VW launches its newly minted Polo
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Upsizing the body dimensions — while adopting a downsizing route with new engine technology and introducing a model specially equipped for music-loving younger buyers — is set to widen the appeal of the Volkswagen Polo.
Sold in 140 markets and billed as the best-selling small hatch across global markets, the sixth-generation Polo has debuted in New Zealand.
It has a two-phase launch with three of the five models on-sale now, while high-grade R-Line and GTI models are scheduled for May-June arrival.
Increased dimensions give the new Polo a “mini Golf” status with its overall length increased by 81mm and the wheelbase extended by 94mm to yield increased rear legroom.
It’s the first Polo to measure more than four metres in overall length at 4053mm.
The new Polo is also 69mm wider — immediately evident when behind the wheel with a significant gain in cabin width and elbow room — and there’s also a 25 per cent increase in boot capacity from 280 to 351 litres.
Volkswagen says the increased dimensions make the lastest Polo more spacious than the fourth-generation Golf launched in 1997.
The new Polo also completes Volkswagen’s transition to the MQB modular vehicle platform across all the transverse engine models sold in New Zealand.
The MQB platform enables new safety, driver assist and connectivity systems, and gives a solid feel and wide-track stance of a larger car on the highway.
The common ingredient across the first phase of the launch is a new 1.0-litre TSI engine which is making its first appearance in the New Zealand market.
The triple-cylinder unit with direct injection and turbocharging develops 70kW output at 4500-5500rpm and has 175Nm of torque available from 2000-3500rpm.
Having sampled similar three-cylinder engine formats in recent Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, BMW, Mini and Peugeot models, there is no longer any surprise in the flexible performance and eager torque delivery of modern small displacement turbo engines.
The early torque peak gives it a lively personality and Volkswagen New Zealand has recognised a small niche of small hatch drivers still enjoy a three-pedal driving experience with the base model’s accurate shifting five-speed manual gearbox.
The Polo TSI manual is priced at $25,490 while the same specification is also available with a seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission priced at $27,990.
The base models have 15-inch alloy wheels with 185/65 R15 tyres.
Highlights of the standard Polo specification include a full roster of driver assist features — Front Assist with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Park Distance Monitor and reversing camera.
LED daytime running lights, tyre pressure monitoring, six airbags, Hill Start Assist and Rest Assist driver fatigue warning are also standard.
There is keyless entry and start, 8.0-inch Composition Media colour touchscreen, power folding exterior mirrors, a multi-function leather trimmed steering wheel, manual driver’s seat lumbar adjustment and alarm/immobiliser security system.
The base model TSI is the starting point for the tier-two variant billed as Polo Beats in reference to its 300-watt Dr Dre audio system with six speakers, eight channel amplifier and sub-woofer.
The Beats audio upgrade is accompanied by a contrast exterior colour scheme with Beats decals along with a high-gloss black grille and contrast mirrors, sports comfort front seats, steering wheel shift paddles, special Velvet Red dash inserts and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Aimed to appeal to younger buyers, the Beats is priced at $29,990 with three colours — Flash Red, White Silver Metallic and Deep Black Pearlescent.
In the New Zealand market the Volkswagen brand achieves considerable success with premium and sports theme models.
That will be the role played by the Polo R-Line and GTI models scheduled to reach New Zealand in late-May/early-June.
The Polo R-Line gains a performance boost with the high output 85kW and 200Nm version of the 1.0-litre TSI engine and
seven-speed DSG, priced at $32,990.
Specs are raised with dual-zone Climatronic air conditioning, interior ambient lighting system, LED headlights, front fog lamps, dark red LED tail lights, rear privacy glass and the Discover Media 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation.
The R-Line exterior features 16-inch “Sebring” alloy wheels, a roof spoiler, rear diffuser and R-Line specific grille and
front bumper design while the cabin has an R-Line sports steering wheel, sports seats and a black headliner.
A raised performance level is the main focus of the new Polo GTI hot hatch which gains a 2.0-litre TSI engine developing 147kW and 320Nm — from 1500rpm — matched to a six-speed DSG transmission, priced from $38,490.
Polo GTI can be immediately recognised by its exterior treatment that includes a honeycomb grille, modified front bumper with enlarged air inlet, rear spoiler, red painted brake callipers, twin chrome tailpipes and GTI badging, with a black headlining and alloy-look pedals.
There are 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/45 R17 tyres as well as sports suspension and XDS electronic diff lock for the Polo GTI while 18-inch Brescia alloy wheels and 215/40 R18 tyres are available as a $1500 option.
Options for R-Line and GTI models include the Active Info Display with high-resolution 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster which is $1000, a panoramic sunroof $2500 and adaptive cruise control $1000.
Polo sales in New Zealand totalled 618 units in 2017 although the previous generation had been largely sold out by the third-quarter.
The annual sales target for 2018 is 1000 units — part of Volkswagen’s goal of achieving a 15 per cent increase in sales across its model range in 2018.
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