Berlin - Volkswagen has pulled the covers off its new Polo hatchback and while the exterior design plays it safe in a way we’ve by now come to expect from the German carmaker, it’s actually a totally new product. The newcomer graduates onto the MQB modular platform, which also underpins the latest Golf and Passat, while also inheriting plenty of high-tech features from its larger siblings.
South Africans won’t have a long wait as the new Polo is due to go on sale here early in 2018. As with the current model, which is the country’s second best selling passenger car, losing only to its Vivo-badged predecessor, the all-new model will be built in Uitenhage, presumably also for export markets.
This sixth-generation Polo is 81mm longer and 69mm wider than its predecessor, but packaging is also much improved to the point where VW can claim to have significantly increased the amount of interior space. In fact, the Polo now has a longer wheelbase than the fourth-generation Golf. The boot is also considerably bigger, with capacity increasing from 280 to 351 litres.
The engine range in Europe includes a normally aspirated 1-litre petrol unit, offered with 48kW and 55kW outputs, a 1.0 TSI turbopetrol in 70kW and 85kW guises and a 110kW 1.5-litre TSI with cylinder deactivation. Diesel fans can opt for a 1.6-litre TDI with either 59kW or 70kW.
Higher output engines are available with a choice between six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearboxes while humbler Polos come with a five-speed manual only.
The South African engine range has yet to be confirmed, but it’s unlikely that we’ll get the normally aspirated 1-litre, while the mainstay of the range will almost certainly be the 1.0 TSI.
GTI revealed with 2-litre engine
And that’s not all folks! VW has also revealed the GTI version of the new Polo and it comes with a 147kW version of the familiar 2-litre TSI turbopetrol that will be familiar to Golf GTI owners. This replaces the 141kW 1.8 TSI that powered its predecessor.
As before the flagship gets a GTI-specific styling kit, which includes 17-inch alloys, a red-striped honeycomb grille, large rear spoiler, diffuser and twin tail pipes. LED headlights are optional.
Stiffer sport suspension is standard, while buyers can opt for the Sport Select chassis featuring adaptive dampers.
As with the facelifted Golf 7, the new Polo has a highly digitised cabin. Not only will it be offered with a digital instrument cluster but it actually gets a brand new version of VW's Active Info Display, which is said to be clearer and easier to operate. This Polo will also offer the latest generation of touch-screen infotainment systems, ranging in size from 16.5cm to 20.3cm.
The new model also offers wireless smartphone charging and there’s a wide range of driver assistance systems on offer including the latest-generation active cruise control, now featuring a Stop & Go traffic function, as well as Rear Traffic Alert and an improved semi-automated Park Assist system.
What’s more, the Front Assist area monitoring system with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring is standard across the range, in Europe at least.
South African pricing and specs will be divulged closer to launch.