Berlin – While South Africans were celebrating Youth Day on Friday, Volkswagen revealed the all-new Polo hatchback at a glitzy event in Berlin and to follow up on our initial coverage, let's take a closer look at what this important new model is all about.

1. It’s bigger and a lot more practical

Don’t be fooled by its relatively conservative design, this is an all-new vehicle built on a more compact version of VW’s MQB platform that also underpins the Golf, Tiguan and Passat.

That said, the Polo is hardly small anymore. 

Measuring 4053mm, it is 81mm longer than its predecessor (although still 205mm shorter than a Golf), but the wheelbase has increased by 94mm to 2564mm, resulting in shorter front and rear overhangs and, more importantly, increased cabin space. In fact, between the wheels the new Polo is a good 53mm longer than the fourth-generation Golf. Having gained a significant 69mm in width over its predecessor, the new Polo is also 16mm wider than the Golf 4.

Clever packaging also results in more boot space, with the volume having grown from 280 litres (previous Polo) to 351 litres.

2. New generation digital instrument cluster

Not only will you be able to order a Polo with a digital instrument cluster for the first time, but this also happens to be a new generation of the brand’s Active Info Display.

According to VW, the new system and its graphics are clearer and easier to use, while a single button on the steering wheel will allow drivers to switch between the 'basic views' menus.

The Polo will also offer a wide range of touchscreen infotainment systems, ranging in size from 16.5cm to 20.3cm, all glass encased and said to be every bit as “sophisticated” as high-end smartphones. Furthermore, buyers will be able to decorate the cabin with trim strips in a wide variety of colours.

3. And many more high-tech gadgets

As with many of the aforementioned trimmings, it remains to be seen exactly which features will be on the South African menu, but European buyers are able to opt for many new features and gadgets.

These include:

- Wireless charging for smartphones

- Adaptive dampers

- Adaptive Cruise Control (now up to 210km/h and with Stop & Go)

- Full-LED headlights and taillights

- ‘Air Care’ Climatronic aircon with air quality sensor and allergen filter

- Blind Spot Detection, now with Rear Traffic Alert

- Park Assist with added 'manoeuvring function' for improved ding-avoidance

- Keyless access and start

- Front Assist area monitoring (standard). This includes City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring

4. Smaller TSI engine packs bigger punch

As with the gizmos, Volkswagen South Africa is remaining tight-lipped about the local engine line-up, but in the likely event that it mirrors European developments, we will see the 1.2-litre TSI turbopetrol replaced by the 1-litre TSI that previously powered the Bluemotion model.

This unit is available in two states of tune – 70kW and 85kW – with torque outputs as yet unconfirmed.

The European range also inherits a new 1.5-litre TSI turbopetrol from the Golf. This motor features cylinder deactivation and is rated at 110kW.

On the diesel front, VW is offering a 1.6 TDI in 59kW and 70kW guises.

Below is a full list of the European engine and gearbox range:

Engine Turbo Power Gearbox
1.0 MPI manual No 48kW 5-speed manual
1.0 MPI manual No 55kW 5-speed manual
1.0 TSI manual Yes 70kW 5-speed manual
1.0 TSI DSG Yes 70kW 7-speed DSG
1.0 TSI manual Yes 85kW 6-speed manual
1.0 TSI DSG Yes 85kW 7-speed DSG
1.5 TSI manual Yes 110kW 6-speed manual
1.5 TSI DSG Yes 110kW 7-speed DSG
2.0 TSI (GTI) manual Yes 147kW 6-speed manual
2.0 TSI (GTI) DSG Yes 147kW 7-speed DSG
1.6 TDI manual Yes 59kW 5-speed manual
1.6 TDI manual Yes 70kW 5-speed manual
1.6 TDI DSG Yes 70kW 7-speed DSG

5. But no replacement for displacement in the GTI’s case

As you’d have seen above, the new Polo GTI has evolved into a true Golf GTI mini-me, even inheriting a 2-litre TSI engine, which, as per the fifth-generation Golf, pushes 147kW. As before, GTI fans can choose between a manual and DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

The Polo GTI will also offer a sophisticated new Sport Select chassis option with adaptive dampers.

The GTI rides on 17-inch alloys, but buyers can opt for 18-inch rims, and as you’d expect, the performance flagship gets its own styling pack, which includes a unique front bumper, honeycomb grille with red stripe, side sill extensions, red brake calipers, large roof spoiler, diffuser and dual tail pipes.

Inside you’ll find tartan-covered sport seats, red-stitched, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and an ambient lighting system.

6. As before, they’ll build it in South Africa

The all-new Polo is set to be launched in South Africa early in 2018. As with the current model, it will be built at VWSA’s Uitenhage plant for both local consumption and for export, with local content even higher than the current 72 percent.

The company has in recent times invested over R4.5-billion in this factory. Earlier, VWSA’s Managing Director Thomas Schaefer said that although SA is not a logical production location, given that only 0.6% of the world's vehicle production is situated here, on-going investments make sense due to the potential of Africa as a future market for exports as well as the security that the APDP provides for investors.

IOL Motoring

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