An official close to Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess says that the carmaker will rename its Polo R WRC, contender for the 2017 World Rally Championship, as the Polo GTi. This is an effort to provide a closer connection between Volkswagen’s premier motorsport engagement and its second-bestselling model line internationally.
The renaming, to be announced at the unveiling of Volkswagen’s new 2017 Polo-based World Rally Championship contender scheduled for later this month, adds emphasis to a successor model to today’s second-generation Polo GTi currently under development at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. Set to crown the upcoming sixth-generation Polo line-up, the new front-wheel-drive performance hatchback will get a more powerful engine than the 192hp 1.8-litre turbo petrol used by the current model. The new model is planned to go on sale internationally in early 2018.
Earlier plans for the introduction of a four-wheel-drive Polo R have been cancelled as part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting programme instigated in the aftermath of the diesel emission manipulation affair, leaving the four-wheel-drive Polo R WRC and its name without a direct connection to a series production Polo.
In 2012, Volkswagen celebrated its entry in the world rally championship with the unveiling of the limited-edition Polo R WRC Street. The front-wheel-drive hatchback, of which just 2,500 were built between September 2013 and March 2014, featured a turbocharged 2.0-litre direct injection petrol engine delivering 220hp.
A new generation of WRC machines will compete in the 2017 championship, with the VW Polo GTi going up against the Citroën C3, M-Sport Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and Toyota Yaris rally cars.