VOLKSWAGEN PLANSTO rename its Polo R WRC (World Rally Championship) contender the Polo GTI, according to an official with close ties to the German car maker’s chairman, Herbert Diess. The move is intended to provide a closer link between VW’s motorsport engagement and its second best-selling model line. The renaming, to be made public at an official unveiling of the new 2017 Polo-based WRC car later this month, adds momentum to a third-generation Polo GTI currently under development. Set to crown the new Polo line-up, the front-wheel-drive hot hatch will go on sale in the UK in early 2018.
It will feature a more powerful engine than the 189bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol unit used by today’s model. Earlier plans for the introduction of a four-wheel-drive Polo R, hinted at by a prototype driven by Autocar in 2014, have been cancelled as part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting programme instigated in the aftermath of the Dieselgate scandal. That left the four-wheel-drive Polo R WRC and its name without a direct connection to a production Polo model. In 2012, Volkswagen celebrated its entry in the WRC with the unveiling of the limited-edition Polo R WRC Street. Just 2500 examples of the front-wheel-drive hatchback were built between September 2013 and March 2014. It ran a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that delivered 217bhp.