Volkswagen Polo, this is a vehicle which is now very familiar on our roads. This is attributable to the fact that the Polo and its sibling, the Polo Vivo, are the highest selling passenger vehicles in the country. Before we explore the reasons for the Polo doing so well let’s start off with a brief history of the car, which may surprise a few people.
Production of the VW Polo actually started in 1975 with the first generation produced from 1975-1981. Between 1975 and 2018 there has been a total of 6 generation of Polos. This may sound strange to many of us South Africans as we only started seeing and knowing of the Polo from the mid 1990s. This is because this was the first time we received a car badged as a Polo. And, here is where it gets interesting , in the mid 1990s South African consumers could buy a hatch back or sedan Polo. However, this was not an actual VW Polo. The Polo that were sold to the South African market in the mid 90s till 2002 was actually a Seat Ibiza mark 2 which was rebadged and marketed in South Africa as a Polo. In actual fact during the 90s up till 2002 the Polo that was in production was the Polo mark 3 which we did not get in South Africa. I recall a friend from Swaziland driving one of these and being told he had a fake Polo in South Africa mean while it was actually an actual Polo as opposed to our Ibiza.
The production of the fourth and fifth generation Polo then took place between 2002 and 2017 which were sold in South Africa and did quite well in capturing the love of Mzansi folk.
After a successful run for its predecessor the sixth generation Polo has big shoes to fill! With production of the fifth generation having started in 2009 it was definitely time for something new. See, the fifth generation Polo is a car I’m very familiar with, it’s a car which I drive on a daily basis. It is a brilliant little car and I struggle to fault it anywhere. Honest, reliable and wallet-friendly motoring every single time you fire it up.
Now, the all new Polo, I arrive in Port Elizabeth were there media launch would be held and I finally lay my eyes on it in person. My initial thoughts, I like how it looks. It was one of those few times when it comes to a new car where you like how it looks from the get go. Usually you have to first “warm up” to a car. This was a fantastic looking car. I was told that it is lower and wider than its predecessor and that was indeed the case and the best part is that it is immediately noticeable. The design loses a lot of its edginess and has more of a somewhat round look, but it works. VW is one manufacturer that applies the principle that if it is not broken do not fix it. So I had been worried that it will be more of the same thing. But gladly I was wrong. This definitely looks new. But, I have to admit that when looking at it, it did not quite give me the goose bumps I got when I saw the new Tiguan for the first time, what a brilliant looking car the Tiguan is. Aesthetics are very important to us at MzansiRides and the new Polo gets a nod from us in that department.
When it comes to wheels its available with an assortment of wheels dependi
ng on the trim you have opted to purchase. You can get it in Trendline, Comfortline, Highline, beats and R-line. The Trendline comes with steel 14 inch wheels. The comfortline comes with 15 inch wheels and you have a choice between two at no extra cost for either. Both the beats and Highline come with 16 inch wheels while the R-Line comes with 17 inch wheels.
Now, we finally have the opportunity to have a drive in the Polo, I pair up with Rob Diering from The Torque. We immediately secure a beats trim. The beats trim is certainly the one which is intended to attract the younger ‘cool’ crowd. The car we had was black and has stripes going over its body from the bonnet backward. I’m not particularly a fan of these ‘go fast’ stripes but I also do not mind them much.
Entering the cabin of the Polo it becomes immediately evident that there is a lot more space. Now, one of the main things that make the beats trim what it is, is the sound system on board. It has a 300w sound-system designed by beats, a US company founded by Music Producer Dr Dre who is credited with being one of the people that founded hugely successful rapper Marshal ‘Eminem’ Mathers. So it definitely comes with a big name and ticks all the cool boxes. But is it any good? We connect a cell phone to it via bluetooth which is really quite easy. And, yes! The sound is fantastic. This is thanks to an amplifier as well as a subwoofer to carry all those low notes. And best part is the subwoofer is hidden next to the spare wheel well in the boot and you still get a full size spare wheel.
Now the interior, the infotainment system and everything else is new and looks great. When seeing the interior of the beats in pictures I really did like the red touches and it looked quite nice. In reality however, this is not the case. The dashboard has three colors! Three contrasting colors at that. There is a dark grey, followed by a red and then a very light beige-type of colour and add the fact that the steering has parts with a black piano style finish. This was just too much. The car we drove was black, so if this car were to be in any other colour, you can imagine all of these colours coming together. Mess! The great news is the other trims do not have this and you can get them in a much more dignified and elegant looking dark grey which goes beautifully with the piano finish touches on the steering wheel.
That light beige looking colour dominates much of the front and it looks very prone to dirt so that’s something to consider, especially for someone with kids. What disturbed me the most about the interior was the fact that the doors did not have any cloth. We have become accustomed to cars having a touch of the material that is used on the seats on the door panel especially around the handle area. Cars with leather have the matching leather there, those with cloth have the matching cloth on the door but this was not the case here which is really disappointing.
The Polo range (apart from the GTI) is offered in a 1.0 turbo engine which is either 70kw or 85kw. Our beats version was the 70kw variant with a five speed manual gearbox. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this car doing very well both in city driving and on the highway. It has enough torque to allow one to change lanes quickly as well as overtaking. Down at the coast it definitely was not sluggish at all and I think it would be also impressive at high altitude. When purchasing a Polo one would look for economy and the 70kw model is great for this. While its certainly not a fast car, you will not be holding traffic either.
Interior comfort is great, ride comfort is just as great having driven over some bumpy Eastern Cape roads it ironed all the bumps pretty well. Cabin level noise was really fantastic too – very quiet -, so if you’re one of those that lie to your significant other that you’re at work when you’re actually driving to places you shouldn’t be, this is the car for you as you wouldn’t even have to stop the car to talk. It is as quiet as your office. However with the fantastic sound-system on the beats version I doubt it will ever be quiet.
The new Polo will be locally produced for the South Arican market and even better South Africa is producing all the right hand-drive Polos for exportation so every right hand-drive sixth generation Polo in the world will have South African roots. This is something we are really happy about as the MzansiRides family.
So now finally, would I purchase the new Volkswagen Polo? The answer is ABSOLUTELY! It’s a brilliant little car, which is not so little anymore. I would not buy one in the beats trim simply because of the interior. Our choice would be the 70kw 1.0 TSI Comfortline with the manual gearbox, At R264 000 you get a lot of car for your money as well as VW’s proven reliability record and those all so important street credit points which owning a VW always gives you.
1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline R 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R 264 700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R 280 700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R 286 200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R 302 200
The new Volkswagen Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.