Here’s Polo! Don’t let her “gentle evolution” fool you

Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2016

There is nothing “gentle” about this car, but I suppose we could agree that changing-very-little can be described as a “gentle evolution”, which is the phrase Volkswagen used in their press memo (below). For now, we can focus on the looks, but soon enough we’ll be able to see and hear what Polo has to offer on the stages. Volkswagen shared some info about the improvements and changes, but it’s the package that counts. And there’s no doubt this package can (and will continue to) deliver. It’s always silly to declare firm favourites before the first special stages, but this car has three world titles under her belt, so clearly Polo is expected to be the main candidate for 2016 laurels as well. Let’s not forget the superstrong driver line-up – Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen – all with at least one win and numerous podiums on their account. Yes, Polo will be the one to beat in 2016 too, no question.

Unless they made some mistakes while applying their “gentle evolution” touches to the title winning machine, but I don’t think Volkswagen are known for their mistakes. I am strictly referring to the unintentional mistakes here, though.

To my knowledge, this is the only photo of 2016 Polo R WRC, so there are still some possible details Volkswagen wants to hide from us, but it seems this will be the year of blue World Rally Cars. With the possible exception of Citroën’s not-at-all-factory-team.

Official stuff below.

Fine-tuning for the World Rally Championship: Detailed improvements to the Volkswagen Polo R WRC for the new season

The most successful car in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is now even better. Volkswagen has made detailed improvements to the Polo R WRC ahead of the new World Championship season, which kicks off with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo from 21 to 24 January 2016. The few cautious changes to the equipment used by three-time world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), as well as Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), were undertaken with a view to increasing the car’s reliability. Minor modifications have been made to the Polo R WRC – and not just under the bonnet. Changes have also been made to the design of the front of the car, giving the 318-hp four-wheel drive powerhouse an even more striking appearance. With 34 wins from 39 WRC rallies, the Polo R WRC is the most successful rally car of all time after just three seasons.

“We are about to defend our world championship title for the third time in a row,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The opposition has not been sleeping, and has modified its cars for the new season. So have we, of course: the changes to the Polo R WRC are basically fine-tuning and detailed improvements to make the world championship-winning car even better. You have to bear in mind that the regulations in the World Rally Championship only allow a few modifications within a homologation period. Thanks to this stability, it is possible to challenge for the title for several years with an existing car, making only detailed improvements. That is precisely our goal for 2016.”

Under the bonnet: an even more powerful Polo R WRC

The second generation of Polo R WRC is now even more reliable: two systematic changes to the chassis have optimised the stability of the car. The front subframe has been strengthened, as have the rear-axle wishbones for the gravel specification of the Polo R WRC. The pistons in the 318-hp engine have also been the subject of a minor modification, which is barely visible to the naked eye, in order to further optimise its reliability. As such, it is virtually identical to the engine used in the 2015 Polo R WRC.

On the bonnet: changes emphasise the beefy front

The changes to the exterior design of the Polo R WRC are far more visible. The fundamentals of the 2015 design remain unchanged, while minor modifications emphasise the beefy front of the World Rally Car. White stripes and areas make for a vivid front, emphasising the clear lines and striking design of the best-selling car from Wolfsburg.