VW Is Making a Stripped-Down, Beefed-Up Polo Just for Farmers

Farming takes all kinds—even little, cheap hatchbacks on raised suspension.

When you think of farm vehicles, your mind likely goes to big tractors and pickup trucks first. And for good reason, as those sorts of vehicles are largely what farmers need. But sometimes, all that’s required is something small and inexpensive that can haul you, and maybe some tools and supplies, across a field. So welcome the new Volkswagen Polo Robust, a lifted subcompact hatchback for Brazilian farmers.

The Polo is one of VW’s smallest, cheapest cars and it’s typically used as an economical city and suburban runabout for single people or small families. The idea of off-roading a Polo would normally be absurd. However, throw some heavy-duty shocks on it, give it an easily cleanable interior, and stick in a manual gearbox for good measure and you’ve got yourself a decent little farm vehicle.

Admittedly, Volkswagen is far from the first automaker to come up with such an idea. Fiat made small, off-roading hatchbacks most famous with the Panda 4×4 in the early ’80s. Even the original Citroen 2CV, which launched in the 1940s, was a small, economical hatchback designed for farm-duty. Hell, the Polo Robust isn’t even the first small lifted hatchback in modern Volkswagen Group history, as Audi had the A1 Citycarver a few years back. And of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the Golf Country.

However, the Polo Robust is especially interesting because it’s made specifically for work duty. To that end, it’s smaller, simpler, and cheaper than anything else in its class, in an increasingly complex modern world. With its 1.0-liter naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine, making an anemic 84 horsepower and 75 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed manual, there isn’t much to the Polo Robust. It isn’t even all-wheel drive, despite its off-road leanings. It’s a simple, honest, affordable workhorse.

The eternally rad 1990 Volkswagen Golf Country. Volkswagen

That combination of cost and capability is such an oddball idea in this market that it’s hard to imagine any other company doing it, especially in the ‘States. Can you imagine if Chevy made a Sonic for farm duty? Or if Honda jacked the ride height up on the Civic hatch? Now that I think of it, both would be awesome, and those companies should give them a shot.

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