Volkswagen mints new Polo
THE evergreen Volkswagen Polo has been with us for so long that Gordon Brown - remember him? - was still Prime Minister when the current version was launched in 2009.
That is a very long shelf life for a volume seller from Europe's biggest car company so, despite it continuing to sell strongly, the time has come for VW to wheel out a new version.
The new Polo gets the same shiny new underpinnings as the new Seat Ibiza and which, in true Volkswagen Group style, will soon be doing service in a variety of other VW, Seat, Skoda and Audi models.
Such economies of scale are a virtuous circle for the customer, and as a result the new Polo is lighter, stronger, safer, more efficient, roomier and more high-tech.
The bodywork, although bigger than the outgoing car, could be mistaken for nothing other than a Polo - or perhaps a shrunken Golf, though it also looks like the new Ibiza - but the inside appears to have been given a welcome boost of colour.
As is increasingly the case with even small cars, the Polo will be available with a range of 'big car' tech, such as LED headlamps, wireless smartphone charging, active dampers in the suspension, adaptive cruise control and a digital dashboard
The Polo is a very important car for VW - the previous five generations have sold more than 14 million examples - and with this new sixth generation model, it is tapping into the 'personalisation' trend with a range of paintwork options, trim levels and styling packages.
A GTI version will be available from launch, powered by a 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine and complete with trademark tartan seat trim.
As is increasingly the case with even small cars, the Polo will be available with a range of 'big car' tech, such as LED headlamps, wireless smartphone charging, active dampers in the suspension, adaptive cruise control and a digital dashboard.
Nine engines will be offered at launch, including a natural gas unit that we are unlikely to ever see in our showrooms.
Six petrols and two diesels should be coming our way though. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on lower-powered cars, with more powerful models getting either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
VW says that the Polo is "no longer the car that people only buy when they cannot afford the Golf".
"Now it is exactly the car that people want," it says.
Whether people prefer their small cars to be, well, small seems to be a moot point - this new Polo is bigger than a Mk 4 Golf - and whatever way you look at it, the baby VW has grown up.
We don't yet know how new Polo models offered in Northern Ireland will be specified or priced, but the car is scheduled to go on sale in October, with customers getting their hands on them in 2018.