If the recently revealed Mk6 Polo has won you over, there may be some bad news for you.
With the brand new sixth generation Polo, Volkswagen has pushed the limits of what a super-mini can offer. From a digital instrument console, to electronically assisted driver aids, to a new natural gas powered engine, the 2018 VW Polo aims to raise the bar and become the segment benchmark internationally.
The new Polo looks like a scaled down version of the VW Golf which gives it a premium vibe. Considerably larger dimensions make sure that the cabin is now more spacious and it also has a bigger boot. The design of the cockpit itself looks like it belongs to a more expensive car. Body coloured panels on the inside liven up Mk6 Polo’s interior, which is a big step up from the Mk5 Polo’s drab cabin.
However, bringing this freshly brewed super-mini to India will be a big task for Volkswagen. Most of the new Volkswagen Polo’s freshly incorporated premium-ness is credited to the use of the company’s MQB platform. This is the same modular platform which underpins an extensive range of VW group cars ranging from the newly launched Tiguan to the cars like the Skoda Octavia, Superb and the likes.
This is a boon for Volkswagen internationally as it helps save cost, but it may not be the case in India. The cars currently underpinned by the MQB platform in our country – Skoda Octavia, Skoda Superb, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi A3 and Audi A4, are all either imported or only assembled locally.
This straightaway implies that the localisation of the MQB platform in India is minimal. For the cars mentioned above, this really doesn’t make a difference because all of them cater to the premium segment. The Polo, on the other hand, competes in the sub-million rupee price bracket. In India, the Polo goes head-to-head with cars like Hyundai Elite i20 and Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Increasing localisation for the MQB platform in India would cost a bomb to VW, the consequence of which would straightaway reflect in the new Polo’s price tag. In such a case, the more powerful ‘GT’ variants of the car may demand more cash than some of the mid-sized sedans like Maruti Ciaz. To make matters more complicated, the added dimensions of the new car has made it longer than 4metres, thus it would lose out on tax benefits in India.
Another twist in the tale is that the Polo has the responsibility of spawning out two other cars – Vento and Ameo, both of which cost more than the hatch. If the MQB Polo itself cross the 10 lakh rupee mark ex-showroom, then what future has in store for the most expensive Vento is anyone’s guess.
How will VW India deal with this turmoil you may ask? While nothing on the new Polo has been made official by VW India, there has been a development in the past which gives us the liberty to speculate. In May this year, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Motors. As per this agreement, the two companies aspire to jointly develop cars by sharing platforms. It is very likely that Volkswagen will use Tata’s latest AMP modular to develop India-specific models.
So, it is quite likely that while India will get a new generation of the Polo, it won’t be the same as the one in the global market. The new Indian Polo, Vento, Ameo and the rumoured VW compact SUV, may be jointly developed by VW India and Tata Motors. This will give VW the competitive price advantage.
Despite getting on its age and being one of the most expensive hatchbacks, the Mk5 Polo still sells pretty decently in India. A lot of this has to be credited to the car’s clean design and solid built quality. If VW decides to make an India-specific Polo, it would be great if they ensure that the present Polo’s biggest forte – its premium appeal and the driving dynamics, are retained in the new model.