Volkswagen hasn’t given up on the idea of a Polo R, it seems, as Autocar reports that the company has now committed to building a production model. Although VW said last year that it had no plans to build a Polo R, since such a car would compete with the company’s forthcoming Audi S1, the German manufacturer’s decision to enter the Polo into the World Rally Championship (WRC) has spurred it on to build a hotter version of its smallest hatch.
Talking to VW board member Ulrich Hackenberg, Autocar learned that the company’s participation in WRC competition would make a variant above the current Polo GTI “more likely.”
“You can see how the World Rally Championship program would increase the probability of an R version of the base model [Polo],” Ulrich revealed to Autocar. When pressed to give a general timeframe for the Polo R’s release, Ulrich said, “It is with the rally program, not before it. I can’t give a precise date, but it’s along those lines.”
Seeing as the Polo R rally car won’t be competing until 2013, Autocar believes that a production version won’t be available until that year at the very earliest. The VW team is expected to have a rally car ready to test by year’s end, but the long process of fine-tuning the platform for major competition probably means that development of a production version will be put on hold until at least 2013.
Autocar speculates that the Polo R will likely use a further refined version of VW’s twincharged 1.4-liter I-4. However, as we reported last year, Dr. Ernst Linder, technical chief of the new Polo, previously stated that the 1.4-liter engine in the Polo GTI is already close to maximum power—good for maybe 10 to 20 hp more, at most. At the time, Linder suggested that a different engine be used. We’d still like to see a slightly detuned version of the 270-hp 2.0-liter I-4 out of the Golf R under the hood of VW’s smaller hatchback offering, but that’s just wishful thinking.
Whatever engine is used, Autocar predicts that the Polo R will have more than 200 hp at its disposal. While Autocar believes all-wheel-drive is unlikely to make it onto the Polo R, it does point out that the Audi S1, which is built on the same platform as the Polo, will feature an all-wheel-drive system — making the inclusion of such a system on the Polo R a possibility. Still, seeing as how VW originally didn’t want to build a Polo R in fear that it would undercut its own S1, we don’t see that happening.