Cheapened but still classy: We test VW's new Polo Vivo
The new Polo Vivo continues a tradition that’s been a winning formula for Volkswagen SA - and other carmakers for that matter - ever since the Citi Golf hit the streets back in the mid eighties, with its bright Mondrian colours that made it a must-have accessory alongside the leg warmers and mullets that we like to laugh about today - and with good reason.
The Citi went on to outlive all those fashion atrocities, sticking around until 2009 and featuring in many a young-and-stupid adventure or shenanigan (insert appropriate or not-so-appropriate story here). Fast forward to 2018 and we have the latest Polo Vivo flying the entry level flag for VWSA.
It might not be quite as funky, nor anywhere near as affordable as its spiritual ancestor - although it is significantly safer and more sophisticated - but its maker has stuck to the basic modus operandi of relaunching a recently-superseded product (whose tooling and development costs are now theoretically paid for) at a more affordable price.
Amortisation is your friend, and don’t you ever forget that.
While the previous Polo Vivo was based on the fourth-generation Polo, the ‘new’ Vivo is essentially a relaunched fifth-generation Polo - first introduced in 2010 - and it’s a fine platform to graduate to, given that it was SA’s Car of the Year in 2011 and even in its dying days was still widely regarded as the cream of its class.
But bear in mind that the reduced pricing (the new Vivo has a starting price of R179 900, versus R229 600 for the last-gen Polo) is down to a lot more than just paid-off plant machinery.
For starters the TSI engines that were standard across the Polo range have made way for older-generation normally aspirated 1.4- and 1.6-litre carry-overs from the previous Vivo, at least in all but the top-dog Vivo GT, which gets an 81kW 1-litre TSI.
Most buyers are likely to opt for the 1.4-litre models which cost under R200 000, and which produce 55kW in the entry Trendline model and 62kW in the Comfortline.
VWSA sent us a mid-range Highline, powered by the familiar 1.6-litre engine that’s rated at 77kW and 153Nm. It’s mated to a solid-feeling, smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox, although you can opt for a 1.6 Comfortline auto if you’re tired of clutch-in, clutch-out.
The 1.6 is a free-revving engine that has a pleasant, if slightly old-school throatiness about it that reminds me of some of the later Citi Golfs. Our test car drank 7.8 litres per 100km in mostly urban driving, which is not brilliant, but performance is certainly on the decent side, even at altitude.
On the flipside, it can be a bit noisy and at highway speeds there is a definite boominess penetrating the cabin, which brings us to another method VWSA has employed to save money - they’ve apparently removed some of the sound-deadening material. Exactly how much, they won’t say, but the car is a bit louder than is ideal at highway velocities. That’s said, it’s something I’d be willing to live with at this price point, and the same goes for all the other cost cutting measures.
None of the Vivos have electrically adjustable mirrors, for instance, so you now have to adjust them manually via stalks. The electric windows no longer have a one-touch function, the inner door armrests are now clad in hard plastic rather than cloth and gone are the large chrome-rimmed cowls that previously cloaked the speedo and rev counter. Open the boot and you’ll see exposed black-painted metal rather than carpeting on the rear seatbacks, which looks a bit tacky.
Thankfully VW has retained that beautifully crafted, slush-moulded soft-touch dash, and - in Highline and GT models at least - it still has plenty of satin chrome garnishing to break up the grey monotony.
It might be missing a few trimmings here and there, but the cabin is still a class act at this price point. VWSA hasn’t cut ergonomic corners either as the steering wheel on all models is still adjustable for both reach and height, while all but the base model feature steering controls and height adjustment for the driver’s seat.
Rear legroom is a little on the tight side, but the boot is decent by class standards, swallowing 280 litres according to VW.
All Vivos get an audio system with Bluetooth connectivity as standard, but the Highline and GT get the six-speaker ‘340G’ touch-screen interface complete with App Connect. The system pairs easily with modern phones, and displays the content in an easily legible manner.
As for safety, the Vivo loses the previous Polo’s side airbags, but retains the obligatory front bags and ABS brakes, while 1.6 and 1.0T models get traction control and tyre pressure monitoring as standard.
There’s little to tell it apart from the previous Polo in exterior design terms, apart from minor alterations to the front bumper, grille (now single-slat) and taillights, while the indicator repeater lights move from the mirrors to the front fenders and there are some new wheel designs.
Sure, VW has cut costs here and there, yet most of the good stuff that made the previous Polo a class act is still there and pricing is spot on. The latest Polo Vivo offers a comfy ride, smart cabin and, in 1.6-litre form at least, it’s actually quite fun to drive. All considered, this is easily the best value-for-money new car in its class right now.
New Volkswagen Polo Vivo Maxx quietly goes on sale in SA…
When the latest-generation version of Volkswagen’s budget hatchback hit the market in South Africa in February 2018, the Polo Vivo Maxx derivative was nowhere to be seen. Now, however, this cross-hatch variant has quietly arrived at local dealers.
While the Polo Vivo Maxx is not yet (at the time of writing, anyway) listed on VW South Africa’s website, we do know that it is offered at R225 000, about R5 000 less than VW’s initial indicative pricing suggested.
The Vivo Maxx employs a naturally aspirated 1,6-litre petrol engine worth 77 kW and 153 N.m, linked to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
In addition to its black-plastic body cladding and faux skid-plates front and rear, the newcomer boasts a raised suspension (by 15 mm), 17-inch alloys (shod in 215/40 rubber), roof rails, aluminium-effect side-mirror caps, sports pedals, a special carpet set, sports front seats (with model-specific cloth trim) and “Maxx” decals.
Standard safety features include ABS (with discs up front and drums at the rear), driver and front passenger airbags, Isofix child-seat anchors, an alarm with central locking and an immobiliser. The standard warranty covers three years or 120 000 km while service and maintenance plans are available as options.
Polo to the Maxx: Volkswagen SA adds an up-sized Vivo to its range
Polo, Polo Vivo... Volkswagen expands its best-selling car range with the addition of a new beefier up-sized version - the Maxx. In 2017 the Polo Vivo, which is manufactured at the Volkswagen South Africa’s plant in Uitenhage, sold over 22 000 units.
In 2018, the Polo Vivo has already sold over 11 000 units since launch of the second-generation model in February. The Maxx is only offered in the hatch body version and boasts a number of exterior and interior features.
Polo Vivo Maxx is powered by a 1.6-litre 77kW engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The exterior features include 15mm raised suspension, 17" ‘Canyon’ alloy wheels, silver coloured exterior mirrors, Maxx lettering on the tailgate and sides, sporty single-pipe exhaust system with chromed trim, and aluminium roof rails.
In the interior, Polo Vivo Maxx has sport pedal clusters, centre console in coloured trim, on-board computer, front electric windows, manual aircon, 3-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel with aluminium insert, colour touch radio with SD/USB/Bluetooth/App Connect and 6 speakers, as well as loose lay carpets mats.
In terms of the safety features, the Polo Vivo Maxx comes standard with driver and front passenger airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Tyre Pressure Monitor, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, front fog lights as well as an immobiliser, interior ultrasonic alarm with motion sensor and central locking.
New Polo Vivo Maxx - Price and waranty
1.6-litre 77kW - R225 000
The new Polo Vivo Maxx is sold with a 3-year or 120 000km warranty and 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval are 15 000km. Customers can also tailor their package with the optional Volkswagen Automotion Maintenance Plan and Volkswagen Automotion Service Plan.
Volkswagen has expanded its recently-launched Polo Vivo range with a ‘Maxx’ derivative.
You know the drill by now… think previous generation Cross Polo reincarnated Vivo-style, with a high-value price tag.
It is positioned towards the top of the Vivo range, however, with a price tag of R225 000, and for that you get all the usual ‘pavement hopping’ mods, such as raised suspension (+15mm), side-body and wheel-arch mouldings in black plastic, aluminium roof rails as well as redesigned SUV-like front and rear bumpers with mock skid plates. The Maxx rides on slick looking 17-inch ‘Canyon’ alloy wheels.
The cabin is frilled up with unique upholstery and dashboard trimmings, plus sport pedal clusters.
Standard kit includes a leather-covered steering wheel, six-speaker colour touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth and App Connect, front electric windows and air conditioning.
The Maxx is powered by Volkswagen’s tried and trusted 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, credited with 77kW.
As for safety, the Maxx is fitted with dual front airbags, ABS, ESP stability control and a Tyre Pressure Mods. Points lost for missing curtain-level airbags, but points gained for having more active safety than you’d normally expect at this price level.
The Maxx is sold with a three-year/120 000km warranty. Service and maintenance plans are optional.