Polo so basic, yet so capable.
VW Group’s small car platform has delivered cars of such high calibre to the British motorist that Iain P W Robertson reflects on just how successful one compact model can be.
Here is the deal. You want a tiddler to cut your car costs. You do not want to spend much more than high four-figures. You also want to know that it has longevity, durability and other inherent strengths. Narrowing down the possibilities is a tough exercise.
You can forget the Chinese for the moment. They have too many domestic issues to deal with and, as long as their cars crumple like origami crows, when confronted by a crash barrier, they have not a cat in hell’s chance of selling any in the UK. The Koreans have been playing catch-up, quite speedily, but they have introduced issues related to not-so-good value-for-money, which look insurmountable at present.
The Japanese produce fairly sound machines but an investment in design might make them more attractive. The French have always presented jingoistic problems that leave them on the discount heap, while the Italians are their own worst enemies. Therefore, we are left with the Germans, because the balance is American (no way), or Blitish (a kind of oriental-UK hybrid that does more for our nation’s balance of payments than inspire).
Think German and Volkswagen comes to mind. Its Czech (Skoda) and Spanish (Seat) alternatives fall into this mix. However, the model worth contemplating is the Polo. It has history and a pretty decent one at that. However, perhaps more to the point is that the Polo has become the all-conquering, all-but-invincible darling of the rallying set.
This is the model that started from scratch in early-2013, built an early and indefatigable repute, tipping its Citroen and Ford rivals into the proverbial cocked hat, before concluding its debut competition season by lifting every title imaginable for its drivers and the manufacturer. Okay. It takes teamwork to achieve this state of nirvana and what VeeDub does not know about the subject is scarcely worth knowing. It is inherent to the brand.
Okay. The rallying version of the Polo, powered by a notional 315bhp engine (probably one hell of a lot more, such as around 400bhp) that also delivers a mountain of pulling potency (torque), which costs around £300,000 to produce is somewhat wide of the realms of conventionality. Yet, deep down inside exists a bare bones Polo and, let’s face it, they both originate from the same German company.
VW cannot afford to travel backwards in either marketing or engineering terms and the latest Polo R WRC shows massive improvements that will make its rivals wilt even further. If that is not a decent place from which to contemplate owning a new (regular) Polo for 2014, then I do not know where is.
Conclusion: Carmakers have tried desperately to justify their immense promotional spends involved in motor sports at any level and rallying has always been one of the more questionable, not least because of the lack of mainstream TV coverage. However, motor sport can improve the breed and, in the VW Polo’s case, it already had a great starting point.