A hot Polo R model will follow in the wake of VW’s decision to enter the WRC in 2013
13 May 2011

Volkswagen is lining up a hardcore performance version of its Polo to back up its assault on the World Rally Championship, details of which were officially confirmed last week.

The German manufacturer has previously shied away from allowing its performance division, R GmbH, to develop an extreme version of its small hatchback, saying that it was struggling to make the business case for an ultra-fast, ultra-expensive small car.

But the rally car mock-up revealed at the launch carried heavy amounts of R branding and is being labelled the ‘Polo R WRC’ by Volkswagen.

Speaking to Autocar, VW board member Ulrich Hackenberg admitted that the WRC campaign — which is based around the Polo and will start in 2013 — would make a variant beyond the current GTI “more likely”.

He said: “You can see how the World Rally Championship programme would increase the probability of an R version of the base model [Polo].” When asked for a timeframe, he said: “It is with the rally programme, not before it. I can’t give a precise date, but it’s along those lines.”

That means a Polo R is due, but it is unlikely to go on sale until 2013 at the earliest. The rally programme will have a car ready to test before the end of this year. But it won’t make its competitive debut until 2013.

The hot Polo is likely to use a further development of the Volkswagen Group’s 1.4-litre, turbocharged and supercharged motor. Volkswagen has cited the new WRC rules, based on smaller engines, as a major factor in its decision to enter the series because of their close links to production models.

The Polo R’s version of the motor is likely to produce considerably more than the GTI’s 177bhp. Expect a figure north of 200bhp. Four-wheel drive is unlikely, although the car could use the same system as Audi’s forthcoming S1, helping to justify the development costs of making the set-up work on that platform.

John McIlroy

See all the latest Volkswagen reviews, news and video

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2017 Range Rover Velar
    First Drive
    23 July 2017
    The Range Rover Velar is the most road-biased car Land Rover has made. So does it still feel like a proper part of the family?
  • Seat Ibiza
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    A model upon which Seat has staked its future, the new Ibiza must now deliver
  • Honda Clarity FCV
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    Honda’s fuel cell flagship reaches its second generation, but is the world ready?
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta 2017 review
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    A UK drive in Nissan’s crucial crossover shows an update has not cost it any of that which makes it sell so well
  • Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    The Seat Ibiza has wowed in other iterations, but how will the entry-level 1.0-litre MPI version stack up in the UK? We've been to north Wales to find out