The Volkswagen Polo R, a model that was due to become the German car maker’s road-going version of its 2013 World Rally Championship contender, looks to have exited stage left.
VW’s Polo R was expected to become a twin to the Audi A1 quattro, which has gone on sale in Europe albeit in limited numbers (333) and left-hand drive only.
The company’s board member for development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, admits a VW Polo R production car would be beneficial from a marketing tie-in with VW’s motorsport campaign but says VW is struggling to find a market for it.
“That is one possibility [producing a Polo R road car] … but we need customers for such a car,” said Hackenberg. “Maybe it is easier for Audi than VW [to market a powerful, all-wheel-drive city car].
“If we make a Polo that is helpful for the WRC, for homologation, then that makes sense. But in the Polo car we don’t have the customers to make a real R version of the car.”
The VW Polo R WRC car (pictured above and main) conforms to the sport’s regulations by featuring all-wheel drive and a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing nearly 220kW.
A Volkswagen Polo R had been rumoured before VW last year confirmed entry to the 2013 world rally championship, based on the company creating a separate R performance division in 2010.
Volkswagen has offered R versions of its Passat medium car and Touareg SUV, though the only current performance models are the all-wheel-drive 188kW Golf R and the front-wheel-drive Scirocco R Golf-based coupe that went on sale locally earlier this year.
A Polo hot-hatch still exists, however, in the form of the VW Polo GTI (below), which serves up 132kW from its ‘twincharger’ 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Dr Hackenberg has revealed, however, that the company is still hoping to put the VW BlueSport roadster into production.