The VW Polo Vivo is the most popular passenger car in South Africa and has been for a few years now. It’s fairly simple to understand why – the Polo Vivo is a B-segment hatch that is relatively affordable, well-appointed and wears a VW badge. That’s the short answer of course but it seems to offer a peace of mind at this price point that we can’t argue with.
Pushing the envelope of choice, style and product packaging, the Polo Vivo Mswenko is yet another choice in the popular range now consisting of 6 cars in the range. The Mswenko, as its name suggests, is supposed to be a snazzier alternative to the vanilla Polo Vivo Comfortline on which it is based.
It is certainly a touch more eye-catching with easy-on-the-eye ‘Mswenko’ decals along the bottom of the front doors. VW has then thrown in some charcoal 16-inch alloys and then chosen to only offer the Mswenko with a black roof and body colour in Grey, Blue, Silver or White metallic colours. It looks good enough and those stickers aren’t as garish or overt as you may think. Chrome exhaust tips your thing? VW has done it for you so no road side shopping and fitting required.
Welcome to the bright side! The interior is louder than a standard Comfortline with bright yellow, blue and grey pews. This is the really big change here but VW has also upgraded the radio/infotainment unit to essentially one that has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Apart from that, the processing speed is slower than you may like but remember that you’re in a Polo Vivo.
There are some very small touches to the trim itself but the rest is pure Vivo as you may know and that means an easy to use, uncomplicated cabin that feels a generation old (which it is) but also feels absolutely familiar to the touch. The obvious absenteeism of electric mirror adjustment was disappointing but this is only available on the Polo that retails for far more money.
For a very nominal fee, you can get carpet mats and extra storage bins and a cigarette lighter if you like but at R2 100 you could also add the Cruise Control function which I’d recommend immediately. Cruise Control on a small B-segment hatch at this price is a must have.
A familiar 1,4-litre NA petrol mill does work here. With a 5-speed manual transmission again, it’s so easy and slick to drive. It will be a welcome offering to a first year varsity student as it would to a Mom of teenagers.
It drives competently and feels solid for this range of car. I’d also recommend you opt for the ESC and Hill Start that are offered for R2 700 extra. ESC should be standard fare in my opinion but they’re not making it totally unreasonable at this price. Just get it.
You have to consider that you’re driving a car that has literally been around for more than a decade now, so yes, you will find cars that sound more quiet or drive with more refinement but don’t forget that those cars cost more money. The Polo Vivo Mswenko behaves best when zipping about and doing the everyday things.
If you’re looking for a frugal budget beater, then Polo Vivo is that car. I easily managed a sub 6l/100km and I wasn’t really trying. I was concerned about the naturally aspirated engine struggling for power especially up in Joburg, but that never proved to be an issue. 63kW and 113Nm was ample and usable.
It just works well, drives well and feels like the car that will take the beatings and scratches and loads and day to day stuff that will be required of it.
The VW Polo Vivo Mswenko is the more expensive of the segment. It is a price steeped in perceived product quality, brand trust and a large network of dealers and availability and cost of parts, not to mention strong resale values and demand. This makes a strong case for the VW buyer.
But Hyundai, Renault, Suzuki all offer longer or better service and warranty plans where VW offer these are options to purchase above the price you see here.
If you are adding in all the suggested options, then perhaps you should be looking at something like a small SUV which offers a touch more practicality if anything? There are a few of these running about at very decent pricing, in fact quite on par with this Mswenko. Something to consider? No because you're looking for swag aren't you?
Polo Vivo Mswenko isn’t as swanky/swaggy as the name may suggest – on the exterior that is. Step inside and it is a little more flashy that you may expect but while I would be weary about keeping seats like that clean, some might call them cool. I can't fault the aesthetic and tech additions if you're in the market.
With extra stuff from the Comfortline yet still under R250 000, the Polo Vivo Mswenko will probably make its way to many homes as another option to offer buyers. The phone mirroring alone may just be enough.
Other than these extras, the car remains as trusty and easy to drive and use as before and that's a good thing anyway.