Dunlop Sort Maxx

Plain, cool, old school Vivo brings a tear to the eye

I was in matric 45 years ago in 1978. When Volkswagen belatedly brought the Golf to South Africa for the first time. My mate George got a yellow one for his 18th. Had tartan seats and a bit of garnish to set it apart from the rank and file.

Later on, my hapless boss provided me with a Golf 2 GTS company car. Same story. It wasn’t a GTI, but you’d only notice if you looked at the badge. This car reminded me of those. A good, honest, Volkswagen slightly elevated from the norm and interesting enough. And locally built too. Pretty compelling, I’d say.


Blackening made our Vivo pop

The reason perhaps, for that sentiment, is the Black Style Package our Polo Vivo Highline 1.6 manual came with. Nicked from the latest Golf GTI, the Tiguan, and the Touareg the blackening made our Reflex Silver machine pop. With glossy black 16-inch Portago alloys, darkened wing mirror caps, a gloss black roof, B and C pillars, side sills.

But wait, it’s not just all black! There’s a body-coloured boot spoiler, privacy glass and a chrome exhaust tip. But the cabin also benefits a dark anthracite headliner and sun visors. The Black Style Package adds R8,250 to your Highline base price.

For the rest, it was a good reunion with Volkswagen’s locally-built smash hit Polo Vivo. It brings enough cool tech to not only rival some far more expensive cars in safety and kit. But it retains more than enough old school to rally keep it cool. VW’s venerable normally aspirated sixteen-hundred four pot still does the job splendidly.


Quicker than ‘high tech’ turbo kin

Without the lag and drama its new-fangled turbo counterparts suffer at Reef altitude on a hot highveld afternoon, it just gets the job done. In fact its quicker than the more powerful 85 kW direct injection 12-valve turbo triple litre TSI Polo we tested a while back. Low nines to a hundred and a rorty and an aggro engine note make the Vivo fun and surprisingly entertaining to drive. As you’d expect however, its a fair bit heavier on gas.

Polo Vivo does not have the freshest cabin on the block. Yet it fails to disappoint. It’s kept up with the times well enough, but that’s actually an advantage. Old school really makes this one’s infotainment cool. There’s decent balance between knobs and touch, there’s enough manual interface actions to keep us happy. Yet its still high tech enough to impress.

Makes us wonder why the hell they ever bothered with some of that interface nonsense on some newer models. This vintage stuff is so much better to live with!


Makes this old school Volksie attractive

So, if you’re after a bit of punch, and a reasonable amount of tech along with a dash of cool, then this good old school Polo Vivo is quite the peach. Makes this old school Volksie quite the attraction. And makes us wonder even more about the real price of progress. – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: VW Polo Vivo Hatch 1.6 Highline Black
Engine: 77 kW 153 Nm 1.6-litre petrol I4
Drive: 5-speed manual FWD
0-60 km/h         4.08 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.38 sec
0-120 km/h:       13.58 sec
0-160 km/h:       28.88 sec
400m:             16.9 sec @ 132 km/h
80-120km/h:       6.94 sec
120-160 km/h      15.86 sec
Vmax:             188 km/h
Fuel:             8.5 l/100km
CO2:              147 g/km
Range:            725 km
Warranty/Service: 3y 230K km/optional
PRICE:            R312K
RATED:            8
Tagged with: