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Polo won’t hurt Golf’s game, say VW

Sibling rivalry: Volkswagen’s light and small hatchbacks will be closer than ever when the all-new Polo launches later next year, thanks to a platform shared with the Golf.

New Volkswagen Polo won’t steal sales from Golf sibling when it launches in 2018

21 Aug 2017

DESPITE the two cars sharing fundamental mechanical parts and a visual connection, Volkswagen Australia believes that the new Polo will not encroach too deeply into Golf territory when it launches in Australia late 2018.

The Polo was revealed in Germany in June ahead of a full unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show next month, and it will be built atop a new, smaller version of the same MQB platform – known as the AO – that underpins the current Golf.

The AO platform is also expected to be used under cars including the brand’s forthcoming small SUV that will sit under the forthcoming T-Roc, as well as other light hatch products in the Volkswagen Group.

Early specs show that the new five-door-only Polo will, at 4053mm long, end up some 200mm shorter and 40mm narrower than a Golf hatchback, despite the shared architecture, and offer 94mm more wheelbase length and 71 litres more luggage space than the current Polo.

Dumping the Polo’s ageing PQ25 platform, which dates back to 2001, will allow VW to more easily add the most up-to-date driver aid systems to the car, as well as newer powertrains such as the 110kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 147kW will power the next-generation Polo GTI, replacing the current car’s 1.8-litre unit.

Volkswagen Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer said that despite continued softening demand for light cars in Australia, the strength of the Polo’s content offering will help to offset the trend.

“What’s really guided our thinking about that product is the move of Polo to the MQB platform,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Golf Performance line in NSW last week. “It brings with it a lot of substance to the cars, so for us Polo isn’t just a cheap and cheerful entry car into the market.

“It’s actually something I think where people will see the quality that’s in that product and it can offer more than just a price point. It’s certainly a larger car than the outgoing model, and I think because of the MQB connection, it also brings with it a lot of technology into that segment that maybe hasn’t been available there before.”

The Polo will drop into a segment where competitor cars such as the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta are much older, something that Mr Shafer sees as a potential advantage.

“It’s going to attract traditional customers but also potentially some customers from some small car competitors,” he said, “which I think it should be able to compete with, in terms of what it’s offering in terms of technology and so forth.”

Mr Schafer said he does not foresee any issues when it comes to marketing the Polo against the brand’s traditional five-door hatch, the Golf, even suggesting that some overlap is inevitable.

“You know, I'm not too concerned if there’s a little bit of lap between products,” said Mr Shafer. “I think that’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, when we look at Golf the biggest seller for us is the (mid-grade) Comfortline so it’s not about the entry price.

“If we were a company that was relying on super sharp driveaway deals and were only selling base Golfs, then you’d have to be more careful about how Polo is positioned. But I think for us we find that customers are actually happy to move through the ranges. They’re coming to Volkswagen for a quality product at a still attainable price.”

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