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The upcoming all-new 2017/2018 Volkswagen Polo has been spied in its production duds for the first time, with the hero GTI model caught touring California’s Death Valley this week.

Until now, the new Polo has only been seen in ‘mule’ form, wearing the skin of its predecessor, the current fifth-generation model that has now been on the global market since 2009.

This heavily camouflaged example of the new Volkswagen Polo is giving away little, although it is clear – if only from the ride height, familiar wheels and sports exhaust tips – that we are looking at the hero Polo GTI.

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And while the bulk of the car is comprehensively hidden away under a thick layer at both ends, the thinner covering through the centre offers a good look at the new Polo’s overall proportions.

No surprise, the next-generation hatch will bring ‘more of the same’ on the styling front, maintaining the sharp no-nonsense lines and angles that Volkswagen has long been famous for (ignoring a few iconic curvier models).

But, like the Golf Mk7 – itself due for an update soon – this new Polo Mk6 takes on a wider and lower appearance, with a more heavily raked A-pillar, tapered roofline, compact glasshouse and short C-pillar all lending the car a more sporting look.

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Built on the smallest-yet version of Volkswagen’s MQB platform, the new model seen here is clearing riding on a stretched wheelbase, allowing for greater comfort in the light hatch’s second row.

The current model’s wheelbase measures 2470mm, but reports out of Europe suggest we can expect that to grow to a markedly longer 2560mm.

Under the camouflage, we can likely expect the new Polo to borrow some styling cues from the latest Volkswagen offerings, including the much larger Passat and the new mid-sized Tiguan SUV.

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As for the interior, the UK’s Auto Express has reported that we can expect a far more upmarket cabin with the new model, along with larger-than-ever touchscreen displays that could stretch to around 9.5 inches.

Powertrain options are expected to focus on small turbocharged units, ranging in the regular line-up from a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit with variants offering between 55kW and 85kW, through to a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine offering close to 120kW.

Diesel engines are also expected to be offered again, with four-cylinder units offering between 66kW and 97kW.

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Above: the tall grille and back-cut headlight angles of the new Passat could preview the face of the next Polo

Six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmissions will likely also feature, depending on engine and trim grade selections.

A more powerful turbocharged petrol engine will again provide motivation for the top-shelf Polo GTI hero, although details on that front are less clear. Expect power to reach beyond the 141kW output of the current model – closer to the 162kW offered with the Golf GTI in its regular form – but don’t expect the engine to grow any larger than the recently installed 1.8-litre turbocharged unit.

Watch for more on the new Polo to surface over the coming year, ahead of an unveiling that is expected to occur in the first part of 2017. European sales will reportedly begin in the second half, suggesting a late 2017 launch for Australia.

MORE: Polo news, reviews, videos and pricing
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