Volkswagen may redefine the supermini segment with a new Polo that is bigger and better equipped, but is priced the same as the outgoing model.
The new Polo is larger than the model it replaces. Its overall length has increased by 152mm to 3897mm, making it just 250mm shorter than the lower-medium VW Golf.
'Because the Golf has moved upward, there is room for a larger Polo,' said Ludger Fretzen, VW product marketing manager. 'All segments tend to move upward, but a four-meter length could be considered the upper limit for this segment.'
The supermini segment is the second largest in western Europe, with 3.8 million sales last year. Only the lower-medium class is larger, with 4.3 million sales in 2000.
But Volkswagen doesn't expect the supermini segment to grow much.
'With so many additional small [multi-purpose vehicles] arriving, there is little growth potential left for typical compact models,' Fretzen said. 'In fact, I would rather expect the segment to lose volume.'
VW plans to sell 400,000 Polos in Europe in 2002, compared with an expected 330,000 this year.
Volkswagen expects the new Polo to attract a different type of customer. Between 55 and 60 percent of current buyers are female and many use the Polo as the second car in a household.
'Because of its larger size, Polo will now become more of a family car,' Fretzen said.
VW will stress value in its marketing of the car. There will be no increase in price despite the bigger size and additional standard equipment such as antilock brakes.
The new Polo will initially be available as a three- or five-door hatchback. But VW will add a Polo Classic with traditional three-box sedan styling later.
Next year, the Polo will gain a gasoline direct injection engine, becoming the first supermini to be equipped with GDI.
Launch: December throughout Europe
Platform: VW group PQ24 small-car platform
Price: DM21,954 (E11,225) in Germany
Competitors: Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Fiat Punto, Peugeot 206, Toyota Yaris, Renault Clio
Engines: 1.2-liter, three-cylinder, 55hp or 65hp; 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, 75hp or 100hp; 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, 85hp gasoline direct injection; 1.4-liter, three-cylinder, 75hp direct injection diesel; 1.9-liter, four-cylinder, 64hp or 100hp direct injection diesel
Dimensions: Wheelbase 2460mm, length 3897mm, width 1650mm, height 1465mm, weight from 1002kg