The Polo from Volkswagen is one of the world's best-selling supermini cars with nearly 14 million units produced. Supermini car? At least that is the official name of the Polo class in Germany – in the international jargon of the automotive industry it is the B segment. Whatever the segment name, and regardless of its compact dimensions, attractive prices and good fuel economy values, there is nothing small about the Polo. All the more so now, because a generation of the bestseller is now making its debut which has been significantly updated technically. The new EU-6 engines and the infotainment and assistance systems of the Polo, in particular, have now taken enormous strides forward. Consider the engines: the entire engine range was reconfigured. Volkswagen has realised fuel economy improvements of as much as 21 per cent. The new Polo TDI BlueMotion sets a record here; with a combined fuel consumption of 3.2 l/100 km (82 g/km CO2) it is one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the planet. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, available starting this autumn, also marks the first time that a Volkswagen with a petrol engine is being marketed as an independent BlueMotion model. In this car, 4.1 l/100 km and 94 g/km CO2 set top values.
The Polo of 2014 also increases its lead over the competition with an impressive range of new convenience and safety functions that is unique in its class. The Polo will also be one of the first compact cars to launch with distinctive LED headlights – also starting this autumn. Furthermore, the base model, the Polo Trendline, is equipped with K7 headlights as standard. Another redesigned feature available immediately at market launch are dual round headlights with H7 technology (standard from Polo Comfortline).
A new electro-mechanical servo steering system improves steering properties. Volkswagen also offers the new optional Sport Select suspension - which uses electronically controlled dampers - so that drivers can choose between two tuning characteristics at the press of a button. Many other assistance systems of the Golf class are also making their way into the new Polo. They include the standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System (automatically initiates braking after a collision), Driver Alert System, Front Assist ambient traffic monitoring system with City Emergency Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The view towards the rear can now be sharpened by the optional Rear Assist rear view camera as well.
The radio and radio-navigation systems were re-conceptualised; as second generation systems they reflect state-of-the-art technology in what is known as the modular infotainment system (MIB). That is, the software and hardware of these systems follow the infotainment world of the larger Golf, and - depending on the version they may offer functions such as Bluetooth audio streaming (with a smart phone, including cover display and touchscreen control), a proximity sensor (other menu details are shown when hand approaches the screen), two-finger map zooming in navigation mode (like on a smart phone) and interfacing of the mobile phone to the vehicle's exterior antenna by inductive coupling. All four systems can be equipped with digital radio reception (DAB+). In addition, special smart phone apps can be accessed on the touchscreen via MirrorLink™.
Visually, the new Polo can be made out by sharper front and rear designs. Fresh colours, new interior materials and many other equipment details perfect the Volkswagen car. The latest generation Polo will already arrive on the market sometime this spring. First deliveries will be in Germany - where, by the way, the car will be offered at the same selling price as the previous model, despite improved features and new technology. Most other European countries will follow immediately thereafter. In Africa and Asia, the successor to the "2010 Car of the Year" will make its debut in the second half of the year. Along with the basic versions (Trendline, Comfortline and Highline), the Polo will also be offered again as a GTI, BlueGT, CrossPolo and the mentioned BlueMotion model. As in the debuts of the up! and the Beetle, at the market launch Volkswagen is also introducing an exclusively equipped launch model in Europe: the Polo "Fresh". This high-end limited edition model will be offered in five body colours, with exclusive equipment features and a two-tone interior.
The newly developed electro-mechanical steering system is making its debut in the Polo. The compact system was integrated directly into the steering column. The new Polo steering system is distinguished by its very precise and agile response and steering properties, and it decouples roadway bumps very well. The system is operated with a steering gear (worm gear) that is driven by an electric motor.
Volkswagen is offering electronically adjustable dampers in the Polo for the first time. They are the core technology of the new, optional Sport Select suspension. The basic tuning of this suspension is already sporty, but more comfortable than a conventional sport suspension. When the driver presses the "Sport" button (in the upper area of the centre console) this activates an electro-mechanical switching valve in the dampers which switches their tuning from this sporty yet comfort-oriented basic tuning to the stiffer characteristic of a sport suspension.
The system utilises a radar sensor integrated at the front end. The desired vehicle speed can be specified over a range from 30 to 160 km/h. ACC works with either a manual gearbox or with DSG (dual-clutch gearbox). In all Polo cars with DSG, when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop the ACC system comfortably brakes the Polo to a full stop as well. ACC maintains the prescribed vehicle speed together with a preselected distance to the vehicle ahead, and it brakes or accelerates automatically in flowing traffic. Drivers can individually vary the system dynamics by selecting a specific driving programme. If the new Polo is ordered with ACC, it gets the Front Assist ambient traffic monitoring system as well as City Emergency Braking. As an alternative, a module that includes Front Assist and City Emergency Braking may be ordered separately, i.e. without ACC.
Front Assist utilises a radar sensor integrated at the front end to continually monitor the distance traffic moving ahead. Front Assist assists the driver in critical situations by preconditioning the braking system and outputting visual and acoustic warnings to inform the driver. In a second stage, it emphasises the need to react by a short warning jolt of the brake. If the driver brakes with insufficient pressure, the system can generate a braking pressure that is necessary to avoid a collision, which may be significantly higher. If the driver does not react at all, Front Assist brakes automatically – if necessary until the Polo reaches a standstill. The system also assists the driver by warning if there is insufficient distance to the vehicle ahead. One component of Front Assist is City Emergency Braking.
City Emergency Braking is a system extension of Front Assist. It monitors the space in front of the Volkswagen by radar sensor. The system operates at speeds below 30 km/h. If the driver does not react in a situation with an impending collision with a vehicle ahead that is moving or stationary, then the brake system is preconditioned as in Front Assist. If necessary, City Emergency Braking then automatically initiates hard braking to reduce the severity of the accident. In addition, the driver is assisted with maximum braking force if the pedal force by the driver is insufficient.
A technological high-light of the new Polo is the standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. After a collision, it automatically brakes the vehicle to avoid secondary collisions or reduce their severity. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System is triggered when a primary collision has been detected. It assures controlled handling of the car by the driver, even in case of automatic braking. The driver can "override" the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System at any time. The system is deactivated, for instance, if it recognises that the driver is accelerating. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System is also deactivated if the driver initiates hard braking with greater deceleration than the system deceleration.
The Driver Alert System detects waning concentration of the driver and outputs an acoustic warning for a duration of five seconds, and a message appears in the instrument cluster recommending a break from driving. If the driver does not take a break within the next 15 minutes, the warning is repeated once.
Volkswagen has set up a new range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. This makes the latest generation of the two-door and four-door bestseller even more economical on the road. An example: fuel consumption of the 90-PS diesel version with DSG was reduced by 21 per cent. All engines fulfil the EU-6 emissions standard; in addition, all versions are available with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode (standard from 66 kW / 90 PS).
All petrol engines offered in Europe were converted to new three- and four-cylinder versions. The power levels at market launch are: 44 kW / 60 PS (indirect injection / MPI), 55 kW / 75 PS (MPI), 66 kW / 90 PS (direct injection / TSI) and 81 kW / 110 PS (TSI). Fuel consumption and emissions of the entry-level engine with 60 PS - in the version with a stop-start system and regenerative braking - were reduced from 5.5 l/100 km and 128 g/km CO2 to 4.6 l/100 km and 106 g/km CO2. Another prime example of efficiency, which will make its debut during the second half of the year, is the new 90-PS engine of the new Polo 1.0 TSI BlueMotion – the first one-litre three-cylinder turbocharged direct injection engine in this model series. It consumes just 4.1 l/100 km and emits 94 g/km CO2. The previous model with an identical power output of 90 PS consumed 4.9 l/100 km (equating to 113 g/km CO2).
As previously, one of the petrol versions of the latest Polo that will make its appearance in 2014 is a BlueGT version with cylinder deactivation (ACT – active cylinder management). The engine now outputs 110 kW / 150 PS instead of the previous 103 kW / 140 PS. There are also firm plans for a new Polo GTI. Here, engine power is boosted from 132 kW / 180 PS to 141 kW / 192 PS.
Also new in the Polo are three direct injection three-cylinder turbodiesels (TDI); they now all generate their power from 1.4 litres displacement (previously 1.2 and 1.6 litres). The power range is identical to the previous model: 55 kW / 75 PS, 66 kW / 90 PS and 77 kW / 105 PS. The versions with 75 and 90 PS will be offered at market launch; the 105-PS version will follow with a schedule offset. It is quite interesting to compare the properties of the new 1.4 TDI with those of the retired 1.2 TDI. Increasing displacement to 1.4 litres leads to significantly improved drive-off torque and results in more harmonious torque and power curves. Even in the 75-PS version, a powerful 210 Nm of peak torque is already available at a low 1,500 rpm. The new three-cylinder engine also offers very good comfort properties.
Technology implemented by Volkswagen to increase comfort include new engine bearings; the engines also have a balancer shaft and a dual-mass flywheel to also minimise vibration and noise. A newly designed engine cover and special oil pan facing shell contribute towards further reducing acoustic emissions.
The new generation of engines has improved TDI fuel economy significantly. Once again, the 75 PS Polo TDI BlueMotion is pioneering in its fuel economy; in this version, Volkswagen has further reduced fuel consumption from the extremely good 3.4 l/100 km to 3.2 l/100 km (from 88 g/km CO2 to 82 g/km). Especially noteworthy is the excellent progress made in the Polo TDI with DSG and 90 PS. This new model has a fuel consumption of 3.4 l/100 km (89 g/km CO2). Figures for the previous model were 4.3 l/100 km and 112 g/km CO2; this represents a 21 per cent improvement in fuel economy.
When it made its debut in 2009, the efficient and safe Polo (five stars in EuroNCAP crash testing) was also a frontrunner in visual design. This was the first time that Volkswagen implemented its contemporary "design DNA" in the B segment (EU class designation) after its initial introduction in the Scirocco and Golf. Unlike many other automobiles of its class, the Polo took on a distinctly more mature and sporty image based on the design language defined by the Heads of Design Walter de Silva (Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Brand) - which is characterised by the significant use of horizontal elements at the front and rear, with clean lines throughout and a powerful shoulder section. This sophisticated design with its clean lines has now been made even more precise and sharper. Designers further developed the front and rear styling to be more distinctive. The new designs of the headlights and rear lights also lend a special charisma to the car. The new Polo is 3,972 mm long (+ 2 mm), 1,682 mm wide (without door mirrors) and 1,453 mm tall.
The front-end design -has a much more three-dimensional and sporty look due to its redesigned bumper and larger lower air intake. A new chrome trim strip is a design-structuring element that visually joins the two fog lights and gives the Polo a wider look. At the same time, the trim strip shifts the visual centre of gravity further downward. Meanwhile, another chrome element also supports the formal integration of the grille into the headlight design on the Polo Comfortline and Highline; this chrome line joins the centres of the headlights with the horizontal alignment of the radiator grille, which also makes a sophisticated impression.
The latest generation Polo introduces a very innovative lighting design into the model series. Volkswagen has developed entirely new headlights in LED technology for the top version Polo – a first in the model series and the entire class. These LED dual headlights, with their highly detailed avant-garde design, are unmistakable – even from a distance – and feature prominent reflectors. The light of the LED headlights is even whiter and more similar to daylight than that of xenon headlights, and it is less straining to the eyes of drivers while driving at dawn or dusk or at night. The LED headlights will be available for the Polo Trendline, Comfortline, Highline and GTI.
In the rear bumper area, the car's width is emphasised by further developed styling, a cleaner horizontal layout and a wider cut-out for the licence plate. The trapezoidal outer contour of this area extends into the rear wheels, which creates a more dynamic tension of surfaces. The rear reflectors embedded in the bumper also give the visual impression of greater width. The rear lights were redesigned as well.
From the side, the updated Polo can be made out by its six new alloy wheel designs of a total of ten offered. New to the wheel line-up are the standard alloy wheels for the Polo Comfortline (15 inch) and for the Polo Highline (16 inch). The newly developed 17-inch alloy wheel can be ordered as an option. There are three other new alloy wheels for the Polo BlueMotion (15 inch), CrossPolo (17 inch) and Polo GTI (17 inch) model versions. New wheel covers of the standard 15-inch steel wheels were also designed for the entry-level version.
Eight of the 15 available colours are new: "Pure White", "Urano Grey", "Blue Silk Metallic" (until now an exclusive colour for the Polo BlueGT), "Sunset Red Metallic", "Corn Flower Blue", "Clear Water Blue Metallic" (special colour for the Polo BlueMotion) as well as "Honey Orange Metallic" and "Titanium Beige Metallic" (custom colours for the CrossPolo).
Many new ergonomic and visual improvements have been made inside the latest Polo. Along with the new three-spoke steering wheels of the Golf class, the new instrument cluster with its 3D tube look is a prominent visual highlight. The instruments, which are styled in the typical Volkswagen design language, are finely detailed and very precise in their workmanship. The layout of controls on the redesigned centre console is very intuitive. On the upper control level, just beneath the air vents, is a control panel that has been expanded from seven to nine buttons; positioned in the middle and easy to reach, for instance, is the hazard lights unit.
Located on the next control level of the centre console is the infotainment module, which is easy to see. The latest Polo is the first Volkswagen to get the second generation radio and radio-navigation systems of the "modular infotainment system" (MIB). Four units with touchscreens are available here: the "Composition Touch" model represents the entry-level system; it has a 5-inch monochrome display, SD and AUX-IN interfaces and front loudspeakers. Positioned above this system is the "Composition Colour"; it offers a 5-inch colour display, two additional rear loudspeakers, a CD drive (including MP3/WMA function) and phase diversity (dual receiver system). The maximum extension stage among the radio-CD modules is called "Composition Media". Its features include a USB interface and a 6.5-inch colour display with proximity sensor, Bluetooth phone interface, JPEG viewer for playing in graphics and voice control as an optional feature. The top unit of the new generation of infotainment systems is the "Discover Media"; compared to the "Composition Media" it adds a navigation system. As an option, the systems can be extended by adding iPod integration (MEDIA-IN) and a rear view camera (from Composition Colour).
For the first time, the optional MirrorLink™ will be offered as a feature in conjunction with the "Composition Media" and "Discover Media" infotainment systems. This now makes it possible to display and control the contents and functions shown on a smart phone on the touchscreen of the Polo infotainment system. To avoid distracting the driver, only specially configured apps will be accessible while driving. Volkswagen will offer apps, for example, which, along with geo-coordinates from the navigation unit, can also access vehicle data such as engine speed, car speed and the fuel tank level. Apps may also be used that are not directly related to vehicle operation, such as Internet radio and news services, provided that they support MirrorLink™. To improve reception quality and at the same time reduce radiated emissions from the mobile phone, the smart phone may be wirelessly connected to the exterior antenna of the Polo – via the "Comfort" mobile phone interface. Here, it suffices to simply place the phone in front in a storage compartment on the centre console. The phone is charged via a USB connector.
Interior specialists also optimised controls for the climate control systems (manual or automatic control). They are arranged below the infotainment system. Chrome accents on the door trim panels, the air vents and around the gear shift console also add to the sophisticated ambience.
As in the previous model, Volkswagen is once again offering three equipment levels in the 2014 model year Polo: "Trendline", "Comfortline" and "Highline" (other versions will follow such as the BlueGT, GTI, BlueMotion and Cross). Buyers will now get even more added value, especially in the base version. Consider Germany where standard features of the Polo Trendline now include 15-inch instead of 14-inch wheels, a split rear bench including dual cargo floor, new electromechanical steering, remote control for central locking, multifunction display and tyre pressure monitoring system.
Polo Comfortline features were extended by adding 15-inch alloy wheels (previously 15-inch steel wheels), ParkPilot in front, the "Composition Touch" radio system and the multifunction display Plus. The Polo Highline is now equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels (previously 15-inch) and the new driver alert system as standard. Other new features will be offered as options; these include electrically folding door mirrors, automatic running light activation and a rear view camera. As in the previous model, the new Polo will also be offered with a large panoramic tilt/slide sunroof.
As in the debuts of the up! and Beetle, Volkswagen is offering an exclusively equipped model for the European launch of the Polo: the "Fresh". Its highlights include a notably sophisticated two-tone interior.
This special model, delivered with 16-inch wheels in new "Portago" design (in exclusive "High Gloss Steel" colour), and preferably painted in "Cornflower Blue", is visually differentiated by black painted door mirror covers, LED licence plate illumination, high-gloss black radiator grille screen, standard fog lights, tinted rear windows (from B pillar back), rear lights that are also tinted and "Fresh" badges on the front wings. Offered as alternatives to "Cornflower Blue", which is known as the communication body colour, are "Pure White", "Reflex Silver", "Oryx White" and "Deep Black".
The Polo Fresh also lives up to its name inside, because it was designed in two tones. Expressing a very exclusive appearance here in "Ceramique" are the bright surfaces of the door inserts and the lower dashboard with glovebox cover. Also styled in "Ceramique" are the centre panels of the seats; they are complemented by a contrasting "Dark Palladium" colour, which appears in the door trim panels, upper area of the instrument cluster, enclosed centre console with a panel in "Dark Rhodium Fine" colour, side and add-on parts of the sport seats, the centre arm rest and lower sections of the A and B pillars. As an alternative, the centre seat panels may be configured in "Dark Palladium". The black leather and its bright contrasting stitching ("Ceramique") that trims the steering wheel and hand brake grip and gear shift lever is also sophisticated.
The exclusive interior is perfected by pedals in aluminium look, fabric floor mats with coloured borders, white LED ambience lighting in the vicinity of the centre console and colour coordinated footwell illumination.