The Volkswagen Polo R could be back on the table after the German manufacturer confirmed it would launch an "extremely sporty" variant of its light car before the end of next year.
The revelation follows the unveiling of the Volkswagen Polo WRC Street concept, which VW says gives us our first preview of what to expect from the flagship hot-hatch that is due in about 18 months’ time.
Embracing the philosophy “From motor racing to the street”, Volkswagen says the new production model will draw inspiration from the “highly unique and distinctive design” of the Polo WRC Street concept.
Powered by a 162kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the manufacturer says the Polo WRC Street is capable of “motorsport-like performance”. The powerplant is believed to be based on the Golf GTI’s engine, and promises to take a significant step forward from the 132kW/250Nm offered by the current range-topping Polo GTI.
A unique sports suspension tune underpins the concept, which also benefits from enhanced brakes with blue calipers, multi-spoke grey alloy wheels, gaping black front air intakes, black rear spoiler and diffuser, R-WRC logos and – perhaps most tellingly for the upcoming production model – R badges at the front and rear.
Volkswagen revealed a more hard-core, motorsport-focused Polo R WRC concept 12 months ago that it insisted did not preview a production model, although that vehicle did not wear R badges.
The sole image Volkswagen has released of the new concept’s cabin reveals the it is equipped with a dual-clutch DSG transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Other sporting upgrades include alcantara trim on the steering wheel and door inserts, and part-leather seats with WRC embroidery.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen board member for development Dr Ulrich Hackenberg told CarAdvice he did not believe Volkswagen could generate enough sales to make a "real R version" of the Polo viable, but said a variant that was helpful for WRC homologation "makes sense".
The Volkwagen Polo R WRC concept will be joined at Worthersee by the Polo R-WRC concept, which Volkswagen has described as the “hottest Polo ever”.
The road-going prototype will tour with the FIA World Rally Championship in 2013 as the Polo competes in the series for the first time.
With a 221kW 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet, the Polo R-WRC concept launches from 0-100km/h in a supercar-humbling 4.1 seconds.