The Volkswagen Polo is ready to take on the WRC scene from 2018 onwards, albeit it would be running in the WRC-2 class and will be part of their customer sport initiative and not a full-fledged factory outfit. The new Polo GTI R5 rally car was recently showcased in Mallorca, Spain; prior to the launch of the 2018 road-spec Polo GTI.
After being the dominant team for nearly four seasons from 2013-2016, the shutting down of operations of Volkswagen Motorsport’s rallying division came as a bit of a massive shock to all. The 2017 WRC-spec car had been undergoing testing and was ready for the season, but the company decided to pull the plug. There were talks going on of Volkswagen providing the said car for customers to rally as a privateer but that too came to no fruition.
Under the hood of the new Polo GTI R5 rally car is a 1.6-litre four cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection that makes a 268.2bhp and 400Nm torque. That is a 45bhp reduction of power and torque down by 30 Nm from the outgoing Polo R WRC. The R5 weighs 1320 kg, a 120kg increase in weight than the R and Volkswagen claims the Polo GTI R5 can break the 0-100kmph barrier in just 4.1 seconds which is slower than the Polo R which hits the ton in 3.9 seconds. Transmission is a close stepped sequential five-speed gearbox, as compared to the sequential 6-speed gearbox of the Polo R. The four-door rally car gets steel chassis along with roll-cage and other safety components as per the FIA regulations.
The new car will undergo the homologation process in late summer of 2018 with the vehicle expected to hit the stages in autumn the same year. The Polo GTI R5 will go up against its sister company Skoda’s Fabia R5 which has been ruling the roost in the WRC-2 class as well as in multiple other championships worldwide. The Fabia R5’s prowess has been helpful in bagging our very own Gaurav Gill his third APRC title this year.
“It is obviously beneficial to be able to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world championship. And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, we are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015,” said Demaison at the event.