Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT review

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT

VW Polo Vivo GT

GT – the term evokes visions of past automotive glory in the sense of a roomy, performance, luxury car capable of high speed and long-distance driving. Probably a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement, historically. Think Aston Martin DB4, Maserati Gran Turismo, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT of 1929…

To test if the Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT qualifies as a real GT I packed it to the brim with camping gear and took it on a short road trip up the N7 via Piekenierskloof to the Jamaka Organic Farm in the Cedarberg. A good combination of mild mountain passes and long straights with a little twist in the tail.

The Vivo GT is based on the previous Polo range and has the same features as the Vivo Highline but with a few items fitted to justify the rather steep asking price. The GT also gets ‘Space’ cloth sports seats (although our test car had optional ‘leather’ seats), a rear tailgate spoiler, GT lettering wherever they would fit, a black side moulding, sporty single-pipe exhaust system with chrome trim, cruise control, lowered suspension (by 15mm), shiny ‘sport’ pedals and floor mats!

VW Polo Vivo GT on Piekenierskloof.

Optional extras on the test car included ‘Vienna’ leather seats (R9382), storage package (R2017) and smokers package (R252), which appears to be simply a lighter. The GT we drove costs R256 651 with optional extras.

You almost immediately realise that the Vivo GT has been built to a strict cost price target. It appears that where corners could be trimmed, they have been, especially the trim, if you get what I mean. As a result the car neither feels nor looks above average quality, to me. It drives OK though.

On tar, around town the GT feels nippy and handles well. The little 1.0 Litre mill does not like hills when fully laden and in sixth gear. But shift down to fourth and work the gears and you are soon moving along quite smartly if a little bumpily.

I found the suspension a little too aggressive and stiff for my personal tastes, but it certainly gives the car a boy racer feeling. Part of the ‘problem’ are the very low profile tyres. Young men will love it, probably.

Did it pass the GT test? I am not so sure. Does it pass muster as a budget Polo GTi? Probably. Just don’t go camping in the Cedarberg with all your outdoor kit. The car does not like gravel when loaded.

If you love VW and are on a budget you will be able to overlook the trim shortcuts. The basic car is well sorted and can be fun to drive. The ‘old’ Polo lives on in the new Vivo albeit slightly trimmed down. The interior though, still looks good from the driver’s seat.

Fuel consumption is very good and a sub 6L/100km can be achieved provided your right foot behaves.

Not a bad package but also look at the Highline, which I think gives much better value, good performance and a softer ride.

The Vivo range starts with the 1.4 55kW Trendline at R179 900, 1.4 63kW Comfortline at R192 000,
Tiptronic is R221 900, the smarter 1.6 77kW Highline starts at R214 900 and the base price of the 1.0 TSI 81kW GT is R245 000.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 6-year Anti Corrosion warranty.

A Volkswagen Automotion Maintenance Plan (starting at R7128 and topping off at R24 168 for the 5 year 100 000km option) as well as a Volkswagen Automotion Service Plan are available as options.

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Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Review

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline

Polo is big in SA. I mean the car, Volkswagen’s small car to be specific.

We get two broad versions of Polo here, the new model is called Polo and the previous Polo gets a little makeover and is a little stripped down to be called the Vivo. We will be reviewing the Vivo, but first let’s take a look at the new Polo, and concentrate on the Comfortline, which we drove.

Volkswagen Polo

The sixth generation Polo is the first Polo based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) A0 platform which has a 92mm longer wheelbase than the previous Polo (which is now the Vivo). The wheelbase, exterior length and width (by 69mm) have all grown while the car’s height remains nearly identical. This results in a sleeker look. And more space inside.

This new Polo looks really great inside and out. The styling department at VW has done a superb job, may I say, as always. It feels as big as a Golf 3 inside.

A new dashboard and cockpit layout puts this new model at the front of the pack, it is that good. A joy to behold.

VW Polo dashboard

Several dashpad colour trims are available; Limestone Grey Metallic on the Trendline and Comfortline, Deep Iron Metallic on the Highline and Velvet Red on the “beats” model which has a 300-watt sound system.

The dashboard and the centre console are slightly angled towards the driver.

This is the first Polo with digital instruments. The second generation of Active Info Display debuts in the new Polo. All key modules – except for the air conditioning unit – have been integrated on the upper cross-panel of the dashboard locating the infotainment system much higher than before into the driver’s direct line of sight.

This layout is excellent, and I can argue, class leading, but at a price.

In the top trims the new Active Info Display and the new 8-inch touchscreen are combined to form a modern, glass-encased functional unit.
The Active Info Display is an expensive option on the Comfortline and Highline models, though.

There are six packages, from the very basic Trendline, to the Comfortline, Highline, GTI, beats and R-Line.

The beats special edition is especially colourful and loud with, for example, the dashpad a hectic “Velvet Red”, a massive sound system by Dr. Dre.

In the Comfortline trim level, the Multi-function Display “Plus”, the Composition Colour infotainment system with six speakers, leather multi-function steering wheel, Driver Alert System and front and rear electric windows are included.

The swankier Highline gets additional features such as the Composition Media infotainment system, App Connect, Voice Control, Sport seats, Cruise Control with speed limiter and white LED ambient lighting (front doors and instrument panel).

New features for the Polo include the lane change system Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, semi-automated Park Assist system for exiting parking spaces, the proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function, but these are optional extras which can cost quite a lot.

The 0ptions fitted to the car we drove include the following: Front armrest (R1 412), cruise control (R1 815), smoker’s package (R251), App Connect (R1 513), voice control (R756), Active Info Display (R8 675) Composition Media (R3 026) with iPhone interface (R1 513), light and sight package (R3 883), Discover Media (R12 104).
Total of optional extras fitted to the car reviewed: R34 398.
Park distance control is an option at R4 690. Really?

The boot is quite a bit bigger than the previous Polo at 350 L. As a general comment you could say it is a big, little car. It feels spacious.

The smallest TSI ( 3-cylinder, 999cc) for the new Polo has an output of 70 kW (at 5 000 rpm)and 175 Nm and is standard for both the Trendline and Comfortline. Even at the coast you run out of steam quite quickly, so it will be best to go for the 85kW engine option.
VW claims 4,5 L/100 km. I think that is very optimistic. An 8km stretch I drove in town returned 11L/100km but expect around 6 L/100km on average if you do not push on.

The real cost of the Comfortline we drove is R299 098. A difference of R34 398 to the basic price as listed below.
Recommended Retail Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline R 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R 264700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R 280700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R 286200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R 302200
All Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan,
3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

Also look at the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Renault Clio. The Mazda 2 Individual, in particular, at R238 00 looks like a bargain in comparison.

Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

The X-trail has been a firm favourite for many years. And rightly so. It filled the niche and largely created the soft SUV segment, although it has now become a crossover.

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Stelvia at the beginning of January. Many people stared at the car as I drove past. Admiring the really beautiful lines of the Stelvia, which can be described as a work of art, on wheels. Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’. Especially men. They looked at the car and when they saw the badge they smiled, I suppose in approval.

Inside the X-trail is in its own way every bit as good as the Stelvia.

Nissan call it a crossover. No claims to real SUV ability. I like that, even though it has arguably more off tar capability than many “SUVs”. Nissan are a market leader and pioneer in this segment and it shows.
This new medium Nissan crossover has the class leading cabin and dash. Design, layout, equipment, materials, fit and finish are all top class in the range topping Tekna configuration, which I tested.
If you are looking for a premium crossover that offers comfort, versatility and smart technology, look no further. It is really that good.

I particularly liked the data display in front of the driver which has 7 different pages which you scroll through with a button on the multifunction leather steering wheel. The bigger display is only used for the maps, setting your radio and phone up, manoeuvring and cameras.

X-trail has the following new generation tech:
Blind spot intervention which alerts the driver to the presence of vehicles in blind spots diagonally behind the car.
Lane intervention which alerts the driver when it detects that the X-Trail is straying from its lane.
Cross Traffic Alert which can detect and warn the driver of vehicles that are approaching behind the X-Trail, especially when parking or leaving parking.
Emergency Braking which uses radar technology to keep an eye on your speed and proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and will alert the driver before engaging the brakes.
Forward Collision Warning helps alert drivers of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car.
Auto Headlights which automatically changes between high and low beams when it detects oncoming vehicles at night.
Around View Monitor with moving object detection – a support technology that assists drivers to park more easily by providing a better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Nissan X-trail

Nissan claims a combined consumption of 5,3 L/100km. I got about that on the open road, but a still very good, 7.6 L/100 km in general urban use including a trip to Onrus where I took the pictures. The 1.6 turbodiesel puts out 320 Nm, which means you have oodles of power, which combined with good road holding, a well balanced steering and a slick gearshift makes for a very good touring and town car. Why spend more to have a fancy badge on the bonnet? Did I mention that the seats are really comfortable over longer distances?

Even cats like the new X-trail

In addition the new X-trail is fitted with active trace control, active ride control, all the latest braking tech and a lovely suspension setup. You can even go a little off the beaten path. The car has 209mm ground clearance and 50/50 4×4 lock to get you over fairly gnarly routes, but it is not a hardcore offroader, although it will tackle small dunes with aplomb.

The boot, with the sears up holds 550 litres and a full spare. With the 60/40 seats flat at least double that. Space, in general, in this X-trail is generous. There is a 7-seat version available, but the additional seats are for GOT’s Tyrion Lannister and his ilk or primary school children, but you will have almost no boot.

The new Nissan X-Trail comes with Nissan’s class-leading 6-year/150 000km warranty, a 3-year/90 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assist.
Service intervals are at 15 000km and the new X-Trail is priced as follows:
2.0 Visia R 369 900; 2.0 Visia 7s R 374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R 392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R 425 900; 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R 429 900; 2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R 444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R 457 900 (which we tested)
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R 469 900
The best value is possibly the 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD at R 425 900.

The X-trail is bigger inside than most of its apparent price rivals, but also look at the similarly sized Suzuki Grand Vitara if you need real 4×4 ability, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota Rav4.

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.

Haval H6 Coupe review

The Haval H6 C ( the C stands for Coupe) fits into the medium-SUV (family car) category, which together with the small-SUV category are the fastest growing segments in the market. Its direct competition in size and space are Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Rav 4. Its price competitors are the smaller Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Mazda CX-3 to mention a few.

Haval H6 C

The H6 C has a little ace up its sleeve. Pierre Leclercq, the designer of the original BMW X5, penned the H6 C, which does not look derivative, but has proportions and a silhouette that appear sophisticated. You could say a bit of Audi up front, Evoque at the back and Ford Kuga in the middle. The car looks good and is well designed.

Haval H6 C interior

Inside the car looks quietly upmarket and smart in a subdued way and appears well screwed together, with the impression of quality and sophistication, both in the materials used and the way it has been put together.
The rear legroom is generous, the split seatback folds flat easily and the back seat has more space than its rivals with comfortable reclining seats, ISOFIX anchors, rear aircon vents, reading lights, and nice materials in the door trims.
Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
On the transmission tunnel it has an Audi-style toggle, gear-lever and buttons, in the dash a large touchscreen (although the infotainment system is a little under-whelming), a lovely leather steering wheel and well-bolstered seats together with loads of cup and bottle holders and places to keep things complete the very pleasant cabin. I think the sun screen in the roof may not quite be up to our summer sun.

Haval has worked hard with the H6C to improve comfort and NVH levels adding to the impression of quality. One thing bothers me. When the doors are open the grab-handle is too far away and you have to really stretch to reach out and close the door. This is something you will get used to.
The steering is not too light, so the car feels planted, but as caradvice.com says of the steering: “odd electro-assisted steering, which feels artificial and overly resistant on centre for our tastes.” I could not agree more.
The H6 just soaks up bumps and road irregularities as a result of the damper force and spring rates being just right, making the car ride well. The model we tested rides on 19 inch alloys wearing Cooper tire 225/55 radials, but base models have 17 inch wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. The spare is a spacesaver. Interestingly the H6 comes with a fire extinguisher in the boot.


A five-star C NCAP rating gives peace of mind. The top spec models get 6 airbags but all the models get ABS, EBD and so on.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine develops 140kW of power and a healthy 310Nm of torque giving it a claimed fuel consumption of 9.8 L/100 km but expect to average around 12 L/100 km in real driving conditions, so it is quite thirsty.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag is nicely matched to the engine, or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox. For now only the front wheel drive versions are available here.
I found the all-round performance to be good. This Haval is well engineered.

Haval H6 C side

Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
The H6 C is available in three trim levels: City, Premium, and Luxury.
You will struggle to find a better-specced SUV than this in this price range, or even for R100k more.
The H6 C is a good car, well equipped and well priced. It appears to be well built too.
The prices are as follows:
2.0T MT City 4X2 – R329 900, 2.0T MT Premium 4X2 – R339 900, 2.0T MT Luxury 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0T DCT City 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0 DCT Premium 4×2 – R369 900
All H6 C’s have a very good five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.

Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR review

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda are back with a bang in South Africa. Good looking cars. Great new engines. All the safety kit.
The Mazda2 we are reviewing here has big shoes to fill. Remember the two versions of 323 we had back in the day? Good cars which seemingly lasted for ever. This new 4th generation model was Car of the Year in Japan in its launch year.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Our test car had a beautiful colour, Smoky Rose, better in the flesh than in a photo. The same can be said about the exterior of this Mazda2. Very pleasing to look at. Mazda calls their design philosophy ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design. They kind of get it right, I think.

The interior is neat, uncluttered and smart, with a few luxury aspects like red stitching on the dash cowling and soft touch where it matters. The half leather trim seats are comfortable and quite adjustable. A premium cabin that not only looks good, but feels right and exudes quality.
So it looks right, but how does it perform?

The 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission couples directly with the engine and combines the best aspects of a conventional automatic, continuously variable (CVT) and dual clutch transmissions. It is brilliant and points to the future.

mazda2_16_rear

This model has a very modern up-to-date robust 1.5 turbodiesel engine which develops 250Nm of torque and 77kW of power. Mazda claims a fuel consumption of 4.4L/100km and I got a very creditable 5.8L/100km in real life driving. Acceleration and top speed is fine but is definitely geared to economy. The chassis has been well set up and delivers great handling and superb road holding. As with Mazda in general, it’s a fun car to drive, and it has all the safety kit.

MZD Connect is the Mazda infotainment system. It is a complete system with a multi function commander rotary control just like on swanky German cars, a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connections, clear, intuitive menu, several other functions and even includes internet radio (Pandora, sticher and aha). Pretty nifty. Easy to use and works well.

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR as tested costs R290 700. The range starts at R204 100 for the 1.5 Active, which has the very good Skyactive petrol engine and feels seriously quick.

Mazda price list here. 

I would rather get the Mazda2 1.5 petrol Individual automatic at R227 200 if I was buying a B class car now. If you need a slightly bigger car have a look at the Ford Focus 1.0T.

You get a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty , a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Other cars in this segment include the brilliant Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Focus 1.0T, Kia Rio, Hyundai i30, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and Renault Clio.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Golf 7 GTI facelifted

I get why South Africans generally love the GTI.

It looks so good. The body, but especially inside. Dare I say sexy? It handles sublimely. It has oodles of power. Its a really “lekker” car.

VW Golf GTI

Our test car was a very good looking white silver metallic, with red GTI highlights around the lights for example and red stitching on the black leather upholstery. A classy package.

Oh, the sound. VW have engineered a very growly exhaust note that was really pleasant to me. Not too loud, unless the pedal has been pressed to the metal, then its music to a petrolhead’s ears.

The recently released Golf Mk VII facelifted model must be the “best” sporty Golf VW has made for the driving enthusiast who needs to go to work and go shopping in his car with his family.

You can understand why VW have been building them for 43 years and now at an average rate of one every 40 seconds. With global sales now well in excess of 33 million (nearly 350 750 sold in South Africa) since its launch where it enjoys the highest pro rata sales, GTI to normal Golf, of all markets in the world.

Golf GTI rear

The new GTI now has similar power output as the outgoing GTI Performance at 169kW. The 0 to 100km/h classic sprint is achieved in 6.4 seconds and the top speed is limited to248km/h. With DSG transmission, VW claim the GTI has a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100km, but you will battle to get that unless you have a feather like foot. On one stint of spirited driving I got 12L/100km, but expect around 8L/100km provided you keep things very ‘pedestrian’. My average consumption was 10.6L/100km. The long term average (1964km) of the car is 9.7L/100km.

The 1.4-litre TSI with 92kW(5000 to 6000rpm) has been retained for the normal model. This lively engine delivers its 200 Nm maximum torque over a large speed range from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm. The Golf 1.4 TSI has a claimed combined fuel consumption is just 5.2 l/100km.

VW’s fancy Composition Media Radio /CD system is available standard on the GTI and optional on the Trendline and Comfortline models. The design has a clear glass surface and its integrated 8-inch colour display has been completely restructured. It gets finger prints quickly and looks dirty quite easily, but it works well.

Golf interior 2017

Five different views are available for the 12.3-inch Active InfoDisplay which is a fully digitalised instrument cluster with a whole load of interactive functions. It replaces the normal analogue instruments. This is the same brilliant concept which is very well executed which we have previously seen in Audis.

Taken with the digital instrument cluster, the big infotainment display becomes a little superfluous I think.
If you select the fancy key option you get to keep your key in your pocket. Entry and locking becomes keyless and you get a start button.
You don’t get a lot of space in a Golf, but it is not bad. Compact without being cramped. What you do get is a very good interior, both in design and execution. With the GTI you also get very satisfying performance.
I found the driver’s seat a little difficult to set up, but once settled it is quite comfortable and gives you good, especially lateral support.

The long list of optional features that are on offer include swivelling towbar, panoramic sunroof, 8.0-inch Composition Media Radio/CD system, 9.2-inch Discover Pro Navigation System, Active Info Display, Rear Assist with rear view camera, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Park Distance Control (front and rear), Park Assist, KESSY Keyless Entry and Start, Adaptive Chassis Control including driver selection (only available on GTI).

The basic sticker price of the GTI we drove is R545 800. Options fitted to the test car are: metallic paint, panoramic sunroof, KESSY advanced key, rear assist, DynAudio sound package, navigation pack, adaptive chassis control, park assist, blind spot detection, active info display, front assist and fancy Santiago alloy rims.

The cost of these accessories is at least R73 000. So the price as tested is R619 000, or more.

The Golf range is as follows:
1.0 TSI 81kW Trendline Manual R289 900
1.0 TSI 81kW Comfortline Manual R304 200
1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG R356 400
2.0 TSI 169kW GTI DSG R545 800

The new range comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

With a budget of R612 000 you could get yourself one of the following: Audi A5 2.0 TDI, Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0, BMW 320I, Mercedes Benz C250, or my pick, the Volvo S60.
As far as I am concerned the 1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG hits the sweet spot at R356 400 without any extras. But you can get away with under R400 000 including some optional items.