameplate – the ‘back to its roots’ message was loud and clear. And in my opinion, that’s no bad thing.

Nostalgic brouhaha
Once all the nostalgic brouhaha was out of the way, the lights dimmed, the music volume was raised and the ID 2all appeared from the wings of the Hamburg stage. And I was instantly transfixed. Here was no mini-SUV; here was a car which referenced VW styling cues from the past – parallel Golf 4 rear bumper and door shut lines in particular – and had the appearance, and dimensions of a Polo. Which got me excited.

While new VW Passenger Cars CEO Thomas Schäfer hasn’t confirmed plans to ditch the Polo nameplate with the demise of internal combustion-engined cars in the coming years, there has been no confirmation it will stay either. When the lights went up on the ID 2all, there looked to be hope.

Apparently designed and built in around six weeks by new Volkswagen Passenger Cars head of design designer Andreas Mindt and his team, the car was ordered by management – including Schäfer – when the ID Life idea was halted. Some have commented that the ID 2all looks like it was an old concept dusted off and given a sprinkle of contemporary style, but I disagree.

Yes, there are nods to VWs past – and the front even looks similar to a ‘9N3’ Polo BlueMotion with its faired-in grille – but I think it’s a neat design, helped by the way the bright metallic blue paint finish – similar to Volkswagen’s Rising Blue shade – popped under the lights at the Hamburg reveal. Indeed, it was the paint finish that immediately reminded me of the 2001 Polo S1600 rally car prototype when I first saw the ID 2all from the rear. The car is also said to preview a new Volkswagen design language.

Other design highlights include the crease which runs from the front wheel arch, through the – standard production – door handle and rises sharply, meeting the door rear window corner. The lights in the full-width rear bar have echoes of Range Rover Evoque in their 3D effect, while the 20-inch wheels recall the 17-inch ‘Santa Monica’ rims which were an option on some models of the fourth-generation Golf. As it stands, the ID 2all is said to reflect around 80 per cent of the production car.

Inside, there’s a more geometric dashboard than the current family of ID models. Textured cloth material features on the dash top itself, and on the door cards, just like Volkswagens of old. In front of the driver is a 10.9-inch colour display, the infotainment screen in the centre two inches larger in size. Volkswagen says that the system has a ‘new menu structure’ – partly controlled by a rotary dial in the floating centre console – aiming to answer criticisms relating to the current family of ID cars.

Interestingly, the interior of the reveal concept car looked to use a production Polo 6 interior. YouTube content creator Nobby On Cars stated that it was disclosed that the show car’s interior isn’t the ‘finished product’. The car in the press images reveals the concept’s interior proper, which may suggest there may be more than one prototype in existence…

One neat interior feature of the press image car is a function which allows the instrument panel to display information in the style of a classic Beetle, or a late Mk 1 Golf-era water-cooled VW. In fact, the Beetle, Golf and Polo were all specifically mentioned at the reveal event relating to the ID 2all design, Mindt stating that, ‘We are transferring the DNA of our icons into the future. The ID 2all is therefore also an homage to the Beetle, Golf and Polo.’

MEB Entry platform
Of those three cars, only the Golf has been powered by an electric powertrain in the past, but being an ID, the 2all is of course, all-electric, too. Underpinned by a new ‘Entry’ version of VW’s all-conquering ‘MEB’ EV platform, the difference here is that the ID 2all is the first front-wheel drive electric VW. This is, in part, to save costs and bring the production ID 2 in under 25,000 euros – ‘Volkswagen’ does mean ‘people’s car’ after all, and the ‘#VWforthepeople’ hashtag had Twitter ablaze – but it also frees up interior space.

In yet another Polo correlation, the 4,050mm length of the ID 2all is just 3mm shorter than the current Polo (but only 61mm wide and 71mm taller). Volkswagen points to the iD 2all’s interior having Golf-rivalling space, thanks to the 2,600mm wheelbase which is 48mm longer than the current Polo’s. The ID 2all can carry 490 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, 1,330 litres when they are folded.

Power from the single electric motor is a Polo GTI-rivalling 223bhp, while the electric range is projected to be 280 miles (450km) on a single charge. The car is expected to be available with two batteries of around 40 and 56kWh, the former using cheaper lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) technology. The larger unit is expected to stick with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) tech, as shared with other VW IDs. The fast 125kW DC charging speed capability means a 10-80 per cent top up in around 20 minutes for the larger battery. Performance is similar to the current ‘AW’ Polo GTI; 0-62mph takes under seven seconds. Top speed is 99mph.

While it’s not been confirmed that the ID 2all will adopt a name that might reference the Polo, with persistent rumours of the Polo’s imminent demise – let’s not forget that Ford has called time on the Fiesta, after all – this looks to be the perfect EV-era interpretation of my favourite small car. Some reports point to the even smaller and yet-to-be-unveiled ID 1 being christened ‘ID Polo’, others that although the ID 2all probably won’t be an electric Polo, the decision hasn’t totally been ruled out…

Whatever, the arrival of the ID 2all brings with it lots of unresolved questions. But it heralds lots of promise, too. Promise that as the Polo approaches its 50th birthday – coincidentally in 2025, the same year as the production ID 2’s slated launch – it may live on into its sixth decade after all. To me, there seems little point in ditching well-known nameplates, be they Volkswagens or from any other brand. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see what shape – and what name – the production ID 2 takes when it materialises, but I, for one, will have my fingers crossed.

Schäfer said at the ID 2all world premiere that when asked, his team said that they wanted to make the brand ‘shine again’. ID Polo or not, making a small EV which incorporates as many features from the ID 2all concept will, for me, do just that.

2023 Volkswagen ID 2all / 2023 Volkswagen Polo

Length: 4,050mm / 4,053mm
Width: 1,812mm / 1,751mm (excluding door mirrors)
Height: 1,530mm 1,459mm
Wheelbase: 2,660mm / 2,552mm
Luggage volume: 490-1,330 litres / 351-1,125 litres
Power: 223bhp / 204bhp (Polo GTI)
Drive: front-wheel drive / front-wheel drive
Wheels and tyres: 225/40 R20 / 215/45 R17 (Polo GTI)

UPDATE, 8 September 2023: It would appear that the production version of the ID 2 will not take the Polo name, and the Golf, Tiguan and GTI names are the only ‘iconic’ badges that would likely star in a future all-electric Volkswagen model family, says this new article from Autocar.

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03 March 2023 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen South Africa builds 100,000th sixth-generation Polo for the local market

The 100,000th sixth-generation Polo for the South African market rolled off Volkswagen South Africa’s Kariega production line on 1 March, during the night shift. The plant has been building the current ‘AW’ model since January 2018, with production of the latest refreshed version beginning in August 2021.

Overall, of the 100,000-vehicle total, 80,644 cars were pre-facelift models, the remaining 19,356 being refreshed versions. Figures released by Volkswagen South Africa from the most recent milestone report that the most popular colour for the local market Polo is Pure White with 36,965 cars made in that shade. Second is Reflex Silver (17,607 units made), followed by Limestone Grey Metallic (10,350 units built).

The latest milestone is one of several Volkswagen South Africa has celebrated in the past few months. In May 2022, the one millionth Polo was made for export (see figures below), and the 500,000th global market ‘AW’ current generation Polo was built two months later. Destined for Germany, the 100,000th global market refreshed ‘AW’ Polo – a Pure White GTI – rolled out of Kariega in August 2022. The two-millionth unit of the Polo and Polo Vivo – a South African entry level model based on the global market fifth-generation Polo originally manufactured from 2009-2017 – was completed on 6 December 2022. The 100,000th second generation Polo Vivo was produced in January 2022.

In addition to local market Polos and Polo Vivos, Volkswagen South Africa builds the Polo for all right-hand drive markets, as well as selected left-hand drive territories. The Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) factory is also the sole manufacturing plant for the current ‘AW’ Polo GTI. The plant first started building Polos in 1996, with the first exports leaving the factory in 2002 for Japan. Polos are currently exported to over 38 countries. In May Volkswagen South Africa employed 3,619 people, including 2,233 production employees, with the capacity to build 680 vehicles per day.

‘Though the majority of our Polos are built for export markets, we are incredibly proud of how popular this vehicle is among South African customers,’ said Ulrich Schwabe, production director, Volkswagen South Africa (pictured above with sales and marketing director Thomas Milz). ‘This includes our employees, who build these high quality cars with pride, and whose dedication and love for our vehicles has made this milestone possible.’

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25 February 2023 ~ 1 Comment

Car & Classic auction watch: 2012 Volkswagen Polo GTI

This one probably falls more under the ‘car’ rather than the ‘classic’ of the listing website’s title, but whatever, it looks very appealing to this author’s eyes. Behold the clean-lined – and red – majesty of this 2012 Polo GTI, freshly imported from Japan.

The fifth-generation Polo GTI (not the actual fifth-generation of Polo GTI) was unveiled in May 2010, 14 months after the debut of the ‘regular’ model. Following the 148bhp model of the same name based on the fourth generation ‘9N3’ Polo, the newcomer – ‘6R’ in Polo geek speak – packed a 178bhp punch courtesy of a turbo and supercharged engine.

The 1.4-litre ‘twincharger’ unit was around 400cc down on the engine of its predecessor, which appeared in all manner of Volkswagens, Audis, SEATs and Skodas. Despite being smaller in size than the one before, the new four-cylinder unit was advanced in terms of technology, and the new car scampered to 62mph from rest in 6.9 seconds, 1.3 seconds faster than its forebear. The 6R GTI was lighter, too; the three-door GTI’s 1269kg a smidge less than the 9N3 GTI’s 1283kg.

Exclusively DSG
One important difference between old and new was the fact that the 6R GTI was exclusively available with Volkswagen’s much-praised DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Both a blessing and a curse, its high-tech appeal won over some drivers, while others bemoaned the lack of a manual option. With small paddles behind the steering wheel, and a ‘Sport’ mode in the gearbox itself, Volkswagen did compensate for keener drivers, but for some, it wasn’t enough. However, it did make the car an arguably easier daily driver for those scooting about the city.

For PoloDriver.com, the 6R Polo GTI’s crowning glory was always its looks. Taking cues from the popular and acclaimed Mk 5 Golf GTI, the contemporary hot Polo featured 17-inch ‘Monza’ (or ‘Detroit’, depending on the market) alloy wheels, new front and rear bumpers, a red-trimmed and honeycomb mesh-filled front grille, side skirt trims, a rear spoiler, and twin exhaust pipes. Inside, there was ‘Jacara’ (or ‘Jacky’) tartan-trimmed sports seats, black headlining, and a squared-off and leather-trimmed steering wheel with red stitching and a ‘GTI’ badge. In terms of looking the business, it was job done. Mature and subtle it predictably was, but it was none the worse for it.

A facelift – the car renamed the ‘6C’ – in December 2014 dispensed with the twincharger engine, replacing it with a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine with 189bhp, and also brought sharper looks inside and out. But the 6R Polo GTI appeals because of its subtler appearance, the Golf GTI-aping alloy wheels and the certain charm of the earlier interior.

Still plentiful (ish) in the UK – comparatively, the GTI has never been a strong-selling Polo – a small but increasing number of right-hand drive cars are starting to appear on UK soil from Japan. One such car is the car pictured here, currently up for auction on the Car & Classic website. Resplendent in its Flash Red paintwork, the 2012 car has covered just 45,300 miles from new, and looks superb. There is a little wear and collapse on one of the driver’s seat bolsters, but that’s the only discernible mark that can be seen after 11 years of use. Due to the lack of salt on the roads in Japan, the underside looks nice and clean and the car certainly seems to have been looked after well.

Notable features
Another ex-Japanese car, this time a Candy White example with 54,000 miles, is for sale here, and like the Car & Classic GTI, has a couple of notable features over UK models. While the DSG automatic box is shared with Uk and European markets, Japanese cars appear to get climate control as standard (a £375 option in the UK), as well as a touchscreen infotainment system – a Grundig unit in the Car & Classic GTI’s case – the cheapest of which in the UK was the £300 RCD 510 system (another £420 bought the RNS 315 system with navigation). Other bonuses of these cars are the standard-fit bi-xenon headlamps and LED daytime-running lights, a £765 UK option.

While we can’t detect anything different with either car’s engine, it’s worth noting that 6R Polo GTIs in China came with a 1.4 TSI engine with 130bhp, not the full-fat 178bhp. A quick online check reveals that Japanese cars appear to share the higher output of their European cousins. One question we do have though, is why the sudden rash of imports; a handful of right-hand drive Cross Polos have also recently landed on UK shores.

A car which was transformatively much better than the car which preceded it – and the 6C is sharper still – the 6R Polo GTI is an evergreen PoloDriver.com favourite. We’d have very little hesitation in investigating the Car & Classic car, but do check is all well mechanically, as the twincharged engines can have oil use issues. Once that is done, though, just drive and enjoy, revelling in the high quality fifth-generation Polo build. If the Car & Classic GTI goes for under £8,000, then someone will get a bargain. The Car & Classic 2012 Polo GTI auction ends at 20:15 on Monday 27 February.

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