Rumours have been circulating for some time now about Volkswagen’s desire to join the World Rally Championship. As their plans have seemed more and more certain the only speculation that remained was whether the car they chose to compete in the WRC would be the Scirocco or the Polo. Speculate no more, because here is Volkswagen’s official entry – the Polo R WRC.
Starting in 2013, the Polo R will take to the rally stages of the world and aim to repeat the success of Volkswagen’s Dakar Rally team, who won the gruelling event three years in a row. 2012 will see an extensive testing program to ensure the Polo is ready for its first competitive year.
Powered by a 1.6-litre TSI engine that uses turbocharging and direct injection to produce nearly 300bhp and 260lb/ft, the four-wheel drive Polo R will join the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Citroen DS3 and Mini Countryman. The swollen body work covers a wider track, while the huge rear wing and front spoiler add much needed downforce to help keep the Polo on the straight and narrow.
The timing is great for Volkswagen, as the experience of the Dakar Rally team can now be focused on the new target of success in the WRC. The Polo R WRC will be competing as a full factory team, allowing the Wolfsburg-based squad to make the most of the experience and facilities which have been built over the past few years. With the Dakar team winding down for 2012, there’s a good chance that double World Rally champion Carlos Sainz will end up joining the new team in an advisory role.
More importantly for hot hatch fans this could mean we see a road-going Polo R, powered by a similar 1.6-litre turbo. While it might tread on the toes of the Golf GTI, a Polo R with around 210bhp and four-wheel drive (the same system as used in the Audi A1) is a tempting prospect. Let’s hope that the Polo R WRC proves to be a success!