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This wide-bodied bad boy is the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, a four-wheel drive customer rally car that has been unveiled in Mallorca.
Based on the sixth-gen Polo road car, the R5 draws on Volkswagen Motorsport's invaluable know-how which has seen the team win four World Rally Championship (WRC) titles from 2013-2016. Initial tests have taken place on asphalt and gravel in France during November, with more development work scheduled for December in the UK. Francois-Xavier Demaison, Volkswagen Motorsport's technical director, and Jan de Jongh, project manager and world champion Sebastien Ogier's race engineer for the Polo R WRC from 2013-2016, are the men in charge of creating the R5.
The R5, like the forthcoming GTI road car, has a four-cylinder turbocharged engine with direct injection, but regulations limit it to 1.6 litres, when the showroom Polo will sport a 2.0-litre motor. However, the road-going GTI is unlikely to match the R5's mammoth outputs of 272hp and 400Nm, all of which goes to the corners of the car via a close-ratio five-speed racing gearbox. At 1,320kg, Volkswagen Motorsport says the GTI R5 will hit 100km/h from rest in just 4.1 seconds.
Further, the R5 uses a four-door, steel chassis which is built at the production facility in Pamplona, Spain, and FIA specifications dictate it is fitted with a rollcage and further safety components. Volkswagen Motorsport hopes to homologate the GTI R5 by summer 2018, with the first deliveries to customer sports teams - and its first competitive outings - due in the latter half of the year. R5, remember, was created in 2012 by the FIA to allow rallying to be semi-affordable at a level below the WRC, and since then more than 400 cars have been produced by five different manufacturers for use in events all over the world.
"The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems," said Demaison. "The feedback from the test drivers was very positive. 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. And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, 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 Skoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015."