- Published: Friday, 16 June 2017 22:53
The new Volkswagen Polo borrows heavily from the Golf to maximise its appeal
THE COVERS HAVE been lifted off a new Volkswagen Polo, and they reveal an upsized approach to its maker’s assault on the compact hatch market.
The sixth-generation VW Polo is bigger than its predecessor in all dimensions. At 4,503mm, the length is up 81mm and the width is now 1,751mm without wing mirrors, making it 69mm wider than before.
But it’s the wheelbase that has had a proper stretch, gaining 94mm to 2,564mm. VW points out that this gives it more metal between the axles than a Golf of 20 years ago.
And while the previous Polo was already slightly longer than the current Honda Jazz, it had a shorter wheelbase. That’s been addressed, with the new Polo’s wheelbase 34mm longer than its Japanese rival’s.
In spite of a slight reduction in height, the new Polo offers more headroom than before, front and rear. Boot space has grown significantly, too, with the new model gaining 71 litres of luggage capacity to 351 litres.
“No other car offers so much space for its size,” said Herbert Diess, the Volkswagen brand’s chairman, in a statement accompanying the car’s unveiling. “This makes our Polo the number one compact, and it will remain number one." It's an important car for VW; 16 million units of the first-five generations were sold.
Accounting for the Polo's growth spurt is the fact that it's now based on VW’s excellent Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB in German) platform, which supports the Golf and even the Passat, a much larger car.
It should benefit from the well-resolved ride quality and fluid handling that the MQB architecture has given other cars in the VW family.
The cabin has been completely revamped with a new dashboard designed for the digital age, says VW. It offers screen sizes ranging from 6.0 to 8.5 inches, and uses high-res glass displays that are mounted as high up as possible.
The Polo is also the first VW to get the carmaker’s new-generation Active Info Display system of virtual instruments and gauges.
VW says the graphics are clearer than ever, while the system is easier to use than before.
The compact car also gains a number of features more commonly seen in larger, more expensive cars. Autonomous emergency braking is standard in all Polos (at least in Europe), for example, along with a pedestrian monitoring system.
Active cruise control is an option (with automatic stop-and-go on DSG-equipped models), as is park assist.
A Singapore Motor Show 2018 debut is the earliest likely opportunity to see the new Volkswagen Polo here.
At home, however, VW has launched the car with six petrol options, two diesels and even a natural gas engine.
The most likely candidate for Singapore is a 1.0-litre TSI with 95 horsepower.
That is the least powerful version available with an automatic (in the form of VW’s twin-clutch, seven-speed DSG), and it would serve as a direct replacement for the existing 90hp 1.2 TSI model.
Less humble but more intriguing is the 2.0-litre, 200hp Polo GTI (below) that serves as the top of the range model.
Whether that will be introduced here is anyone’s guess. Currently, the VW Polo has two basic jobs in Singapore. First, it serves as a way to get into a Volkswagen here for less than $100,000 with COE, given its listed price of $96,900.
The second thing the Polo does for VW is make the most basic Golf look cheap; for just $6,000 more, it offers something larger, more practical, more comfy and more powerful.
Which version of the new Polo makes it to Singapore will ultimately depend on what job Volkswagen wants it to perform here.