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2009 Geneva Motor Show
All-new VW Polo: longer, wider, safer and... lighter!

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5, for summer 2009 (front view).

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5, for summer 2009.

APN

05 March 2009.

Bechara Aboul-Nasr.

For the world debut of its all-new Polo at the 79th Geneva Motor Show (5 to 15 March 2009), Volkswagen managed to get exciting news to sparkle around the all-new, fifth generation subcompact (B segment, supermini) "people's car" from Germany.

Actually, despite the difficult financial and economic global climate, it was the VW Group which cheered the mood when it announced earlier this week that it increased last year its sales revenue by 4.5 percent (to EUR 113.8 billion), its operating profit by 3.0 percent (to EUR 6.3 billion) and its worldwide sales by 1.29 percent (6.272 million vehicles, compared to 6.192 million in 2007).

Volkswagen Polo, generation 1 (1975-1981)

Volkswagen Polo, generation 2 (1981-1995).

Volkswagen Polo, generation 3 (1994-2002)

Volkswagen Polo, generation 4 (2002-2009).

Volkswagen Polo, generation 5 (2009).

The five successive Polo generations (from the top: 1975, 1981, 1994, 2002 and 2009). More details on the different generations can be found in the Volkswagen Polo page at Wikipedia.

Global production of the largest European automaker (cars and trucks) grew by 2.1 percent, from 6.213 to 6.347 million units (cars and trucks), while profit increased by 1 percent before tax (from EUR 6.543 billion to 6.608) and 13.7 percent after tax (from EUR 4.122 billion to 4.688).

Of course, 2009 will be another story for everybody. But besides the new Polo which will be in the markets from the last week of June 2009 (production of the five-door Polo is scheduled for the end of this month), the third largest car group in the world (behind Toyota and GM respectively), is betting on other new models of the Golf (VI), the Audi A4, the Seat Ibiza and the Skoda Yeti, to reduce the impact of the global crisis.

In China alone, the VW group sold last year 1.02 million vehicles, which gave it a 19% market share, and expects to double its sales there to two million vehicle per year by 2018.

In addition, the group which had 369,928 employees at the end of 2008, is also addressing the reduction of fuel emissions and consumption with a range of 105 current models having CO2 emissions lower than 140g/km, and 24 models emitting less than 120g CO2/km. This should also translate into showroom sales, not only politically correct declarations.

It is worth mentioning that Porsche Automobil Holding SE raised its share of the ordinary voting stock of the VW Group to 50.76 per cent last January (the German State of Lower Saxony owns 20.10%), with plans to raise it further during the current year, to 75 per cent of the group which includes nine brands (Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Scania and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles), with automotive products covering from small to super luxury car segments, and from pick ups to buses and heavy trucks.

It might be also worth mentioning that the VW group sells over... 64 times the total worldwide sales of its major shareholder, Porsche, especially after the latter announced that it no longer expects to achieve in the current fiscal year 2008/09 (ending July 31, 2009) the total sales figures that it achieved in the previous FY 2007/08 (98,652 vehicles).

The new Polo - It may not be as old as the Beetle name, but still, the Polo label has been around for 34 years now, enough to reach it's 5th generation now.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: profile.

 Short, sporty overhangs and a low roof, especially at the rear.

In fact, the 1st generation Polo was originally launched in 1975 to fit just under the compact Golf (C-segment, lower medium, launched first in 1974, and now in its 6th generation). The Golf also came one year after the first generation Passat, VW's representative in the family car known as the upper medium, midsize or D segment category). That was the time VW launched it big offensive on the three most important passenger car segments, long time before it dared to tackle the E/F segments with the Phaeton, seven years ago, not to mention its purchase of the Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti brands at the end of the nineties.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: rear / side (3/4).

Polo: the small, subcompact, B-segment category of supermini cars able to welcome 5 passenger in a >4 metres long body.

Polo plays under the Golf, in the small, subcompact or B segment, whatever you prefer to call the supermini category of cars still able to welcome up to 5 passenger in an under-4 metres long body.

Safety - On the safety side first, the 5th generation Polo was designed to deserve the top 5-star EuroNCAP rating, with a higher structural rigidity of the bodyshell.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: headlight and fog light.

Options include turning lights integrated in the front fog lights.

In the European specifications, Polo is normally equipped with standard ESP (electronic stability program) with Hill Hold Control, and a set of supplementary restraint systems including combined head-thorax airbags (integrated in the front seatbacks), seat belt tensioners and belt force limiters plus seatbelt warning indicator and head restraints that protect from the risk of whiplash injury (both front seats), three rear head restraints and Isofix child seat preparation.

Despite the growth in structural, dimensional and equipment terms, VW says that the new Polo’s body weight was cut by an average of 7.5 percent.

The introduction of new TDI (diesel) and TSI (petrol) engines, as well as the 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DSG), also helped reduce fuel consumption and emissions over a wide range of engine power outputs. The new 1.2 TSI (turbo-charged four-cylinder direct injection gasoline engine) which produces 77 kW / 105 PS, consumes an average of 5.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (equivalent to 42.8 miles per US gallon, or 51.4 miles per imperial gallon), with CO2 emission of 129 g/km. That's 19 percent less than on the equivalent model of the previous Polo generation.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: tail light.

Taillights extend to the shoulder, with a distinctive night image.

In its first year, seven engines will be offered with the new Polo: four petrol (gasoline) and three diesel ones, generating from 44 kW / 60 PS to 77 kW / 105 PS. Five of these engines are entirely new or are being used for the first time in the Polo.

The new engines include all three TDIs (turbo-diesel direct-injection), bringing the common rail technology to the Polo this time. When combined with a "BlueMotion package", the average fuel consumption of the Polo 1.6 TDI (66 kW / 90 PS) is reduced to 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres (equivalent to 61.9 miles per US gallon, or 74.3 miles per imperial gallon) and 96 g/km CO2 making it one of the most fuel efficient and lowest emitting five-seater diesel car in the world.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: dashboard and console, side view.

Top central air vents with high-end bezels in aluminium.

The "BlueMotion package" can be optionally ordered with any of the three equipment lines, the base version Trendline, the mid-level Comfortline and the Highline at the top.

VW says that options will include static turning lights integrated in the front fog lights, (from Comfortline up), side curtain airbags (head airbag system for front and rear passengers), radio and radio-navigation systems and integrated hands-free telephone systems. A panoramic sunroof and bi-xenon headlights will follow at a later time.

Exterior and dimensions - Visually, the 2009 Polo follows the new Volkswagen "Design DNA", seen in the new Scirocco coupé, Golf VI and their high-roofed brother, the Golf Plus.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: dashboard, steering wheel, console and door lining.

New three-spoke steering wheels developed for the Polo

The new design led by Walter de Silva, Head of VW Group Design, is defined by "sharp and precise lines". It does not aim for a "cute" image, but rather a mature and practical one, with convincing dimensions (for the segment) of 3952 millimetres in length (longer than the previous generation by +36 millimetres) and 1682 millimetres wide (+32 millimetres), welcoming up to five people with a decent luggage volume for a small car (280 to 952 litres).

The gain in width combined with a reduction in height (-13 to 1454 millimetres) underline the dynamic look with a low centre of gravity, especially with the increased track width (+30 millimetres both front and rear). The range of optional tire dimensions extends to large wheel-tire combinations, up to 215/40 R17.

Just a few centimetres above the road, the narrow body-coloured front spoiler has been moved forwards, for better pedestrian protection.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: front seats with armrest.

New for the Polo: armrests in the door trim panels (with storage bin for a 1.5 litre bottle) and a front centre armrest (folding with storage compartment) can now be ordered.

The taillights display a distinctive night image and extend into the shoulder. The tailgate extends right down to the bumper. As on the Golf, the Polo’s tailgate is opened with the VW logo, which swivels up and acts as a handle. A roof edge spoiler is integrated in the tailgate.

The profile line shows sporty overhangs with a low roof, especially towards the rear. Since the previous generation (see comparative photos above), the five-door Polo has sported the "three window look", referring to the integration of the third side window in the C pillar. This characteristic is even more prominent on the new Polo. In the area of the A (front) and C (rear) pillars, the lower window line also takes an upward sweep, a reference to the styling of the headlights and taillights.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: side mirror and door lining.

Mirror housing with air resistance reduced by 20%.

By their shape, the pronounced side skirts offer aerodynamic benefits, like the underbody which is also optimised for airflow, in addition to newly developed outside mirror housings, with air resistance reduced by 20 percent compared to the previous 4th-generation model.

Interior - Starting with the "Comfortline", the surface of the instrument panel is upgraded by "slush technology" (a high-end surface structure that is soft to the touch). The lower area of the cabin as well as the door inserts and interior trim panels may be ordered in Anthracite or Seashell tones.

For convenience, the centre console is now turned more toward the driver, with completely redesigned controls but still organised as on the previous model. The top central air vents have high-end bezels in aluminium look from the Comfortline up (Trendline: high-gloss black).

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: instruments with white backlighting.

Instruments: white backlighting, styled like those on the Golf.

New radio and radio-navigation systems are being introduced on the Polo for the first time. Top of the line equipment here is the RNS 310 – a radio-navigation system with touchscreen, multimedia interface (MEDIA-IN), MP3 functionality (via CD, DVD or SD card) and AUX-IN socket on its front panel. The RNS 310 may also be upgraded to include a hands-free telephone unit.

The instruments get white backlighting and are styled like those on the Golf. The fuel gauge is digital and like the bezels for the air vents, the rotary light switch gets a high-end metallic look from Comfortline up.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: centre console with multimedia, automatic climate control and DSG gearshifter.

The centre console is now turned more toward the driver.

Similar to other new models of the Volkswagen brand, new three-spoke steering wheels were also developed for the Polo. The top version gets a leather steering wheel that is more compact than on the Golf. An optional multifunctional steering wheel will be available too. For the first time, armrests in the door trim panels (with storage bin for a 1.5 litre bottle) and a front centre armrest (folding with storage compartment) can now be ordered.

The seats were all redesigned, with more space at all five seating locations. Knee room in the rear is greater due to the growth of the interior length to 1674 millimetres (+8 millimetres). Shoulder room in front (1372 millimetres) is also increased by 22 millimetres. Folding the rear bench seat (with standard 60:40 split starting on the Comfortline) offers a level cargo surface thanks to the dual cargo floor that is standard equipment from the Comfortline up. The dual cargo floor can be mounted at two different heights.

Equipment comes in the following three levels. They apply to Germany and need to be checked overseas, depending on markets.

Trendline - The entry-level Trendline comes with "Titanium black" trim, "Metric" fabric and a number of accents in high-gloss black.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: multimedia, navigation system and climate control.

New radio and radio-navigation systems for the Polo.

Standard active safety equipment includes the electronic stabilisation program (ESP), antilock braking system (ABS) and Hill Hold Control.

Standard passive safety includes front airbags and combined head/thorax airbags (front passenger airbag can be deactivated), five head restraints, five three-point harnesses (height-adjustable in front), belt tensioners and belt force limiters in front, and Isofix-compatible child seat preparation (at the outer seating positions on the rear bench seat). The front seats head restraints were designed to counteract the risk of whiplash injury.

Other standard equipment includes electro-hydraulic power steering, power windows in front, central locking, cargo area lighting and load-lashing points, height adjustment for driver’s seat, illuminated make-up mirrors in the sun visors and green tinted windows.

Comfortline - The mid-level Comfortline includes body-coloured outside mirror housings and door handles, H7 dual headlights, daytime running lights and 15-inch wheels with their covers.

New Volkswagen Polo, generation 5: DSG gearshifter.

Aluminium and leather trim with the DSG gearshifter.

Standard convenience features include semi-automatic climate control (Climatic), electrically-adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, additional height adjustment on front passenger’s seat, storage drawers under the front seats, various accents in aluminium look (instruments, air vents, rotary light switch, radio and climate system controls), asymmetrically split (60/40) and folding rear bench seat and seatbacks, dual cargo floor, storage pockets on front seatbacks and remote control central locking.

Inside, the Comfortline features centre seat panels in embossed "Fonzie" fabric. Besides "Anthracite", "Seashell" is also offered as a trim colour and comes with the lower instrument panel area in two-tone colour treatment.

Highline - At the top, the Highline version gets chrome trim on the radiator grille, 15-inch alloy wheels and standard front fog lights (starting at the "Comfortline" equipment version). Inside, standard equipment includes a three-spoke leather steering wheel (lower middle spoke in chrome), front centre armrest, multifunctional display and tire monitoring indicator, height-adjustable front sport seats, leather trimmed parking brake lever and gearshift knob, and an elegant striped pattern on the seats ("Livon" design).

New Polo - Engines

Petrol

Output

l/100

MPG

CO2

Top speed

Gearbox

(Gasoline)

PS

kW

km

(US) (UK)

g/km

km/h

MPH

speeds

1.2

60

44

5.5

42.8 51.4

128

157

97.5

5

1.2

70

51

5.5

42.8 51.4

128

165

102.5

5

1.4*

85

63

5.9

39.9 47.9

139

177

110

5

1.2 TSI*

105

77

5.5**

42.8 51.4

129**

190

118

6

TDi

Output

l/100

MPG

CO2

Top speed

Gearbox

Diesel

PS

kW

km

(US) (UK)

g/km

km/h

MPH

speeds

1.6 TDI

75

55

4.2

56 67.3

109

170

105.6

5

1.6 TDI*

90

66

4.2**

56 67.3

109**

180

112

5

1.6 TDI***

90

66

3.8**

61.9 74.3

96**

180

112

5

1.6 TDI

105

77

4.2**

56 67.3

109**

189

117

5

* Optional 7-speed dual clutch transmission. ** Preliminary estimate.
*** Values for TDI with BlueMotion package. Source: VW AG.

Engines - Seven engines will be offered on the new Polo during its first year of production – four petrol (gasoline) and three diesels.

Five of these engines are either new or get their first use in the Polo. Three engines can be paired with an optional 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DSG) instead of the manual 5-speed or 6-speed transmission.

On the petrol side, two three-cylinder and two four-cylinder engines provide a power range extending from 44 kW / 60 PS to 77 kW / 105 PS. New to the lineup are the two strongest ones, the 1.4 litre with 63 kW / 85 PS and the 1.2 TSI with 105 PS and a standard 6-speed transmission.

Also new to the Polo are the three common rail turbo-diesels. These four-cylinder engines produce between 55 kW / 75 PS and 77 kW / 105 PS. A BlueMotion version based on the mid-range power level of 66 kW / 90 PS will also debut this year, consuming just 3.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and emitting only 96 g/km CO2.

Chassis - The new Polo chassis has been redesigned with its McPherson strut type suspension in front and semi-independent suspension in the rear. Track width was increased by 30 millimetres front and rear (giving 1464 mm in the front and 1456 mm at the rear).

The front wheels were moved five millimetres forward for a greater caster angle (better directional stability), and larger wheels can now be used to enhance driving performance.

The braking system is enhanced by replacing the 8.5 inch brake booster by a higher performance 10 inch system.

To reach the five star rating in the EuroNCAP crash test, the steering column – with its continuously variable height and reach adjustment – was completely redeveloped, with reduced weight. The standard electro-hydraulic power steering was taken from the previous model and adapted to the new front suspension kinematics, with new tuning of the steering system.

* Photos, data and specifications: Volkswagen AG (Germany) / Volkswagen (UK).

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