The VW Polo started life as an Audi? Say what?

Jerrica · Dec 24, 2019 10:32 AM

Volkswagen Polo were rebadged Audis

Audi did not start off as the luxury car brand that we know of today. Back in the 60s, before the Audi started competing with luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Audi was rolling out affordable cars like the small hatchback Audi 50.

Which… Volkswagen later took and rebadged into the Volkswagen Polo. Say what? But it’s true! The first Volkswagen Polo introduced to the world back in 1975 was actually a rebadged Audi 50.

1974 Audi 50

Audi 50 3-door hatchback launched in 1974

This is because when Volkswagen decided that it was time to start adding more variants to their model line-up, they were initially reluctant to dip their fingers in the small car market. Believing that the Beetle is the smallest they should go.

So instead of spending the resources in R&D to create a car smaller than the Beetle, they decided to pick up the Audi 50 that was introduced in 1974.

First generation Volkswagen Polo 1975

First generation Volkswagen Polo in 1975

The Audi 50 was sold only in Europe, and was already considered by motoring bandits to have arrived late to the small car game. Nevertheless, Volkswagen still jumped into the fray in 1975 with the 3-door Polo.

At the time when both cars were sold alongside each other, the Polo was marketed as a more basic variant of the Audi 50 though there were very minor differences between the two cars.

Volkswagen Polo Malaysia spec

Though it is not stated in any of Volkswagen’s or Audi’s history books, but the decision for VW to rebadge the Audi 50 into the Polo could stem from Audi’s planned transition into larger and more luxury cars as well.

Because the Audi 50 was only sold from 1974 to 1978 before the model was axed, that’s a very short period of existence for a car. While the Polo went on to sell 500,000 models by 1979 and enjoyed 6 generations of updates.

Volkswagen Polo Malaysian spec

As of yet, the sixth generation has not arrived in our markets, but we predict its arrival to be soon based on VW’s right-hand drive market behaviour; Singapore started sales of the car in 2018.

But meanwhile, let us enjoy the last of VW’s conventional gearbox in the fifth generation Polo still on sale in Malaysia.



There isn’t a time in memory that doesn’t involve staring at cars. After discovering the excitement of watching Schumacher vs Hakkinen, Formula 1 became a major part of life. The love for cars and F1 ultimately led to a job with CAR Magazine. The untimely death of the magazine meant a hiatus from cars at lifestyle women’s magazine Marie Claire before another opportunity came knocking again.


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