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DRIVEN: Joining the Volkswagen Polo Vivo pack

2018-03-18 00:00

Melinda Ferguson

Stand back South Africa for the brand new Polo Vivo and Polo. Picture: Supplied

Port Elizabeth - I’ve always prided myself on being someone who didn’t follow the crowd. Great thinkers and writers have inspired me along the way in my quest for non-conformity. "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect," said American author Mark Twain. The great humanitarian, Mahatma Gandhi famously said: "It’s easy to stand with the crowd; it takes courage to stand alone."

I was understandably a little withdrawn initially at the back-to-back launches of the new Polo and Polo Vivo, South Africa’s top two bestselling passenger vehicles for the past seven years. Usually when the majority like something, I reverse for the hills. But after driving both cars across different Eastern Cape landscapes, oh how my anti-follow-the-crowd impulses were thrown into disarray.

Let’s start with the new Vivo. Since its introduction to the local market in 2010, a whopping 194 000 plus units have sold. Built at the multibillion-rand VW Uitenhage plant, the new Vivo is packed with German build quality, superior safety, premium comfort and space. To top all that is its under R200 000 entry-level pricing.

I was impressed to discover that the new Vivo, which comes in three equipment lines – Trendline, Comfortline, and Highline – is based on the brilliant fifth-generation Polo. Design-wise it’s sharper in the front and rear and exudes substantial exterior and technical enhancements. These include plenty of driver assistance and safety and a fabulous new infotainment system with a colour touchscreen standard on the Highline.

There’s a new TSI engine, giving the Vivo added power with a six-speed manual transmission gearbox.

At the launch in and around Plett, I got to test the 1.4 litre entry-level Vivo with 63kW power and 168Nm, a super impressive ride; the 77kW 1.6 litre auto triptonic, an absolute dream to drive; and then the range-topping GT, brandishing 81kW of power and 200Nm of torque. Ooh la la.

The GT got under my sport-loving bonnet. Powered by an impressive 1.0 turbo-charged engine, its unique styling includes GT lettering, sports seats and pedals, and a rear spoiler, which combine to give the GT a unique racy vibe, with cruise control as standard. There are plenty of options to heighten the spice, including Vienna leather seats.

A few weeks earlier, I got into the equally impressive Vivo’s big brother, the new Polo, one of the world’s bestselling cars, with over 14 million units sold to date. The sixth-generation Polo is longer, lower and larger than its predecessor, with increased boot capacity of 350 litres.

It’s packed with class-leading standard equipment including park assist, blind spot monitor, a multi-collision braking system and gorgeous LED headlights. And if that’s not enough, it’s the first Polo with digital instruments and premieres the impressive second-generation active info display.

Like the Vivo it’s available in the three aforementioned equipment lines. But there’s more for the sporty lovers by way of the R-Line package with side sills, a boot spoiler, rear diffuser and kick-ass 17-inch Bonneville alloys. If you’re into your sound, you’ll love the Polo Beats package with trendy interior design options and a whopping 300-watt Beats sound system courtesy of Dr Dre.

The range-topping Polo GTI will be available locally in the second half of the year. Give me a Vivo, give me a Polo – I am so ready to join the pack.

Prices

New Polo Vivo 1.4 55kW Trendline

Price: R179 900

New Polo 1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline 

Price: R235 900

Visit the new VW Auto Pavilion in Uitenhage

Uitenhage may be tiny but, in many ways, it’s the economic hub of the Eastern Cape, with the gigantic Volkswagen manufacturing plant putting it firmly on the international commercial map. Visit the Auto Pavilion – also known as The Place of Cars and Legends – to discover the history and evolution of one of South Africa’s best-loved car brands.

It’s one of just five automobile discovery centres in the world, with high-tech equipment, prototypes, record-breaking VWs and interactive displays, all housed in a state-of-the-art design pavilion.

  • Where: 103 Algoa Road, Uitenhage Call 041 994 5941 for more info
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