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Volkswagen's new Polo GTI rally car is here

The VW Polo GTI R5 is a rally car you can actually buy

Last month, Volkswagen showed us its new Polo rally car in sketched image form. Now we’ve seen the real thing.

While it’s not a glorious comeback for VW’s hugely successful WRC campaign, it’s something perhaps more relevant. It’s a car you can actually buy and compete in yourself. If you’re willing to spend Audi R8 money on a very clever Polo, that is…

The Polo GTI R5 is based upon the new Polo GTI hot hatch, though its four-cylinder turbo engine is actually smaller: motorsport regulations dictate it’s 1.6 litres in size, rather than the road car’s 2.0 litres.

But with 270bhp and 295lb ft channeled through four-wheel drive, is notably more powerful and technical. Faster, too: 0-62mph takes an almost supercar-like 4.1secs, which you’ll get to via its five-speed sequential gearbox.

The GTI R5 has already been out on the test stages, with VW test driver Dieter Depping and Skoda Fabia R5 driver – and 2017 WRC2 champion – Pontus Tidemand on driving duties.

Testing took place in November in Fontjoncouse, France, where the previous Polo R WRC was first developed, too. In December, the GTI R5 comes across to Great Britain, whose wintry surfaces ought to provide an even tougher challenge.

“This first test was primarily about getting a lot of kilometres under our belt, in order to give the engineers as much data as possible,” said Depping. “I can tell you one thing now: The R5 Polo is very good, very quick and precise. I immediately felt right at home!”

As a VW employee he probably wouldn’t publicly admit otherwise, of course. But VW’s past form – and how successful the Fabia R5 currently is – suggest this won’t be a dud. It will be homologated in summer 2018, with the first customers getting their cars shortly after. Like what you see?

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