Such a waste. Volkswagen spent untold sums of money and expertise into developing a new Polo for the World Rally Championship, only to pull the plug and shut down the entire operation before it could ever compete.
The FIA wouldn’t even homologate the car for a privateer team to use in VW’s stead. But at least part of it seems to have been salvaged in the machine you see here.
It’s called the Polo GTI RX, and it’s the car that multi-champ Petter Solberg will campaign in the World Rallycross Championship this season.
Now truth be told, we don’t know how much of the new rallycross car is borrowed from the aborted rally machine. But we do know that they’re ostensibly based on the same model, and built by the same people at Volkswagen Motorsport who orchestrated the team’s four consecutive world titles.
The parameters are a little different, though – in this car’s favor: where the WRC regulations limit displacement to 1.6 liters and output to 380 horsepower, the RX machine packs a 2.0-liter turbo good for 570 hp. The result is a 0-62 time 1.9 seconds. No wonder they call them Supercars.
Geared more for explosive acceleration than straight-line speed, the 2,866-pound beast will top out no higher than 124 mph. Fortunately Solberg has the chops to make the most of it – especially now with the backing of a major manufacturer.
Not only did he win the World Rally Championship in 2003, but he took the first two World Rallycross titles in 2014 and 2015 driving a modified Citroën DS3. He’ll be joined by up-and-coming 28-year-old Swedish ace Johan Kristoffersson, who has already proven himself multi-talented, winning previous rallycross rounds and titles in Scandinavian and Italian touring cars.
They’ll have to contend with some serious competition, though, including similarly prepped versions of the Audi S1, Ford Focus RS
and Fiesta ST, Kia Rio, and Peugeot 208 – driven by talents like defending champion Mattias Ekström, seven-time rally champ Sébastien Loeb, and American superstar Ken Block (to name just a few).