August 27, 2015 @ 07:26 PM

Legends and Legacies: Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo just celebrated its 40th birthday so let’s look back at how the Polo had stolen our hearts.


(Image source: devianart.net)

When it comes to the brand Volkswagen most of us would associate it with hatchbacks, not only are they the manufacturers that owns the most popular hot-hatch in the world, they are also manufacturers of the beloved hatchback Polo. As you know, the Polo model is now officially 40 years old!
 
To think this all started when VW Group acquired Audi and decided to rebadge the Audi 50. Hence the Polo was born, identified as VW’s representative in the “super-mini” segment, the Polo had proceeded to dominate the market outselling its “donor” car by millions. When Audi decided to halt production of the Audi 50 in 1978, the Polo was close to selling 500,000 units. Sure enough the company reach their target a year later in 1979.

(Image source: littlepixel.info)
 
The first generation was produced between 1975 and 1981, it was originally just a hatchback but in 1977 the saloon version, then known as the Volkswagen Derby, that is identical from the C-Pillar onwards and connected with a large boot attached. And back then they were all three-door hatches, even the saloons.
 
Volkswagen introduced the second generation in 1981 all the way up to 1995, the Polo MK II is also the longest running mark to date with a staggering 14 years or so! This generation also faced the biggest competition with the likes of the Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta. The MK II had also played the role of a lab-rat for VW as the company utilised the car to create future innovations like a supercharger system that would later be used in the hot-hatch Golf.
(Image source: fotos.tnsc.com)

A diesel engine also came with the facelift of the MK II. It was an innovation of its own, a two-cylinder diesel equipped with a supercharger that was later retained in the MK III. Also known as the most popular generation of the Polo, the MK III had been at the centre of attention even before the car was launched in 1995. The Polo had started its winning streak with this generation that it had spoiled the market.
 
As a result, the MK IV had not make much of a dent in the Polo’s history books. Launched in 2001, the MK IV had featured four headlights and bares structural resemblance as the Golf. VW had opted to drop the estate for this mark but the company had quickly given it a facelift that saw the last of the quart headlights in the hopes to save the model. VW also introduced a crossover SUV version around the lifetime of this generation, known commonly as the Polo Fun.

(Image source: cdn.wp.driving.co.uk)
 
The current generation is the fifth generation, available since 2009, the Polo had since regained its popularity as the best super-mini hatch in its class winning a number of “Car of the Year” Awards in a few countries and more. It also collected accolades from the NCAP awards as well thanks to the safety upgrades that VW had given the car.
 
Interesting to know, while the Polo had spawn a number of other cars based on the same platform throughout the years like the SEATs Ibiza and Skoda Fabia to name a few, none had sold as well as the little Polo. It had created a name for itself since it started in 1975 and left a legacy that many mini-hatchbacks would find hard to beat, especially the MK III.
Of course there is a whole different variant known as the Polo GTI and Polo R that would take the breath away with their speed. But that is a legacy for another day.
 
We’ve recently had the 1.6-litre CKD Polo visit our garage to re-educated on why the car had received so much love but as for why? Catch the October issue of CAR Magazine!
 
Jerrica Leong 
 

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