With the likes of Ford's rally-spec Fiesta in its sights, Volkswagen is gearing up to introduce a fire-breathing version of its Polo onto the World Rally Championship stage.
The Polo R will begin competing in the 2013 WRC series. It will have around 220kW at its disposal, produced by a specialised version of Volkswagen's 1.6 litre TSI engine.
A four-wheel-drive system will help the Polo R charge through the mud and gravel, although Volkswagen has not offered any details on this system - or whether it's related to the Haldex technology used in the roadgoing Golf R.
The Polo R's 1.6 litre engine is also perfect for new WRC rules that come into effect this year, prescribing engines with direct injection, turbocharging and a maximum displacement of 1600cc.
"The new Technical Regulations of the World Rally Championship are an ideal fit for Volkswagen's philosophy with respect to the development of production vehicles," said Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Management Board of the Volkswagen Brand, Development Division.
"The timing of the WRC debut is optimal for Volkswagen. The big task of engineering a vehicle that is competitive and capable of winning at a large number of challenges holds great appeal for us."
Volkswagen is no stranger to rally, either: its rally-spec Touareg team has now taken three consecutive victories in the world-famous Dakar Rally.
"We can draw on an experienced and proven squad which has done an outstanding job in top-calibre sport in the past few years," Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen said.
"Even though the WRC is new territory for us and involves learning in many areas the team already meets some important prerequisites now as it brings an unwavering professional attitude and resolve to deliver absolute perfection to this commitment."
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