Visually speaking, the 2009 Polo was developed 1:1 from the principles of the new Volkswagen "Design DNA". The Scirocco, the first model with this pedigree, was sent to the races in 2008 to take pole position among the world's best cars. Today, this coupé retains its value more consistently than any other car in Germany. The second wave of the new DNA also debuted in 2008 in the new Golf and its high-roofed counterpart, the Golf Plus. These models have since regained number 1 rankings in the eyes of buyers, a fact born out in car registration statistics. Arriving now is the third model based on the new Volkswagen Design DNA – the Polo.
Close network of designers, development engineers and production experts
A precondition for implementing this design philosophy, which is characterized by the greatest precision and clarity, are progressive and highly innovative development and production methods. Designers, development engineers and production experts at Volkswagen work together in closer interaction than is otherwise usual. Their goal was to produce a level of quality, both technical and visual, that is generally only found in cars several classes higher. This alliance was implemented with great success over the past two years by a leadership team under the direction of Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn. On this team, experts such as Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann (Member of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Group; Production), Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg (Member of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Brand; Development) and Walter de Silva (Head of Group Design) combine their creative energies to design and produce cars like the new Polo.
Design and dimensions
Thanks to the new design DNA defined by Walter de Silva, the impression that this Polo makes – in contrast to many other cars in the so-called A0 or supermini class – is not contrived or ‘cute'; instead it is mature.
New Polo shows the new Volkswagen family face
The Polo, with its distinctive new Volkswagen family face, is instead a purposeful and impressive car, which – measuring just 3,970 millimeters in length (+54 millimeters compared to previous model) and 1,682 millimeters wide (+32 millimeters) – offers space for up to five people and a lot of luggage (280 to 952 liters). The car's generous gain in width combined with a reduction in height (-13 to 1,453 millimeters) lends the Polo a more dynamic stance and purposeful appearance. The design itself is defined by sharp, precise lines without stylistic gimmicks that quickly fade in popularity; because in the long run, less is more – and the consistently high resale values of Volkswagens are longstanding proof of this claim.
Walter de Silva's creative touch in a style of "Semplicità"
This explains why Walter de Silva intentionally declared "La Semplicità" – "the simplicity" – as his credo here. "La Semplicità" in no way means a diminishment of features. The opposite is the case. Walter de Silva: "Elegance and emotionality, sportiness and dynamics, continue to guide design and styling. In pursuit of simplicity and clarity, one must carefully consider how to express the intentions of designers while speaking to those of the observer."
The starting point for all of these deliberations is the car's reflection on the Volkswagen brand, its history and its values. "Certain distinctive design elements", says de Silva, "have evolved as typical of the brand. Mastery of the architecture and a balance of proportions have formed the foundation, the emphasis on horizontal lines has evolved into a unifying characteristic across models, and a literal love for details has become an essential means of expression." Above all, there is a very high level of quality that can be clearly seen in the unmistakable precision of the car's lines and in the treatment of its surfaces. The new Polo reflects these design principles par excellence.
"The Polo," underscores de Silva, "displays self-assured proportions. As soon as you see the car, you are struck by its dynamic looks, while the design is clean and the overall appearance very purposeful. Reduced radii, tight seams and extremely sharp panel edges in its side profile, engine hood and tailgate underscore the car's logical design concept. Above all, the gain in width leads to a very full, powerful image from every perspective."
The Volkswagen family face that has been specially adapted to the Polo with its flat grille and band of headlights that has typified the brand ever since the Scirocco – emphasizes the car's additional width. Moreover, it conveys an image of the car's very low center of gravity. Harmoniously integrated in this face are the Polo's body-colored bumpers beneath the black grille.
In a third horizontal line below this, there is another large air inlet that supplies the engine and brakes with ample air. At its sides, this black band incorporates the daytime running lights and fog lights with integrated turn indicators. The daytime running lights save up to 0.15 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers compared to conventional continuous running lights. Just a few centimeters above the road, the narrow body-colored front spoiler catches the eye. This spoiler has been moved forward, and it makes a decisive contribution towards the car's exemplary pedestrian protection credentials.
Volkswagen offers the Polo with two different headlights, depending on selected options: the "Trendline" base version is fitted with H4 headlights. H7 dual headlights are installed starting with the "Comfortline". Also integrated in the headlights are the turn signal lights. In terms of styling, external and internal design features of the headlights with their different lighting elements combine with the lines of the radiator grille to form one unit.
The rear of the car is characterized by geometric order and sportiness. The design cue from the headlights, with their line breaking off with an upward turn, is taken up again in the taillights. They also display a very distinctive night look and extend into the Polo's broad shoulder. Supported on these shoulders – in the area of the car's lateral "character line" that can be seen from every perspective – is the roof section. Meanwhile, the tailgate extends right down to the bumper. Just as on the Golf, the Polo's tailgate is opened with the VW logo, which swivels up and functions as a handle. Standard equipment: a roof edge spoiler integrated in the tailgate.
The car's image is also exceptionally powerful from the rear. From this angle, one can clearly see how designers exploited the increased track width (+29 millimeters in front and +30 in rear) and stretched the outer wheels along a vertical plane right up to the wheel wells as though carved out with a knife. That is also why the Polo can easily accommodate very large wheel-tire combinations. The range of optional tire sizes extends all the way to 215/40 R17.
The lateral profile line is, among other things, dominated by the distinctively sporty front overhang and extremely short rear overhang, the clearly modeled "character line" and low roof that slopes towards the rear. The prominent shoulder line also gives the vehicle a new lateral structure and emphasizes its generally masculine appearance. Since the fourth generation, the five-door Polo has also sported what is known as a "three window look". This refers to the third side window integrated in the C pillar. This design feature is especially prominent on the new Polo. In the area of the A and C pillars, the lower window line also takes an upward sweep, a reference to the styling of the headlights and taillights. Also striking are the pronounced side skirts, whose shape offers aerodynamic benefits. The Polo's underbody is optimized for optimal airflow. Also enhancing aerodynamic performance are the redesigned outside mirror housings, whose air resistance has been reduced by 20 percent compared to the previous model.
Quality and passive safety
Top results when it comes to static rigidity
High body quality and passive safety are very "perceptible" aboard a car, especially in the rigidity of the car body. This is quite evident on the new Polo, because the Volkswagen offers an excellent value of static torsional rigidity at 180,000 Nm/° . The reason: a car body's static rigidity is a key technical property and an important and relevant parameter in evaluating subjective parameters such as safety, quality, and of course driving comfort. The high static rigidity of the new Polo is attained, among other things, by high-strength and very high-strength steels and the right structural design for loading and reinforcement of body nodal points.
This is clearly illustrated at the rear of the Polo: Here too there are very rigid nodal components with envelope-type profile construction, which extend quite far into the contact area of the tailgate hinges. In addition, adhesive joints are used. This construction method optimizes the approach of using a nodal system for rigidity and produces a homogeneous distribution of rigidity in upper body sections. Similar examples of profile-intensive lightweight envelope construction can be found throughout the Polo's body structure.
Greater stability despite reduced weight
Static rigidity was certainly not attained at the cost of added weight. The opposite is true: The car has an excellent lightweight construction factor of 3.6. The lower this factor, the more efficient the implementation of body structure in terms of lightness and rigidity. The new Polo is therefore a perfect example of highly innovative lightweight construction. The fact that the body of this Volkswagen is 7.5 percent lighter than that of the previous model, despite its safety gains, illustrates this impressively.
Top values for dynamic rigidity too
High dynamic rigidity is an essential factor in attaining excellent vehicle dynamics, vibration comfort and ideally balanced acoustics. On the new Polo, the combination of an optimal structural layout of the car body, clever material selection and innovative welding and gluing processes result in top values of 43 Hz for the so-called torsional natural frequency and 46 Hz for the bending natural frequency. In all relevant body zones, high local rigidity values also provide for good sound insulation and therefore for an exceptionally low interior noise level.
Among its goals, the Polo was specifically designed to attain the new, stricter and more comprehensive, 5-star EuroNCAP rating. The higher structural rigidity of the Polo's bodyshell contributes to these results. In the footwell area alone, intrusion – related to the car body's resistance to deformation in a frontal crash – was lowered by 50 percent! In the case of a side impact, the intrusion value was reduced by 20 percent. Specific actions taken to protect occupants in a frontal, side or rear crash:
In a frontal crash – such as an offset crash between two vehicles (with half vehicle overlap of both vehicles) that commonly occurs – the very rigid occupant cell creates a survival space for the driver and passenger. In front, an extremely rigid bumper crossmember was specially designed for an offset crash, in that it takes the impact energy and distributes it to the side of the vehicle not directly affected by the impact too. As a result, both side frame members can now absorb the energy together. The side frames were optimized to achieve a deceleration curve in a frontal crash that significantly reduces on occupant loads.
Moreover, the lower crossmember in the footwell area is designed as a form strengthened component. First, this has reduced its weight by half, and second, it attains very high strength. As previously noted, this has reduced intrusions in the footwell area by up to 50 percent compared to the previous model. In turn, this reduces biomechanical loads to the feet and lower legs enormously. The pedals in the Polo offer passive protection; ideally they prevent injuries in a crash by freeing up space for the feet and lower legs.
The side body section, designed as a type of ring structure – together with the door framed within it – provides for additional form stability, even in frontal accidents with very little overlap. In what are known as load paths, extremely strong, partially form-strengthened sheet metal reinforcements are used here too – in the A-pillar, the similarly braced door rail extending to the B-pillar, the roof frame and the side sills.
The Polo development team assigned special priority to effective side impact protection, since the crush zone in the area of the doors is of course quite small. When the new Polo collides with an object on its side, the energy is channeled via the special form-strengthened B-pillar and profiled impact beams arranged diagonally in the door. Compared to the previous model, the seat crossmember and side sills were significantly reinforced. In this way, both the speed of the intruding object, or colliding vehicle in the crash as well as the intrusion itself, are reduced by 20 percent in a side impact, as already mentioned.
Very critical, as a rule, are accidents in which the car collides with a tree from the side. This case is simulated in crash tests by a so-called pole impact. The Polo body offers an extremely high level of safety in this crash type, thanks to a hot-formed and therefore very stable roof frame and rigid side sills. Compared to the previous model, intrusion has also been reduced considerably here. And indeed by 15 percent.
The rear area of the new Polo was reinforced by especially strong side frames. The fuel system is also given a protective enclosure. In tandem with the very stable occupant cell described, the Volkswagen fulfills the highest requirements in a crash involving collision to the rear body section as well.
Along with the focus on protecting occupants on board the Polo, high priority was also given to the safety of other traffic participants. In a relatively compact car like the Polo, partner safety primarily refers to pedestrian safety. Requirements related to pedestrian safety were integrated early in the design phase of development work.
In the front hood area, interior sheet metal was designed to provide maximum deformation space to prevent punching through onto the hard area of the engine block. The hinges of the engine hood were also optimized for pedestrian safety. The fenders have separate deformation elements as well. In addition, the bumpers were of course integrated into this concept to guarantee the best possible protection of pedestrians.
The new Polo has a highly effective network of airbags as standard equipment, including combined head-thorax airbags (integrated in the front seatbacks), belt tensioners and seatbelt limiters plus seatbelt warning indicator, head restraints that counteract whiplash (both front restraints), three rear head restraints and Isofix mounting preparation for suitable child seats. On the active side, the standard electronic stabilization program (ESP) completes the safety system.
The safest Polo of all times
The sum result of all of these actions is effective. The body provides an exceptionally good foundation for attaining very low crash loading of the people on board, based on the car's optimized crash deceleration, low level of intrusions and the safety cell that is created. The restraint systems individually tuned to the Polo also make a contribution toward reducing injury risk as much as possible. And so this Volkswagen is advancing to become one of the world's safest cars in its class.
Greater stability for lower insurance costs
The body of the Polo – thought through to the last detail – has a direct effect on insurance costs. Because they are conspicuously low. The reason: Even minor parking lot collisions can result in significant damages. To minimize them, the front bumper system consists of a highly stable crossmember and – this is also crucial – integrated softer deformation elements. By targeted reinforcement measures in the area of the system of lower side frames, it was possible to increase the force level in the side frame by 25 percent (!) compared to the previous model.
This energy can be readily absorbed by the easy-to-replace bumper system, and more expensive subassemblies such as the radiator and climate control components are protected by the side frames. The resulting damage is much less in the case of a parking lot accident. And this alleviates repair costs and has a positive effect on insurance classifications: In Germany, the Polo base model was rated for liability class 16, part comprehensive class 15 and comprehensive class 13. This means that the new Volkswagen attains the best ratings in its vehicle class.
All data and equipment contained in this press release apply to models offered in Germany. They may differ in other countries. All information is subject to change or correction.
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