Triple whammy from Volkswagen as it begins the battle to hold on to No.1 spot
First Irish drive: Polo, T-Roc and Tiguan Allspace
Polo, T-Roc and Tiguan Allspace are rolled out in one fell swoop.
After coming top of the sales league for 2017, Volkswagen have burst onto the 2018 scene with a triple whammy of new cars in an early drive to be number one again.
In one fell swoop this week they unveiled the new Polo supermini, T-Roc medium SUV and Tiguan Allspace (five- and seven-seater).
I'll give you some details later but for now it might be opportune to say something about each.
For me the Polo is the outstanding car. It might be more expensive than the SEAT Ibiza but after a short drive here in it this week I came away hugely impressed.
The T-Roc SUV looks the part, drives the part but is short on rear-seat space, though there is a decent boot. It's a €25,000 car that people will spend €30,000-plus on (VW say their special 'packs' are becoming hugely popular and cost a lot less as an ensemble that the sum of their individual parts).
And then there is the Tiguan Allspace. It is longer than the existing Tiguan so you get more boot space if you opt for the 5dr and a third row of two (toddler) seats if, as most people will, you go for the seven-seater (costs €770 more than the five-seater).
That must be the snappiest review of three cars in existence. More at a future date.
Now down to the nitty gritty: the price, engines and some spec details.
The Polo engine line-up includes a 1-litre petrol with outputs of 65hp, 75hp, 95hp and a 2-litre 200bhp GTi. Diesels, later, comprise a 1.6, 80hp and 95hp.
Prices run from €16,795 for the 1.0 65hp Trendline. The 75hp version costs €17,350; 1.6 TDI 80hp €20,195; 65hp Comfortline €18,695, 75hp €19,295, 95hp €21,995, 1.6 TDI 80hp €21,995, 95hp €24,550;
The 2.0 TSI 200hp GTI, here in May, will cost from €32,395.
The Polo is an entirely new car, comes only as a 5dr and you can mix and match colours, and some spec packs. It is 81mm longer, has a 94mm longer wheelbase and a bigger boot (up 71 to 351 litres). In other words it's as big inside now as the old Mark III Golf. It also looks a good deal better than the old model.
Optional is the Active Info Display which replaces the traditional analogue speedometer and driver cluster with a high-res 10.25in focus. There are infotainment systems of up to 8in and digital interfaces for smartphones.
Depending on model, there is Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and LED headlights.
Standard spec includes Bluetooth, 6.5in radio system (four speakers), multi-function display, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and Pedestrian Detection.
There is a special Polo Launch Edition with air con, cruise control and proactive passenger protection for an additional €800 over Trendline.
Comfortline spec is the one most people are likely to buy. It starts from €18,695 and adds 15in Sassari alloys, cruise control, 8in 'Composition Media' radio system with six speakers, App Connect, two USB interfaces and air con.
Engines above 90PS can have a dual clutch gearbox (DSG) instead of a manual. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) and semi-auto Park Assist are options.
The T-Roc crossover is 4,234mm long (252mm shorter than the Tiguan) with a 2,590mm wheelbase, is 1,819mm wide and 1,573mm tall. Funky and chunky I'd call it.
It's another in an ever-growing line of VW SUVs: next is the Touareg, a smaller T-Cross and then the electric I.D. CROZZ.
This one has a spread of driver/safety assist systems (Front Assist with Emergency Braking and Lane Assist are standard).
There are three engines initially: 1-litre TSI 115bhp petrol, 1.5-litre TSI 150bhp, and 2-litre 150bhp TDI diesel. More are due including a 1.6-litre115bhp TDI.
Prices start from €24,750 for the 1.0 TSI 115bhp. The 1.5 TSI Evo 150bhp DSG costs from €28,450.
Other examples include: 115bhp Design €26,995; 1.5 TSI Evo 150bhp DSG Design €30,650; 1.5 TSI Evo 150bhp Sport €29,750; 1.5 TSI Evo 150bhp DSG Sport €31,650; 2.0 TDI 150bhp 4M Sport €34,795; 2.0 TDI 150bhp 4M DSG Sport €36,695
Meantime, the Tiguan Allspace comes at a time of serious demand for seven-seaters. They expect 750 to buy one in a full year of supply.
There is a 1.4 TSI 150hp, a 2.0 TDI 150hp and a 190hp 4M (all-wheel-drive) 240hp.
The five-seat versions cost from €34,050 for the 1.4 TSI 150hp Trendline; the 2.0 TDI 150hp costs €36,350; the 2.0 TDI 150hp Comfortline is €38,895, DSG €40,495, 150hp 4M €42,095, 4M DSG €43,750. The 2.0 TDI 150hp 4M Highline starts at €42,050 (4M €43,650, 4M DSG €45,250).
Critically, the most-likely big-demand seven-seater versions cost €770 more.There are styling differences between it and the existing Tiguan five-seater - radiator grille, lights, roof (rails standard).
With five people on board, the luggage capacity on the Allspace model increases by 145 litres to 760 litres. Maximum cargo capacity is increased for the 5-seater by 265 to 1,920 litres.
It is 215mm longer (4,701mm) and has a 109mm longer wheelbase than the standard Tiguan (2,681mm v 2,787mm).
When the rear bench is slid forward by its maximum 180mm adjustment, the car can take up to 760-litres of luggage. Second row knee room is up 54mm.
In the seven-seater, with the third row in use, there's 230-litres of luggage capacity.
When not in use the two rear seats can be folded into the floor.
And if you fold the second row luggage capacity increases to 1,775-litres.
The front-wheel-drive versions can tow trailer loads of up to 2,200kg depending on engine; all-wheel-drive increases this to 2,500kg.
All in all it is a significant start to the year given that Volkswagen haven't been in the small SUV segment before; nor have they had a seven-seater of Tiguan size. And the Polo is a vast improvement.
However, many rivals either have, or are planning to have, big product spreads too.
So it all should mean ever-widening choices for buyers.