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VW axes Polo three-door
Polo price point moves upstream ahead of Up’s arrival as VW discontinues three-door
24 Oct 2011
VOLKSWAGEN has axed its cheapest model in Australia, the Polo 1.4 Trendline three-door, in preparation for the launch of its all-new Up city-hatch here around this time next year.
However, the current Polo range-opener will be replaced by an entry-level Polo 1.4 Trendline five-door for the first time early next year, by which time stocks of the outgoing three-door should be exhausted.
Nevertheless, while the Up three-door will land here in late 2012 with a starting price of less than $15,000, base Polo pricing is almost certain to increase from $16,690 when Volkswagen announces its repositioned light-car range later this year.
We expect the new 1.4 Trendline five-door to open the revised 2012 Polo range at about $17,890.
VGA’s current Polo model line-up opens with the 1.4 Trendline three-door ($16,690) and 1.2 TSI Comfortline five-door ($19,850), and also includes the 1.6 TDI Comfortline five-door ($22,350), 1.4 GTI three-door ($27,790) and 1.4 GTI five-door ($28,990).
Dealers are continuing to take orders for the base Polo, but no more examples will be imported from Volkswagen’s Navarra factory in Spain, which will continue to produce both three- and five-door versions of Australia’s Polo GTI hot-hatch but is struggling to keep up with demand for all export markets.
As such, waiting lists for the latter continue to extend to more than a year, but Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) expects them to shorten under its simplified sourcing strategy, which will see Polo GTIs continue to come from Spain and all other Polo variants come from the Uitenhage plant in South Africa, which already makes Australia’s other five-door Polos.
From top: 1.4-litre engine from Polo Trendline, Polo five-door Comfortline, Up, Polo GTI.
VGA spokesman Karl Gehling told GoAuto the reshuffled 2012 Polo line-up, which was made possible by the production of the Polo 1.4 Trendline three-door in South Africa for the first time, would shorten Polo GTI waiting lists as well as make more pricing room for next year’s Up, which is likely to range in price from about $14,990 to $19,990.
“Sourcing from multiple factories is a nightmare and although that continues to be the case, we expect the simplified production for Australia will free up GTI supplies,” he said.
Mr Gehling added that the move to make the Polo a five-door-only model (excluding the GTI) will see the Up become Volkswagen’s sole mainstream three-door compact in Australia.
“Of course, it also gives Up more room to move as our new three-door compact offering, but this about Polo positioning,” he told us.
“The fact is the Spanish facility has struggled to keep up with global demand for Polo since launch and production of the five-door 1.4 Trendline in South Africa allows us to spread that load better.”
VGA has established a waiting program to advise customers who have ordered VW models – including the Polo GTI, about 500 of which are currently on order – on the progress of their particular car.
In conjunction with their local dealer, the program informs customers when their car is confirmed for production, when it will be built, when it will be shipped, when it will land in Australia and when it will arrive at the dealership.
As part of the 2012 restructure, pricing for which remains unknown, the Polo range will come standard with Bluetooth and iPod/USB media device connectivity, bringing Volkswagen’s smallest current model into line with the rest of the range.
The Polo line-up could also be bolstered next year by the addition of a range-topping Polo R hot-hatch, which could be powered by a twin-turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering around 140kW of power while returning fuel consumption of less than 7.0L/100km.
VW’s fifth-generation Polo, which shares its PQ25 platform with the Audi A1 and Seat Ibiza, emerged at the Geneva motor show in March 2009. Apart from Spain and South Africa, it is also built in India and Russia.
Australia was among the last of about 60 nations to receive the latest Polo, in May 2010, following extensive price negotiations to make it as competitive as possible in the nation’s rapidly growing light-car segment. The result was a base price that was $300 less than the model it replaced, undercutting many Japanese light-car rivals.
The smaller Up, meantime, is based on an all-new VW Group platform dubbed New Small Family, which will spawn a complete line-up of new A-segment models.
Set for launch in Europe in December, the Up three-door is now in production alongside the Touareg SUV at VW’s Bratislava plant in Slovakia, but will also be built in Brazil.
VW has confirmed a five-door hatchback will be the next Up derivative to be launched, in December 2012 in Europe. The Up five-door will be released in Australia soon after in early 2013, and is expected to be the volume-selling Up model here, despite a higher starting price of around $16,000.
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