Volkswagen has unveiled the new, sixth-generation Polo that will be produced in South Africa, among other global production locations.
The new hatchback will make its debut in South Africa in early 2018, confirms Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA).
The next-generation Polo is new from the ground up. It is based on German carmaker’s MQB AO platform architecture, and will be significantly bigger than the current model. The vehicle’s length has increased by 81 mm, its wheelbase by 94 mm and its width by 69 mm. The boot is also 25% bigger, expanding from 280 ℓ to 351 ℓ.
The previous Polo was based on Volkswagen’s PQ25 platform.
Volkswagen has confirmed the new Polo will be available in petrol and diesel engines, and with manual and automatic transmission.
The new generation will be boosted by a number of technological improvements, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, rear traffic alert and park assist, although it is not clear if they would all filter down to the South African market.
European entry-level variants will make use of a 6.5ʺ multimedia touchscreen, which can grow in size in higher-spec versions, while other nice-to-have options include wireless phone charging and keyless entry.
In Germany, the entry-level Polo will start at €12 975 (R195 000).
VWSA MD and chairperson Thomas Schäfer said earlier this year that the company would ramp up production of the new Polo at the Uitenhage plant, in the Eastern Cape, by the third quarter of the year.
The Uitenhage plant currently produces the existing Polo model, as well as the Polo Vivo.
Building the new-generation Polo is part of a R4.5-billion investment by VWSA’s German parent company into its South African facility, announced in 2015.
The investment will see the plant increase capacity from the current 120 000 vehicles a year to 180 000 vehicles a year.
The plant will move from a two-shift, five-day operation to a three-shift, 24-hour, five-day operation. The two assembly lines used currently will be merged into one.
Around 60% of the volume will be exported to markets outside Africa.
Employment at the plant may increase by between 300 and 500 people.
The Uitenhage plant produced 123 000 units last year, with the Polo and Polo Vivo South Africa’s most popular passenger cars.