It's been more than a year since Volkswagen confirmed it would sell its Polo subcompact in the U.S. But the company also said it would modify the Polo to make it more suitable for the U.S. market, which prefers sedans to hatchbacks.
Now, the other shoe has dropped: VW has just unveiled the Polo sedan that's expected to be the high-volume model for the States. It may or may not be joined by the five-door and three-door hatch models, which VW previewed last August.
The 2011 Volkswagen Polo sedan was actually introduced in Moscow, since it will be built in Russia (a lower-cost country than Germany) for the European market.
U.S.-market Polos will likely be produced at VW's large Mexican assembly plant, which now builds all gasoline-engined Jettas for the U.S. No information on the Stateside model has been provided so far, but we expect a price point starting between $13,000 and $15,000.
We also expect the usual five-speed manual and perhaps a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. In Europe, the Polo offers both gasoline and diesel engines from 1.2 to 1.4 liters.
For the U.S., we suspect VW will offer a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four, rather than the costlier 1.2-liter, direct-injected and turbocharged engine offered in Europe, where Polos routinely sell for $20,000 or more.
Will there be a TDI clean diesel Polo? The Polo BlueMotion TDI sold in Europe uses a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbodiesel fitted with stop-start. But it's open to question whether U.S. buyers would tolerate a mere 75 horsepower and a 0-to-62-mph time of more than 13 seconds--we'd bet against it, or expect a larger and more powerful turbodiesel.
The 2011 Polo would compete with the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio. For marketing, expect VW to play up the "German engineering" angle, and stress the Polo's sporty ride and handling.
Since the demise of the Brazilian-built subcompact VW Fox in 1993, the smallest Volkswagens sold in the U.S. have been the Jetta compact sedan and the Golf and GTI hatchbacks.