When Polo refreshed

the car market

Volkswagen Polo Mk 1, 1975-1982, side
Volkswagen Polo Mk 1, 1978
Volkswagen Polo Mk 1, 1975
Volkswagen Polo Mk 1, 1975-1982, rear
Volkswagen Polo Mk 2 Coupe, 1982-1994
Volkswagen Polo Mk 3, 1995-2000
Volkswagen Polo Mk 3, 1995-2000, rear
Volkswagen Polo Mk 2, 1982-1994
Volkswagen Polo Mk 4, 2000

AS GERMANY raises glasses to the annual Oktoberfest, it is perhaps appropriate to salute what I believe is one of its most significant automotive products.

The Volkswagen Polo may not be greeted with the same amount of reverence as its big brother, the Golf, but it is without doubt one of the icons of small car motoring.

The Polo bounced in during 1975 and was a real game changer.

For a start, small cars of the time were rather cheap and cheerful, but here was an element of pocket premium that made the market sit up and take notice.

It sold in Europe and other markets worldwide over the years in hatchback, sedan and estate versions and clocked up five generations, such was is popularity and pull among those who firmly believe that small is beautiful.

And it netted the World Car of The Year award in 2010 just to underline its enduring charm.

The bodystyle has been varied through the life of the car, originally as a hatchback which derived from the Audi A50. One of the variants was a saloon sold in the UK as the VW Derby.

It has been sold worldwide in places such as South Africa, China, Latin America and Japan where it complied wiih that country's strict dimension legislation.

And in true VW style there were fast versions, including the early GT and the later GTI model.

I well remember carrying out a road test on one of the first versions to reach UK showrooms. Bearing in mind this was a small car and was of limited performance in its entry version, I felt that there was a larger and much more powerful car trying to get out.

And the Polo indeed proved itself to have motor sport in its blood in a series of successes.

Its platform was souseful that it was shared among other VW group companies SEAT and Skoda.

The Polo features a transversely mounted engine and front-wheel-drive and early models only featured petrol powered options.

The Mark I Polo was available with 895cc, 1,093cc and 1,272cc power choices.

The car grew to hold its own against newer and more vibrantly dynamic rivals and proved the point that VW had got the whole concept right in the first place.

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