Volkswagen Polo Mk3

Volkswagen Polo Mk3 (6N)
Volkswagen Polo Mk3 (6N)
Also called
Volkswagen Derby
1994–2002 (Germany)
1996–2009 (Argentina)
Wolfsburg, Germany
Pacheco, Argentina
Body and chassis
Body style
5-door hatchback
3-door hatchback
4-door saloon
5-door estate
Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Volkswagen Group A03 platform
Audi A2
SEAT Arosa
SEAT Ibiza Mk2
SEAT Córdoba Mk1
Volkswagen Lupo
1.0 L I4 (petrol)
1.3 L I4 (petrol)
1.4 L I4 8-valve (petrol)
1.4 L I4 16-valve (petrol)
1.6 L I4 8-valve (petrol)
1.6 L I4 16-valve (petrol)
1.4 L I3 TDI (diesel)
1.7 L I4 SDI (diesel)
1.9 L I4 D (diesel)
1.9 L I4 SDI (diesel)
1.9 L I4 TDI (diesel)
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
2,407 mm (94.8 in) (hatchback)
2,444 mm (96.2 in) (sedan, wagon)
3,715–3,743 mm (146.3–147.4 in) (hb.)
4,138 mm (162.9 in) (sedan, wagon)
1,632–1,655 mm (64.3–65.2 in) (hb.)
1,640 mm (64.6 in) (sedan, wagon)
The Volkswagen Polo Mk3 is the third generation of the Volkswagen Polo supermini car and was produced from 1994 until late 1999 and some models in 2000. It was available in hatchback, sedan and wagon body styles. It shared the same platform and initially a similar design as the contemporary Seat Ibiza (hatchback) and Seat Córdoba (sedan and wagon) models.
The hatchback underwent a major facelift in 2000, while the sedan and the wagon received only minor refinements. It now had a more different exterior and interior design than the also facelifted Seat Ibiza. In 2001, it was discontinued and replaced by its successor, the Volkswagen Polo Mk4, but it continued production in Argentina, where the sedan was facelifted in 2004, receiving the exterior design applied to the facelifted Seat Córdoba and the interior of the facelifted Volkswagen Polo.


1996 Volkswagen Polo rear view
The third generation Polo (known internally as the Typ 6N) was launched in September 1994, and was a completely new model/chassis from the old Polo, although early versions used the engines from the Mark 2. The Mark 3 was the first Polo to be made available as a five-door as well as three-door hatchback; these were built in 1995-1999.
Interior (pre-facelift)
The platform used for this model used a modified version of the floorpan of the Volkswagen Golf Mark 3, as did the SEAT Ibiza Mk2. A multitude of mechanical parts and all of the suspension components were intechangeable among the three models. Although the dashboard and a number of mechanical components, including engines, were shared with the Ibiza, outwardly the Polo models were entirely different with no body panels shared with the SEAT model.
Initially, only three- and five-door hatchback versions were available. In 1995, four-door saloon ("Polo Classic/Sedan/Derby") and five-door estate ("Polo Wagon/Variant") versions were added to the range — these were badge engineered versions of the SEAT Córdoba (the saloon and estate versions of the Ibiza). They were referred to internally by VW as the Typ 6KV, and shared body panels with the SEAT model rather than the hatchback models.
A convertible version was not produced, although a version with an electrically sliding full length sunroof, called the Polo Open Air, was available.


Initially the car was available with the 1043cc putting out 45 PS (33 kW; 44 hp), and the 1272cc putting out 55 PS (40 kW; 54 hp) engines from the previous generation Polo, along with a new 1598cc unit. A new 1.4L engine replaced the 1.3L in October 1995. In September 1996 the 1043cc engine was replaced by an all-new aluminium block multi-point injection 999cc developing 50 PS (37 kW; 49 hp). The Classic and Variant models featured a 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) or 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) 1.6L and a 64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp) 1.9L diesel. For the first time, a turbo-diesel engine (1.9L) was available in a Polo, although only in the 6K models. Due to its smaller engine bay, the standard 3 and 5-door 6N did not get a turbo-diesel engine until the facelift in 2000.

Trim levels

The Polo Mark 3 was much better equipped than its predecessor. A range of models featured items such as colour-coded bumpers, heated/electrically adjustable mirrors, four speaker stereo, pollen filters, central locking, rear head restraints, split rear seats, fog lights, alloy wheels, air bags and so on. The car was available originally in four trim levels ranging from the L at the bottom level of the scale through the CL and GL to the range topping GLX model.
In 1994, the Polo SE or Special Equipment was launched. Based on the 1.4 L it featured a number of features from higher spec models such as the GLX bumpers, Sport Rader alloy wheels, tinted rear light clusters and clear indicators. The Mark 3 came to the end of its production run in 1999 with another Polo Match.
Unlike the Volkswagen Polo Mk1 and Volkswagen Polo Mk2, trim levels were not the same across Europe; the United Kingdom's were L, CL, GL, GLX, 16v (later E, S, SE and GTi); models sold in Europe had trim levels which were individual to the country they were marketed in.


Sporting variants

Volkswagen Polo GTI 16V at the German Saxony Rally
Sporting variants were not introduced initially, and a supercharged G40 version of the Mark 4 was never made, but a GTI model introduced in 1995 catered for the hot hatch market. With a limited production run of 3000 units, the 6N GTI was available only in continental Europe. Featuring a 1.6 16V 125 PS (92 kW) version of the unit that would later be found in the Mark 3F model, the car came with 15" BBS alloys and could sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 9.1 seconds. The 16V, introduced to replace the GLX, was one of the most popular Mark 3 versions with modifiers, it used a 1.4 16V unit pushed to 100 PS (74 kW) as standard. This car was not a pure sporting model, and with a 0–100 km/h time of 10.6 seconds and a 190 km/h (118 mph) top speed, it was not as fast as the sporting Ibiza model (which used a 2.0 L 16V engine). The Polo GTI was often seen as over priced for the performance it delivered.

Polo GTI

2000 Volkswagen Polo GTI interior
Between 2000 and 2002 VW offered two sporting models, the 16V and GTI. The 16V came with the 1.4 16V 100 PS (74 kW) engine and had options such as 15" Spa alloys and air conditioning. However more interest was in the GTI. Available only in hatchback form, the GTI was powered by a 1.6 16V 125 PS (92 kW) engine with variable valve timing, making it the most powerful Polo to come out the factory to date. External changes gave the car the looks to match its power. Deeper front bumpers with honeycomb mesh inserts, side skirts, fog lights, a honeycomb mesh grill and 15" BBS split rims suited the car well. There were also standard extras such as Climatronic fully automatic air conditioning, Xenon headlights (with a headlight washer system), a 6 disc CD autochanger, exclusive sports interior with leather steering wheel and gearstick, chrome inserts and driver aids such as ABS with EBD and an EDL (a system to aid traction). Leather and satellite navigation were also optional extras. The Mark 3F Polo GTI however missed the new six-speed gearbox that was introduced in the smaller Lupo GTI.

Polo Harlequin

Multicoloured Polo Harlequin
Volkswagen Polo Harlequin
In Europe, a special "Harlekin" or "Harlequin" model was released in 1995. The Polo Harlekin was an unusual edition featuring a multi-coloured body with each panel in a different colour: Flash red, Ginster yellow, Pistachio green and Chagall blue. It used the same engines as normal Polos—only the colour of the panels was the difference. Originally limited to 1,000, around 3,800 of this series were produced. There were 2500 Polo Harlequins made in the UK between 1996 to 1998.


The Polo was facelifted in 2000 (internal designation Typ 6N2, unofficially known as the Mark 3F), with the hatchback models featuring updated styling including new headlights and bumpers and an all new interior based on that of the Lupo. Although the car was similar in appearance to the Mark 3 (the bodyshell was fully galvanised and stiffened but not fully redesigned, although some panels were changed), Volkswagen claimed that 70% of the components were new. Power steering, antilock brakes and twin airbags were made standard. The saloon and estate versions received the new interior, but not the full exterior facelift. Also, the three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDI engine was introduced for the three and five-door hatchbacks.
Specification options ranged from power steering, tinted glass, split rear seats, electric windows and cup holders to ABS, air conditioning, Xenon headlights and satellite navigation. Thirty-two models with seven engines ranging from the 1.4 diesel to the 1.6 L 16V GTI made the choice of Polo the widest ever seen. The base model was the Comfortline with the option of no less than 5 engines ranging from the 1.0 50 PS (37 kW) to the 1.9 TDI unit found across the VW range, producing 90 PS (66 kW). The 1.0 L hatchback was considered cheap for the build quality and spec list when compared to other cars. Then came the Trendline and Highline models. With engine options ranging from 60 PS (44 kW) to a 110 PS (81 kW) diesel they offered a range of features usually found on the more sporty models but without the insurance or running cost woes.


  • 1999 Used Car Buyer Greatest Used Car Buy Awards Best Economy Car
  • 1998 Top Gear Magazine Top Cars - Best Supermini
  • 1997 Which? Magazine Best Buys - Best Supermini
  • 1997 Auto Express New Car Honours - Best Supermini
  • 1997 Complete Car of the Year Awards - Best Supermini
  • 1996 Semperit Irish Car of the Year
  • 1995 What Car? - Car of the Year

Outside Europe


Argentine facelifted Polo Classic
In some Asia Pacific markets, the Polo Classic (1995-2002MY) was sold as the Derby.
In China, FAW-Volkswagen simply rebadged the SEAT Cordoba without the exterior modifications of the European Derby (i.e. rear and front bumpers/headlights). It was sold & assembled as the FAW-VW City-Golf during 1996. It is not to be confused with the Canadian Mark 4 City Golf released in 2006 in Canada.

Latin America

In Argentina, Volkswagen produced the Polo Classic, which was sold as the Derby in Mexico, and the Volkswagen Caddy, a SEAT Inca-derived van, which shares the same platform and front end styling as the Polo Classic. The Polo Classic (Typ 6K) and the Caddy (Typ 9K) have been produced since 2000. All the facelifted models are Argentine-built models.
Latin America had its own trim levels, although some of the trim level names were similar to their European counterparts. The CL and GL were available from 1996 onwards in Brazil; these were similar to their European counterparts, although slightly more expensive due to import tariffs.

Related models

  • The SEAT Ibiza Mark 2 was based on the same platform as the Mark 3 Polo, as were the SEAT Inca and Volkswagen Caddy panel vans.
  • The South African built Volkswagen Polo Playa was a rebadged version of the SEAT Ibiza Mark 2, and was sold instead of the European Polo in South Africa until the introduction of the Polo Mark 4.
  • The Volkswagen Lupo and SEAT Arosa city cars were based on a shortened version of the 6N platform, and shared many components.

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Last updated on 24 March 2015 at 14:44.

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