The 2015 World Rally Championship is set to kick off in Monte Carlo next week, and Volkswagen is out to defend its title as reigning champion. Its weapon of choice is this new Polo R WRC.
The updated rally racer is based off of the brand’s European-sold subcompact that comes in three-door and five-door hatch configurations as well as a sedan. It doesn’t change much from the previous year’s winning vehicle ( if it ain’t broke,.. etc.), apart from a new livery and a hydraulic six-speed sequential gearbox that can now be operated by paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Those parts that did carry over were carefully scrutinized to see how they could be made lighter and stronger.
The Polo R’s engine gets a little bit of a power increase, allowing its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine to produce 318 horsepower over the previous 315 hp. This is done with the help of a turbocharger and direct injection. Given enough room, the Polo R WRC can top out at 124 mph. That power is delivered to its permanent four-wheel drive with an equal torque split between the front and rear axles, with limited slip differentials on the front and rear axles.
Volkswagen will have three cars running through the season, which will begin, as mentioned, with the Monte Carlo Rally on the 22nd. Like Formula 1’s Monaco Gran Prix, this rally is one of the most prestigious, with stages taking place through some of the oldest cities on the Côte d’Azur as well as passes through the alps like the Col De Turini. If that name rings a bell, it was the first stop on the journey taken by Top Gear in their search for the ultimate driving road. As challenging as it was, they had it lucky since they didn’t have snow to contend with. We look forward to see the battle Volkswagen and the other contenders have ahead of them.