After more than three years of rumors, Volkswagen has acknowledged that it is considering bringing a subcompact car to the US market in order to compete with other small car offerings, such as the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. Earlier this week, Stefan Jacoby, president of Volkswagen Group America told The Detroit News, “We could imagine having a car like the Polo in the United States.”
The German automaker would by vying to capture a piece of America’s fastest-growing automotive segment, driven primarily by consumers’ desire for fuel-efficient alternatives in a period of fluctuating gas prices. Jacoby said, “We need to get more into the sweet spots of the market.”
The Polo is a three- or five-door hatchback that is more concise than Volkswagen’s Rabbit or Golf. It is most comparable in size to the Honda Fit. Powerplants range from a 1.4-liter diesel to a slightly larger 2.0-liter gas engine. A US version of the Polo could get an entirely different motor.
Official details are not yet determined, but the Polo could also get a whole new name, as well as a facelift, to distinguish it from its European counterpart. “Specific styling would almost certainly be changed, as well as certain interior features which set American buyers apart from those in Europe,” a Volkswagen spokesperson told HybridCars.com. “But that’s all speculation until the company actually commits to bringing this car over.”
Combined fuel economy would need to be at least in the low 30 mile-per-gallon range in order to take on the subcompact competition. And, of course, price will be a large factor in determining sales success. Volkswagen is generally known as a pricier brand, as seen with its US passenger cars, the Passat and the Jetta. Both have stickers that are 10 to 20 percent higher than other cars in their class.
The subcompact strategy—the Europeanization of American roadways—is being employed by many carmakers. Volkswagen’s acknowledgment that it’s considering joining the trend is the first step, but whether VW follows through or not will be unknown for some time.