By Nick Aziz
Tuesday, Mar 3rd, 2009 @ 5:10 am
 
Volkswagen has revealed its next-generation Polo hatchback, which will be launched at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The 2010 model will enter production in June, according to the automaker. Earlier this year, Volkswagen America CEO Stefan Jacoby indicated the Polo would be offered in the United States and Canada for the first time ever, starting with the redesigned 2010 model.



It's not clear exactly when the Polo will come to America, but VW development chief Ulrich Hackenberg made it clear in a January interview the German automaker is ready to capitalize on increased demand for small, efficient cars.

"The small-car segment is the fastest growing segment in the U.S.," Hackenberg told Automotive News. "Oil prices will rise again and that will drive small car sales up further."

VW has announced the ambitious goal of increasing its sales to around 800,000 in the U.S. annually over the next decade. The low-price Polo would certainly add to that bottom line - at least VW hopes.

"With our European heritage, we are used to compact and subcompact cars. We are working right now to upgrade these cars for the American market," VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby said.

VW is quick to point out the new Polo's improved safety, which will undoubtedly be important to American buyers. The car is reportedly achieves a five-star rating under the new EuroNCAP safety standards. The higher structural rigidity of the Polo's bodyshell contributes to these results. In the footwell area alone, intrusion in a frontal crash is reduced by 50 percent. In the case of a side impact, the intrusion was reduced by 20 percent, the company says.

In addition, car is equipped with standard ESP electronic stabilization program with Hill Hold Control, plus a slew of standard airbags, including combined head-thorax airbags (integrated in the front seatbacks). Other highlights include belt tensioners and belt force limiters plus seatbelt warning indicator and head restraints that counteract the risk of whiplash injury. Curtain airbags to protect rear passengers are optional.

Despite significant improvements throughout, VW reduced the car's overall weight by 7.5 percent. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is available, and several engine choices will be offered in Europe, including four gasoline and three diesel models.

VW chose to highlight just two of the new motors, both of which are likely candidates for the U.S. market. The new 1.2-liter TSI model has a twin turbocharged four-cylinder direct injection gasoline engine that produces 103 horsepower and delivers fuel economy of 43 mpg. The 1.6-liter TDI diesel mill delivers 88 horsepower and 62 mpg, making it the lowest emitting five-seater diesel in the world, according to VW.

Options that Polo drivers will be able to order on their new Volkswagen include static turning lights integrated in the front fog lights, (from "Comfortline" up), side curtain airbags (head airbag system for front and rear passengers), radio and radio-navigation systems and integrated hands-free telephone systems. A panorama sunroof and bi-xenon headlights will follow at a later time.

Live photos from Geneva