Volkswagen hasn’t had fielded a car in the World Rally Championship for a couple of years now, having pulled out of the sport at a point where they were under particularly intense scrutiny and financial difficulties due to the dieselgate scandal.
With the all-new Polo, the German manufacturer has had time to lick its wounds and continue its winning campaign. So while this GTI R5 looks every bit like it belongs on a rally stage, it’s purpose is to woo customers enough to purchase it - possibly to live out their WRC or Group B fantasies.
And if you do have the kind of money for this rally-ready Polo, which should cost as much as a typical Porsche 911 Carrera, we encourage that you pursue this over common or garden prestige sports car. Basically, the world needs heroes, and it also needs a renewed interest in rallying because, well, it’s awesome.
Actually, a good chunk of sales will also go toward smaller independent teams in more local rallying scenes, a practice spurred by the FIA passing the R5 regulations for racing homologation. Since then, over 400 rally cars have been bought privately, produced by five different manufacturers.
Alright back to the R5 and what was done to create it. Obviously, it’s based upon a Polo GTI hatch, but since the start of 2017 Volkswagen’s motorsport team have been working on transforming it into a true stage-stormer.
"The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems. The feedback from the test drivers was very positive," says project technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison. "It is obviously beneficial to be able to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world championship.”
“And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, we are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015.”
Volkswagen have not detailed all the upgrades and mechanical alterations they’ve made, but we imagine them to be quite extensive. Just from sight we see a suspension that’s been significantly lowered with wider tracks and some extra air ducts for either aerodynamics or cooling.
There’s also large rear spoiler affixed to the roof, lightweight racing wheels, and even an air scoop. Inside, the interior has been stripped of creature comforts and outfitted with a roll cage and a reconfigured control layout for racing.
It should go without saying that the Polo R5 has all-wheel drive, but drive is sourced from regulation-specific 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that’s been tuned and boosted to produce 200kW and 400Nm. And with just 1,320kg to weigh it down, it can sprint to 100km/h from rest in 4.1 seconds.
True to the rally experience, the dual-clutch transmission outfitted of the passenger car has been swapped out for a close-ratio sequential 5-speed racing gearbox operated through a lever instead of paddles that is factually more fun than paddles and no arguments will be accepted.