By on March 16, 2009

The $13K-$15K American compact market is going to get another player, as Automotive News [sub] reports that VW’s Polo is coming stateside. But VW won’t be selling the traditional Yaris-fighting small hatch version of the Polo here, says VOA CEO Stefan Jacoby. Instead VW is easing into the segment Toyota-style, offering an Echo-echoing four-door sedan version of the Polo alongside a “Polo Plus” mini MPV. “It’s more like a cross between a compact minivan and a hatchback. In other words, it’s more like the Honda Fit,” says Jacoby of the “American fatty” version of the Polo. Expect the Polo to be built in Mexico in hopes of keeping the cost down, a consideration that takes on more importance thanks to VW’s decision to focus on the sedan/MPV approach. “We have to come in at the sweet spot of this market or else it makes no sense—and we come too close to the Jetta,” says Jacoby. So why sell a sedan at all? More importantly, why go with the cheap Hecho-En-Mexico approach when it prevents the US Polos from offering the real jewels of VW’s small-car portfolio: high-tech engines like its direct-injection, turbo- and super-charged 1.4 TFSI.

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34 Comments on “VW To Play Polo In America...”

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    It appears VW really wants to be Toyota in the US, and not VW. Good luck.

  • avatar

    Ok, so first there’s the NMS, which replaces the Passat (and is supposed to be cheaper to make, as well as “more amenable to American tastes”). Now we get a Polo modeled after the Echo sedan, which was probably Toyota’s only significant failure in the last quarter-century.

    Volkswagen says they want to be the next Toyota, but they’re actually trying their damndest to be the next GM with moves like this.

    Side note: anyone else want to bet the the NMS is based off the Sebring?

  • avatar

    Arrrggggh! Why does EVERYONE think Americans need special versions of cars that are just fine for the rest of the planet!
    Not even the freakin’ American car companies will sell their good stuff here.
    Not to mention that by 2011 the crisis will be over (according to Bloomberg it’s already over as of this morning) and VW will re-assess it’s plan as “not economically viable at this time..”

    The same old BS….

  • avatar

    Once again we don’t get the cool version of the Polo offered in the rest of the world! What’s more, when the damn thing doesn’t sell they’ll just pull the Polo line completely instead of giving us the same lineup as everyone else, assuming that Americans don’t want hatchbacks. I predict failure for the sedan, and only slight success for the MPV thing. We’ll see.

  • avatar

    # Paul Niedermeyer :
    March 16th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    It appears VW really wants to be Toyota in the US, and not VW. Good luck.

    It doesn’t appear that way to me. How can VW be Toyota with that many CR black dots?

    If VW wants to be Toyota, that should be the first area to work on, as opposed to introduce another re-badged all-black-dot model.

  • avatar

    Girls who will drive VWs like this don’t care about TDI, direct injection, superturbochargers or any of that stuff. Slap an old 2.SLOW in this thing and if its cute enough, they’ll sell em by the truckload.

    For the rest of us, the cars with the good motors will hopefully continue to come from Germany :)

  • avatar

    OH yay another runty little tack-it-on trunk VW. You know for when the Jetta is too costly but not too ugly for you. I suspect the motive behind this special for America product mix is the Americans love of sedans. The rest of the world gets it, that a hatch doesn’t have to be mounted to a jacked up station wagon or softroader, but we don’t. We’re special like that. So special, so very very special in a TOBS kind of way.

  • avatar


    Yup, once again, Americans have to ride on the short bus.

  • avatar

    I’ll reserve judgment until I see how hideous the sedan is see specs & pics.

    That hatch looks decent.

  • avatar

    I couldn’t care less about the three-box version, but I’m kinda curious about this Polo Plus. Would it replace the Rabbit in the US, leaving only the higher priced GTI coming from Germany?

    If it downsizes slightly from the Rabbit (akin to a Polo sized version of the Skoda Roomster), that might just about right for me. I need to haul growing kids around regularly, and going too small would nix it for me. This might be just the ticket.

    It definitely needs to have a high-mileage powertrain, though. A TDI would be great. A thirsty “American engine” like the 2.5L 5-cyl simply won’t cut it. And for me, it must have a real clutch.

  • avatar

    Sedan? Polo sedan? Are they out of their blessed mind?

    What is the thing in the photo then? Is that the Polo Plus? And what engine is the “Plus” going to get? Let me guess, a 2.5l?

    I swear, VOA’s marketing really competes with Chrysler when comes to inept product specification.

  • avatar

    If it’s being built in their Mexico plant this thing fails already, that’s the source of most of their problematic vehicles! What a shame.

  • avatar

    It’s almost they are making an extra effort to make US model cars unattractive. I had one of these ‘mini sedan’s‘ (hello Isuzu I Mark) back in the 80’s and it was a terrible waste of space and vehicle packaging.

    To steal a phrase, when it comes to the North American market, VW never misses an opportunity – to miss an opportunity….

  • avatar

    But no 70 MPG TDI Polo?



  • avatar

    And will this one have the same reliability trend of all VW’s? Namely, after about 10K, all kinds of crap starts happening and continues to happen until you, the owner, finally realize understand the definition of insanity and buy something, *anything* else?

    Until VeeDub figures out how to make reliable cars and get their service act together, anything they do is mostly doomed to not work.

  • avatar

    Friggin’ sedans. Too many decent looking hatches have fallen prey to an inefficient trunk. Bah!

  • avatar

    I just watched a top gear episode last night where Richard Hammond drove a 3 cylinder TDI Polo 750 miles on a single tank of gas from Basel, Switzerland to a town in the UK.

    But who doesn’t like 2.5l inline 5’s! I predict 30 mpg highway!

  • avatar


    Don’t be too sure about getting 70mpg in a polo as this article from a sexy, British lass wrote about, once upon a time….

  • avatar

    None of the small-car companies is able to sell sedan versions of their small cars anywhere in the world. Small cars needs hatches to utilize the cargo volume better. VW became successful with the advent of the Golf since the hatch was a genius idea to sell small cars to almost everybody. 99% of their Golf/Polo sales in Europe are either hatch or Wagon. What makes them think a sedan is a good idea besides desperately trying to copy Toyota for the good and bad.
    And the few people that buy VW in the US want a EUROPEAN car, American cars can be had at every dealership in this country.
    Good, as long as Honda sells the Fit we still have a small car that actually is useful… and reliable. How can a car company have so good products, and be so wrong about marketing?

    I have a 2007 Mazda 6 Hatch and recently talked to the dealer about why Mazda doesn’t offer the Hatch anymore. He didn’t know either since they sold pretty well. Especially since the Sedan Mazda 6 has to compete with Camry, Accord… the hatch was free from competition.

    If they try to learn from Toyota, don’t they know that the old Corolla wagons have much less depreciation than the sedans? Grrrrrr
    I bet they don’t get the quality either.

  • avatar

    I just don’t understand why anyone would prefer a sedan to a hatchback in a car this size.

  • avatar

    If people are willing to pony up the dollars for direct inject with turbo motors in the USA, then you’d have direct inject with turbo motors in showrooms today. But as it stands, only those some higher-margin premium small cars and some larger sedans have that powertrain choice since their higher margins make it reasonable to offer a more premium powertrain.

    The majority of shoppers in the B-segment want a super-cheap-bargain price and that means companies are going to offer super-cheap-bargain cars. In the absence of a displacement tax, then a regular I4 lame-o-engine is the most reasonable choice. There just aren’t enough people in the USA who would happily pay more to drive a small car with a fancy powertrain. If you want a small car with a Turbo-4-DISI go get a MazdaSpeed3.

  • avatar

    Typical VW. They couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery.

    VW already sells a car over hear that is a little bit bigger than a Polo — it is called the Golf (aka Rabbit). We don’t need a second one. We do need a Polo.

  • avatar

    I just don’t get sedans. Particularly small sedans – such a comical trunk size!

    When we moved to the USA, we brought home two trolleys full of stuff from Ikea in our Rabbit in one trip. That would have been three car loads or more likely a home delivery if we’d bought the Jetta. Sedans are so space inefficient as well as being fugly.

    VW needs their head read. The Ford Fiesta hatch and VW Polo hatch would be different and tap into a different market.

    Prediction: Polo sedan will fail. It’s just too fugly, too useless, and too pricey when compared to the Rabbit, which will only be slightly dearer.

    And at least the Rabbit is built in Germany. Not that is saying much – according to JD Powers, the New Beetle (built in Mexico) has been consistently VW’s most reliable vehicle.

    VW let themselves down constantly by cheaping out on $10 parts, like window regulators, blow off valves and coil packs. If they had bought the $11 part, they would have a better reputation.

  • avatar

    I’m not a big fan of sedans, particularly compact/subcompact sedans. However, the hatch looks pretty dang good to me, considering the competition will be the Yaris, Fit, Aveo and Fiesta, I think this Polo certainly has the right aesthetic feel; premium subcompact, quite nice.

    Lot of haters in here, but man do I get excited when the subcompact market grows – more competition = more fun little cars with great fuel economy & snappy handling.

  • avatar

    It seems VW is very much considering going from a niche automaker (in the United States) to a much more mainstream automaker. Volkswagen seems a little confused about how to do that.

    It is hard to see how this will play out. There are so many variables.

    An inner voice wants the Polo to be small. Keep the Polo how it is. Then plunk a kickin’ diesel in there and call it good. If the size of the Polo is increased, then it will be closer to the size of the Rabbit. If that is the case, then they will change the shape (probably to resemble the Honda Fit).

    If the Polo was small, it would be unique and probably weigh less. If it had a nice kickin’ diesel it would be fun. If it was fun to drive and good for the environment THAT IS A TOTAL SETUP FOR A BRILLIANT MARKETING CAMPAIGN. FUN, GREEN, UNIQUE and CHEAP. Would sell like crazy especially if it is emphasized that it is better to drive than a Prius (not to mention much cheaper).

    A little Polo sedan? Could the world use a fun, tossable, crazy little diesel sedan? Sure it could! Why not? Make it cheap with a nice high quality torque plowing diesel engine. Toss it around the corners. Save the environment. Amaze onlookers. All that.

    What will probably happen is that the (US) Polo will end up cheap, conformist with a not really fun engine. Though we shall see…

  • avatar

    I actually don’t mind a sedan. They usually weigh less and you get more structural rigidity. Screw cargo. The only cargo I’m interested in hauling is my own ass.

  • avatar

    I would be concerned if there were a mechanical problem. View my VW experience at:

  • avatar

    KatiePuckrik, I once squeezed 69.7 MPG from my TDI Jetta, so I’m fairly confident I could beat that in a Polo.


  • avatar


    VW seems to be doing a great job of becoming a mainstream US automaker: they’re churning out me-too wannabes that nobody wants, instead of selling cars that people would actually be interested in buying.

  • avatar

    Is it time to give up on VW? I was excited to hear about the Polo when it was recently announced. Now with this news, I think VW is hopeless. VW needs to remember that there are a lot of fans of European vehicles that buy their products in the US. If I buy a VW, I want to buy a European car that just happens to comply with outdated DOT lighting standards and NHTSA crash standards. I don’t want a car that’s been Americanized in any other way to try to appeal to everyone.

    I bought my Jetta in 2003 because it wasn’t a POS GM product, and it wasn’t a boring Honda or Toyota. It was different, and it was the only affordable passenger car that came with a diesel engine. If VW seriously plans to bring over a Polo *sedan*, then I’ll just have to keep my Jetta even longer, which will result in them not selling a new car to me. I hope the MPV thing is decent, but I doubt it. I’ll reserve final judgement for when I actually look at one on a lot, but as it is now VW makes me want to cry.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    More importantly, why go with the cheap Hecho-En-Mexico approach when it prevents the US Polos from offering the real jewels of VW’s small-car portfolio: high-tech engines like its direct-injection, turbo- and super-charged 1.4 TFSI.

    Why would that be?
    Jettas and Golf wagons are made in Mexico with single- and twincharged 1.4 TSI engines, then shipped to Europe.
    The Jetta is available in Europe with a naturally aspirated 102hp 1.6, a turbocharged 122hp 1.4 TSI, a turbo- and supercharged 160hp 1.4 TSI, a turbocharged 200hp 2.0 TSI, multiple kinds of 105hp TDIs including a Bluemotion version, the 140hp 2.0 TDI and the 170hp 2.0 TDI.

    The 1.6 gasser is available with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed Tiptronic
    The 1.4 gassers and 1.9 diesels are available with an optional 7-speed DSG.
    All 2.0 gas/diesel engines are available with an optional 6-speed wet-clutch DSG.
    Bluemotion is 5-speed manual only.

    All of these are hecho en Mexico. So why wouldn’ being made in Mexico prevent the installation of modern engines in the Polo?

  • avatar

    Is the “Polo Plus” actually the “Cross Polo” sold in Europe? I’ve seen that on the street, it seems a decent car.

  • avatar

    ConejoZing :
    March 16th, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    It seems VW is very much considering going from a niche automaker (in the United States) to a much more mainstream automaker. Volkswagen seems a little confused about how to do that.

    No need for confusion:
    CR red dots ==> mainstream

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @hazard :
    Is the “Polo Plus” actually the “Cross Polo” sold in Europe? I’ve seen that on the street, it seems a decent car.

    The Cross Polo is just a normal Polo with a lifted suspension and different bumpers. (for that stylish SUV look) No larger body, and there is no Cross version of the new Polo yet.

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