Rally competition isn’t over for the Volkswagen Polo, despite the Wolfsburg marque’s exit from the World Rally Championship – which it dominated from 2013 to 2016, winning both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles four times on the trot. The German manufacturer has just launched the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, a customer rally car which will gain FIA homologation in mid-2018 and a race debut a few months after that.

Based on the sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo GTI, the Polo GTI R5 is powered by a 1.6 litre turbocharged inline-four engine with direct injection producing 272 PS and 400 Nm of torque, channelled to all four corners by permanent four-wheel drive via a close-ratio five-speed gearbox. The Polo GTI R5 tips the scales at 1,320 kg and does the 0-100 km/h run in 4.1 seconds, says Volkswagen.

Development of the Polo GTI R5 has been conducted since the beginning of this year, with initial tests on gravel and asphalt conducted in Fontjoncouse, France in November. Testing will continue in Great Britain this month, led by technical director François-Xavier Demaison and Jan de Jongh, who was race engineer for Sébastien Ogier’s Polo R WRC.

“The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems. The feedback from the test drivers was very positive,” says Demaison. “It is obviously beneficial to be able to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world championship.

“We are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015,” Demaison added.