The Volkswagen Polo Vivo was launched to much fanfare in March this year – take a look at the star-studded launch at Sun City. Since then the Vivo has been topping the monthly passenger vehicle sales charts, selling 2 546 units in May 2010 alone. There’s good reason for this, you can now get a Volkswagen Polo from R101 500. Yes, it’s more expensive than the Citi Golf it replaces, but then you’re getting a lot more car for your money.
First off, it’s easy to dismiss the new Vivo as simply a rebadged Mk4 Polo, which it is, but, and it’s a big but, 70% of what you see on the Vivo is completely new. Behind the scenes Volkswagen South Africa have invested over R1 billion in their local manufacturing facilities and supplier parks to bring the Vivo to market at a competitive price. Not only has this benefited the pockets of Vivo buyers, but it also ensures the car’s longevity in terms of replacement parts at similarly low prices.
To set it apart from the Mk4 Polo, the new Vivo has received a number of changes to the exterior styling. These include new bumpers front and rear, with a redesigned front grille combination bringing the car in-line with the modern look of the Volkswagen range. Other subtle changes include the removal of the rubbing strips on all sides of the car, as well as the side indicators having been relocated from within the side mirrors to inside the headlight cluster.
Inside the Vivo offers a solid feel for a car of its class. A soft-touch dashboard, faux-leather covered steering wheel and comfortable cloth trimmed seats offer a pleasing tactile element to the little VW. If you play spot-the-difference compared to the previous Polo, you’ll find there are no under-seat storage trays, no grab handles and just a single cup holder ahead of the gear lever.
There is however, still a storage tray under the steering column and below the cubbyhole, a fair amount of space within the door pockets and two cup holders available to rear passengers. These storage areas also have a rubber mat so your ‘goeters’ don’t roll around unnecessarily. The boot will hold 270-litres, or 635-litres with the fixed rear bench seat folded down. A nice feature is that of the steering wheel’s height and reach adjustment, but the driver’s seat felt a bit too high and can’t be lowered, which took some getting used to.
Being an entry level model, the Vivo is a bit more ‘raw’ when compared to the previous generation Polo it is based on. When you open the boot, the black painted metal of the rear bench seat stares you in the face, the floor of the boot is no thicker than a piece of cardboard and underneath it, the spare wheel, tools and jack are crudely stored with a cheap looking strap. Likewise there is no trim covering the bare metal on the interior of the rear hatch and the same goes for the four passenger doors. This lack of insulation also means the engine note intrudes slightly more than expected into the cabin. But despite these perceived shortcomings the Polo Vivo endeared itself to us.
The buzz from the little 55 kW engine gave our test car some character and we enjoyed the aural feedback from our throttle inputs. With just 132 N.m of torque available at 3 600 r/min the Vivo needs to be kept ‘on the boil’ via the 5-speed manual gearbox. Not much happens below 2 000 r/min, but once into the rev range the Vivo is quite nippy around town and hums along comfortably at our national speed limit on the open road.
The suspension offers as comfortable a ride as one could expect from a budget car. The small 14-inch wheels and tyres feel every bump, but the suspension has enough dampening and travel to shield you from the worst. Body roll is noticeable in the corners, as is the lack of lateral support from the seats, but the Vivo handles well and the steering is light and satisfactory.
Standard equipment includes an immobiliser, airbags for the driver and front passenger, a rear window wiper and full-size spare wheel. Our test car was fitted with an optional alarm with remote central locking. The system automatically locks the doors when pulling off and unlocks them again when you remove the key from the ignition, with the exception of the boot. It proved slightly annoying having to return to the cabin to press the unlock button on the dashboard, each time we stopped and needed to get access to the boot.
Other optional extras fitted to our test car included an air-conditioner, radio/mp3 player with 4 speakers, ABS and metallic paint. These extras bring the price as tested to R124 300. There are plenty of worthy competitors at this price, but few can match the combination of space, performance and build quality offered by the Vivo. Sure, the real value lies with the more entry level 1,4-litre Vivo models and if your budget extends past the R125k mark, you’d be wise to consider your options in terms of specification levels for your money.
The Vivo’s uniquely South African story certainly gave us a sense of VW’s ‘people’s wagon’ heritage, but regardless of this, the entry level Vivo offers reliable and affordable transport from A-to-B.
What We Like…
- The proudly South African nature of the Vivo.
- The build quality.
- The vocal and free-revving 1,4-litre engine.
What We Would Like…
- The boot to unlock with the doors as part of the central locking system.
- A height adjustable driver’s seat.
|Base Price||R109 900|
|Warranty||3 year / 120 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||1 398 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, In-line|
|Power||55 kW @ 5 000 r/min|
|Torque||132 N.m @ 3 600 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 12.9 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||171 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.2 l/100km (claimed combined)|
Price includes a 6-year Anti Corrosion warranty, with service intervals due every 15 000 km. A 5-year/60 000 km Automotion Maintenance Plan and Service Plan are available as options.