Every now and then, or rather, every single time there is a discussion going on about rally and rally cars in particular, one topic comes up almost regularly. The comparisons between -what was then- and -what is now- are inevitable, both in terms of events, stages, drivers and, of course, cars. Group B is worshiped and adored and you better not be the one not bowing to this altar. Group A cars were great for another thing, beside being a very capable and fun to watch rally car. They introduced the idea of having the almost exact copy of the rally car available at your local dealer – you could literally buy a car that looked exactly the same as the one competing in the WRC and use it to fetch groceries. Lancia Delta HF Integrale, Subaru Impreza (insert sum letters), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Toyota Celica GT4, Ford Escort RS Cosworth to name but a few. An actual rally car had flared fenders and wings and stuff – road car also had flared fenders and wings and stuff. Rally car had four wheel drive – road car had four wheel drive. During the group B era manufacturers also had to deliver a tiny little batches of road going versions of their rally beasts, but group A and even some early WRC cars went to extremes, putting rally ready cars at our disposal.
Today we have Citroën DS3 Racing, trying to be the road going version of the WRC winning DS3 WRC. Ford Fiesta ST would like to be considered a worthy sibling to immensely popular and capable Fiesta RS WRC. Volkswagen won the 2013 WRC titles in both fields and yet all we can buy is Polo R WRC limited edition thing with front wheel drive and 217 HP. Which is in line with what two other manufacturers have to offer. It’s neat, but it’s not exactly right there yet, at least not in a Escort RS Cosworth kind of way. All that can change and soon, if reports are to be believed.
Volkswagen is, reportedly, testing and trialing a much more elaborate version of the road going Polo. You know how Polo was missing from the R lineup and we were all wondering why? Maybe this is why. Volkswagen is said to be working on a prototype that could eventually become the missing Polo R.
This new Polo R is rumoured to pack a “bit” more punch and as a result is much closer to the WRC machine then the 2013 Polo R WRC limited thingy was. The engine is still 2 liter turbo but said to be coupled with the DSG gearbox this time. Neat but behold, instead of sending horsies to front wheels only, this new Polo R wants to move all four wheels, because that’s what rally cars do. Good thing about Volkswagen is that they own cool stuff, one of which is Audi quattro, and reports claim that this uberPolo might end up using the same kind of 4WD system as the upcoming Audi S1. That’s all very nice, but what about the design. Surely, a car which is to serve as a tribute to WRC victories cannot look like the current Polo R WRC limited. We want fenders, wings and then more fenders. Also intakes, yes, intakes are cool. Make it light as well, and may it also sound like it means business. Yes, that should do it.
Whether or not Volkswagen decides to build and sell this thing, it sounds very nice and more in line with what we had “back in the day”. But what if they do build it, can the rest of the manufacturers follow? Would they even care? Can WRC grow so much this year that they would need to care? I hope so.
Before I wrap this up, Hyundai – they still did not disclose anything about the upcoming N lineup of tuned cars, one of which will be i20, so there’s nothing to report, unless they are working on a 4WD car and thus “forcing” Volkswagen to put quattro in a Polo. Silly?
Disclaimer: all this could be wrong and full of odd mistakes. Is what happens when you scrape bits of information from the floor.