A Small Appreciation of a Small Estate

Further to our Aygo review yesterday, DTW presents this small reminder that once it was a simple matter to make an estate version out of an existing vehicle.

1997 VW Polo estate
1997 VW Polo estate

Here is the 1997 VW Colour Concept Polo estate. I like its vertical tailgate and utter lack of pretension. Such a car could do excellent service as either a practical second car for grocery and kid collection or else serve as a primary family car if the kids were still small. Finally, for Mr and Mrs Retired, it could get them around the country visiting the children and grand children without incurring big fuel bills. And there’s room for the Labrador in the back. Form is following function here and I like that.

To my slight amazement, there’s a whole website devoted to Polos.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

2 thoughts on “A Small Appreciation of a Small Estate”

  1. There’s the distinct feeling that this, and the Mazda 121 saloon from the mid 90s mentioned elsewhere, are the answers to a question nobody asked. But it’s a question they should have asked. The Mazda offered 4 doors, a big sunroof, a reasonably decent and secure boot, all in a very compact package – I remember The World’s Best Car Magazine predictably gave it to the only female member as a long-termer. A Fiat Panda is a fine choice, but the upper part of a small hatchback is of little use and the boot is tiny. A Mazda 121 format car would actually suit a lot of people but it isn’t recognised as a permissable choice. Also it is NO FUN! The same goes for a dinky estate like the Polo which, even if the seats match the outside paint, just TAKES ITSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!

  2. Of the two cars, the Polo estate (and its sibling the Cordoba estate) seemed like a product people wanted. I noticed lots of these both in Ireland and Germany in the period 1995 onwards. The Mazda 121 was much less of a success though I offer respect to Mazda for trying it out.
    This whole question of a very small hatchback turns on how you view the package. You can say that the Panda is two seat car whose cargo area can either mainly hold people or mainly things. As such, the buyer knows they can either move two passengers in the back seats or else fold the seats down and move a lot of things. The fact there is a residual boot when the rear seats are in use is just a bonus. I think this binary condition would be far clearer if the cars were designed so that seats-down was the default state. So, mostly the car would have only two (front) seats and a load bay. If you needed to carry some people you´d pull the seats up into position. Then the residual boot´s tiny size would not seem like a problem.
    The Polo estate here offers a very neat package that makes the space allocation 50/50 by default. It´s really admirable and I can only cast stones at marketing people and narrow minded automotive journalists for underestimating their worth. Presumably sex sells and these cars are not sexy. If you have the choice of a group test of three beefy sports cars or three small estates, no conventional editor would devote a week of labour to testing three small estates. So, they never get the coverage. I don´t suppose they were advertised much either.

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