Cars & More: A Review Of The Volkswagen Polo Vivo

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For the last 2 years, I have been driving a 2018 1400cc Volkswagen Polo Vivo that was assembled locally in Thika by KVM. I never thought this would be a car that I’d ever own or drive but it made a lot of sense as a new run around car and even better was that it was assembled locally.

My wife and I had been looking for a second car; she has a soft spot for the Volkswagen Golf because she had grown up with one. Our 2005 Honda CRV was perfect for out of town trips but guzzled quite a bit when used as a run around vehicle during the week.

We were introduced to the Volkswagen Polo Vivo by the head Sales manager at DT Dobie and went in to look at it at the showroom together with the VW Golf. The Golf was Ksh. 4.5 million while the Polo was at Ksh. 1.6 million inclusive of VAT.

Now I know that’s the cost of an imported SUV but it was a chance for us to own a locally assembled showroom car, and what more it was German Engineering at its best. After a lot of thought and several test drives, I finally saw it as a competitively priced for a zero-mileage car.

At the time, the Polo came in two variants, the Polo Vivo and the Polo Vivo Maxx with a price difference of 100k. The Polo Vivo is a 1400cc engine with a 6-speed gearbox. It’s a 5-seater with a deep enough boot that fits my golf kit and 3 medium-sized suitcases.

The instrument layout is quite appealing with a twin speedometer and odometer layout that has the fuel and temperature gauges in the middle. The middle cluster divider has the temperature control dials and a stereo which has a radio, CD and MP3 player with in-built blue tooth functionality.

The sound system is pretty decent with good bass and 6 inbuilt speakers that make playing loud music in the car very enjoyable. The Volkswagen Polo Vivo came with 14-inch tires which makes it struggle on non-paved roads while the Maxx has 15-inch tires which adds to the ground clearance and extra space on the roof thanks to the roof rails. The Vivo also comes with a tip-tronic gearbox which I regularly use to get me out of muddy situations in some upcountry roads.

As a family, we take any opportunity to travel and that means packing three boys and quite a bit of luggage into the Volkswagen Polo Vivo. After 2 years of ownership, our Polo Vivo has done over 50,000km crisscrossing the country from Watamu to Bondo; we’ve even been to Marsabit town not to mention a chance entry into Marsabit National Park.

How has it measured up you ask?

I have profound respect for the small but very efficient Polo.

  1. As a showroom car, the suspension is tropicalized which makes it absolutely brilliant on all paved and 80% of unpaved roads.
  2. The comfort level is good as tested by five adults who were comfortable on the 700KM+ journey to Marsabit and back.
  3. Boot space is expandable as established on a Watamu holiday trip where it fitted two 20litre coolers, two medium-sized suitcases, a bag of shoes for three boys and a few other travel supplies.
  4. It’s also uber economical doing up to 15km/litre which works out to 1000 per week.

Cons?

  1. The position of the cup holders is right behind the hand brake making it extremely difficult to get to when one is driving. On the newer 2020 model, however, the cup-holders have been moved to the very bottom of the instrument cluster right before the gear lever, which is where they should be.
  2. The old model has no fog lights while the new model has them; I like fog lights but it wasn’t a deal-breaker
  3. The tyre size on the VW polo is quite unique, running on 185/60/R14 which tend to be a bit pricey here as they are only available with one dealer. I changed my back ones to 175/60/R14’s and they are working quite well.
  4. Inside handles on the roof to at least hang some dry cleaning when the need arises
  5. Also, the car alarm sound is that of a car hooting which is quite disconcerting but over time you get used to it.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo is really good value for the price it comes at and a car for any adventure on tarmac roads and moderately rough roads across the country. The 1400cc engine might sound small but it does pack quite a punch and the 6-speed automatic gearbox is quite responsive making driving it an absolute pleasure.

Onward …

DT Dobie has introduced the 2019 1600 cc version of the Volkswagen Polo Vivo which has an updated dash among other features like the cup holders! Thank you, DT Dobie, for taking our feedback. All in all, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo is a well-built car for our roads and you can find out more about it here. There are quite a number of financing options and DT Dobie can help you find the right financing partner. If you running a business, you can consider making the purchase under the company as you get some tax incentives.

Need to talk more on motoring, drop me an email at [email protected]

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