Jacked-up VW Golf could be test mule for the upcoming Polo SUV

The idea of a Volkswagen Polo SUV has been making its way through the rumor mill for some time now. Then, at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, we laid eyes on the 2016 Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze Concept. The T-Cross Breeze Concept debuted in drop-top form, but Volkswagen made it clear that the concept served as a teaser for its first compact SUV as well as a new design language that will found on future VW models.

We know Volkswagen has been working on the next-generation Polo, and there have been test mules hitting the streets wearing the best camo there is – the body of a different model. Specifically, the mules have been wearing the body of a three-door Volkswagen Golf. Our spy photographers have caught another mule masquerading as a three-door Golf, but upon closer inspection, we don’t think this is another Polo mule. Instead, this mule has a lifted suspension, which leads us to believe this is a test mule for the Polo SUV that will be based loosely on the T-Cross concept and sit below the Tiguan in Volkswagen’s SUV lineup.

Since this mule is pretending to be a Volkswagen Golf on stilts, we can’t look to it for many hints of what the future compact SUV will look like, but we still have a few things to talk about regarding this model. Until we get some shots of Polo SUV with its real body intact, let’s dive in and talk a little about what we expect.

Update 08/172016: The Volkswagen Polo SUV has finally been caught testing with a real body. It has lots of camo, but it does help give us an idea of what is to come. Check out the exterior section below to see the spy shots and learn all about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Polo SUV.

Spy Shots

August 17, 2016 - Volkswagen Polo SUV caught wearing its production body

2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV
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2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV
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2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV
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April 5, 2016 - First mule caught testing

2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV Exterior Spyshots
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Exterior

I’ve got to say that it is nice to finally see the Polo SUV in its true form and not just a jacked up polo on stilts. There is a ton of camo, so we can’t make out much of the body, but it’s definitely a four-door SUV. It looks like it will sport wrap around headlights up front with driving lights positioned just below them on the corners. Th hood looks to sit somewhat elevated, but that is likely padding that is meant to throw us off. Based on the layout of the front body wrap, expect there to be a large grille up top and a fairly large air dam below it.

The side view mirrors actually look to be rather sleek. At first, I thought they were attached to the fenders, but on closer inspection, the arms simply mount at the very front of the door. They have a unique design overall that should be welcomed when it drops the camo. We can’t make out any body lines of the side profile for sure, but it looks like there will be a smooth line that runs from the headlights to the taillights and a bit of bubbliness down on the side skirts. The rear doors are camouflaged quite well, but look to terminate about half way over the rear wheel well. This means the lower portion of the door will follow the contour of the wheel well.

The rear has a pretty interesting look to it, but there is a lot of padding here too. Even with padding, it’s clear that the rear hatch will have a pretty steep grade to it, and will have a near flat edge below the window before rolling over and becoming more vertical below the taillights. At this point, there are dummy taillights and reflectors in place but expect two piece units. The portion on the rear quarters will likely wrap around while it looks like there may be a light bar that runs the width of the hatch. The rear fascia looks to be pretty smooth aside from the recess for the plate, but if I was a betting man, I would say that there will some character lines pop up down there by the time the camo comes off.

Interior

Even if our photographers were able to get shots of the test mule’s interior, it wouldn’t have told us anything about the upcoming Polo SUV. But, we can look to the current Polo model and the T-Cross Concept for hints. In comparison to the current Polo, expect to see similar door panels and a similar center console. We do have something more interesting to talk about, though. Remember the BUDD-e concept and the digital instrument cluster it had? Well, the T-Cross concept has a toned down version of that.

With that in mind, we’re expecting the interactive HMI to be an integral part of all next-generation VW models, which means the new Polo SUV might debut with a two-screen instrument cluster layout like that seen in the T-Cross Concept. It will be revised a bit from what we see in the T-Cross concept, but you at least get the general idea. I wouldn’t expect the Polo SUV to lose the physical shifter or boast touch panel buttons when it finally makes its debut, but it should me more technologically advanced than the current Polo models.

Drivetrain

2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV Exterior Spyshots
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The mystery of what will be hidden under the Polo SUVs hood has yet to be solved, but that’s no surprise at this point in the testing phase. The current Polo has a range of engines, including a 1.0-liter gasoline engine that produces 93 horsepower, a 1.0-liter TSI that produces 108 horsepower, a 1.2-liter TSI that produces 88 horsepower, a 1.4-liter TSI that produces 147 horsepower, and a 1.8-liter TSI that produces 189 horsepower.

It’s quite possible that some of the engines from the current Polo will be used in the Polo SUV, but there is still a while to go before we see the model actually hit dealerships. That means that VW has plenty of time to develop some new engines, or retune something from its inventory to give the Polo SUV its own little bite in the SUV market. Expect a range of gasoline and diesel engines, and if the engine lineup from the current Polo carries over to the SUV, expect them to be retuned for a little more power and torque.

The most recent information available suggests that the next-gen Polo will ride on VW’s MQB platform, which suggests the Polo SUV may be as well. That said, the biggest question is whether or not the Polo SUV will come equipped with an AWD system. We’ll just have to wait for more information to come to light for that one, so stay tuned for future updates.

Prices

With the test mule masquerading as a Volkswagen Golf right now, even thinking about pricing is a little farfetched. We do know the Polo SUV will sit below the Tiguan in the SUV lineup. With the Tiguan starting out at $24,890, and the Polo starting out at just over $16,000 at current exchange rates, expect the Polo SUV to start out somewhere around $19,000 and move up from there. The range-topping model could go for as much as $27,000, given VW’s current pricing strategy.

Competition

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Honda HR-V rides on the same underpinnings as the Honda Fit and has been sold in Japan as the Vezel. Here in the U.S., the HR-V went on sale in May of 2015 as an all-new 2016 model. Despite having the same underpinnings as the Fit, the HR-V is very different. By the time the Polo SUV hits showrooms, the HR-V should be due for a facelift that will bring it in line with the latest technology available at the time.

In current form, the HR-V is offered with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that delivers 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Over in Europe, however, the HR-V is offered with a 1.5-liter that produces 128 horsepower and 114 pound-feet or a 1.6-liter diesel that offers 118 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The HR-V can hit a 60 mph sprint in 10 seconds with the diesel or 10.2 seconds with the 1.5-liter mated to an automatic transmission.

At the time of this writing, the HR-V starts out at $19,215 with two-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Pricing increases all the way up to $25,990 for the range-topping EX-L trim level with all-wheel drive, navigation, and a CVT transmission. As you can see, it should be a good competitor for the Polo SUV.

Read our full review on the Honda HR-V here.

Mazda CX-3

2016 - 2017 Mazda CX-3 High Resolution Exterior
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After a lot of waiting, here it is folks: the 2016 Mazda CX-3.

The CX-3 is the smallest offering from Mazda in the SUV market. In the U.S., it is offered with a 2.0-liter, SKYACTIV-G, four-cylinder that produces 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. That 2.0-liter comes attached to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift and sport modes.

Over in Europe, the CX-3 is available with a SKYACTIV-G, gasoline-powered unit that produces 118 horsepower or a 103-horsepower SKYACTIC-D diesel. When equipped with the gasoline-powered mill, the CX-3 comes with the options of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The diesel-powered CX-3 is offered only with the six-speed manual.

The CX-3 currently starts out at $19,960 for the base Sport trim, climbs to $21,960 for the mid-range Touring trim, and tops out at $24,990 for the range-topping Grand Touring trim. Prices are of course before taxes, options, and delivery, but should remain about the same by the time the Polo SUV hits showrooms.

Read our full review on the Mazda CX-3 here.

Conclusion

2019 Volkswagen Polo SUV Exterior Spyshots
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With the Tiguan being the smallest offering from Volkswagen, it’s no surprise that the German brand is looking to add a smaller SUV to its lineup. The biggest problem is that the competition in the subcompact SUV segment is stronger than ever with models like the Mazda, CX-3, Honda HR-V, Buick Encore, Nissan Juke, and even the Jeep Renegade ready to give the Polo SUV a serious run for its money.

If Volkswagen is looking to be successful with this model, it’s got a lot more to worry about than its public image. Volkswagen needs to put some serious effort into the Polo SUV if it will ever succeed, and that means it needs to bring something completely new to the table. If it gets lazy and opts to throw a Polo body on stilts, the new SUV is going to fall flat on its face and move as fast as a turtle stuck on its shell. Good luck, Volkswagen. The waters here in the Subcompact SUV segment are about as deep as it gets.

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    • * Really early in the testing stage
    • * May not be available with AWD or 4WD
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