AS Volkswagen continues its relentless drive to world domination, its steely gaze has been turned towards the littlest model in the Australian range – the Polo.
Long overlooked by many as being too pricey and without the pizzazz of other baby Euro or Japanese rivals, the new, fifth-generation version of the 35-year-old supermini has suddenly matured with a Golf-like vigour, to provide a seismic shake-up of the upper light-car segment.
Hitherto unheard of refinements like direct-injection petrol engines and DSG dual-clutch gearboxes finally make it into the baby-car realm, and the Polo is poised to finally lead after years of languishing in the doldrums.
Fiesta, Mazda2, Jazz and co, your lives have just become a whole lot harder now.
Model release date: May 2010
VOLKSWAGEN softened the stark four-eyed look of the fourth-generation Polo released in 2002 with a smoother and friendlier face, as well as a host of refinements and new models designed to build on the driveability advances made over previous editions.
The staple 55kW/126Nm 1.4-litre single-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine lived on from before, mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, in three and five-door body styles, variously under the Club or Match nomenclature.
Mid 2006 saw a small boost in engine power and torque (59kW/130Nm) for manual models, with a six-speed auto replacing the four-speeder from August 2007.
Meanwhile VW released the 74kW/240Nm 1.9-litre Polo TDI in late 2005, in five-door/five-speed manual transmission only, as well as the 110kW/220Nm 1.8-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol GTI, which gained its own niche following.
From July 2006 a 77kW/153Nm 1.6-litre four-pot petrol mid-range five-door Match was imported to further complicate the already extensive Polo portfolio.
A minor upgrade from October 2008 saw the series simplified with the three-door Edition 1.4, five-door Pacific 1.6 petrol and Pacific TDI diesel, and GTI.
All included a modest specification gain.