Key among the compact car competition for the new model is the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio and Nissan Micra.
Speaking to Autocar at the car's launch, Herbert Diess, chairman of the VW brand board of management, wouldn't say if he thought that the new Polo could entice buyers away from the UK's best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta, but did say: "I am convinced that we have the most competent car in this segment." Diess continued to talk about the car's improved handling, particularly in GTI form, suggesting that the new Polo and Polo GTI could challenge the Fiesta and Fiesta ST in terms of handling prowess.
Based around the German car maker’s MQB AO platform architecture, the new Volkswagen has grown quite significantly to match the dimensional gains made by many of its more contemporary compact class rivals; it boasts a 94mm longer wheelbase than the fifth-generation Polo at 2564mm, while the track widths are up by 62mm at the front at 1525mm and by 49mm at the rear at 1505mm to provide it with a considerably larger footprint than ever before.
Diess said: "All cars normally grow a little, but where the Polo has grown most is in its wheelbase; this adds a lot of comfort but doesn't add a lot of size. The car has become wider and lower, so the car's proportions are improved. It's increased a little in size, but this has been fully translated to the inside; more leg room and a lot more bootspace."
The previous Polo was based around Volkswagen’s PQ25 platform, whose engineering dates back to the fourth-generation model launched back in 2001.
The adoption of the new underpinnings, which employ a combination of hot formed steel and aluminium within the floorpan for added weight savings and support a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, has provided scope for a more progressive exterior design, according to Volkswagen brand design boss, Klaus Bischoff.
“Better proportions create the framework for a more confident appearance,” he says. “We have capitalised on the realignment of dimensions with an expressive design. It’s a car that fits perfectly with our times both visually and technologically.”
Despite being immediately recognisable as a Volkswagen, Bischoff and his team of designers have incorporated a number of new design elements on the new car, including a distinctive swage line graphic that provides additional structure to the bodywork in an area above the door handles.
At 4053mm in length, 1751mm in width and 1446mm in height, it is 81mm longer, 63mm wider and 7mm lower than its predecessor.