Polo Vivo has been SA's top-selling car for an astonishing 10 years - here's why

Business Insider SA

Polo Vivo. Source Volkswagen
  • The Volkswagen Polo Vivo has been the top-selling South African passenger car for a decade.
  • Buyers like the model because of its competitive pricing, as well as its cheaper spare parts and solid resale value.
  • Instead of being just a “Golf-on-a-budget”, the Vivo has developed its own personality.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

It has been a remarkable run: Over more than a decade, month after month, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo has been South Africa's top-selling passenger car.

Sergio Davids, editor of Wheels24, says that throughout that 10-year period, there has been only one or two months (such as January 2019), when it wasn't the best-seller in the country. It’s only surpassed by SA’s best-selling vehicle overall, the Toyota Hilux. 

According to the latest sales numbers from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), more than 2,570 Volkswagen Polo Vivo cars were sold in June - compared to its competitor Polo sibling (the premium Polo) which sold 1,887 units, followed by the Toyota Fortuner (1,410 units) and Renault Kwid (1,056 units).

Back in 2009, Volkswagen took a decision to evolve its Polo into a more premium product essentially replacing the iconic Citi Golf. At the time the move raised many eyebrows. But 10 years down the line, the decision has paid off with the current generation being a phenomenal success.

“The sixth-generation Polo benefits from a more premium design compared to its predecessor and is priced aggressively hence its dominance within the passenger car market,” said Davids. 

Nowadays there are very few cars in the market that can match its design, cheaper price and similar long-lived local heritage, he believes. 

“The Polo is great at it what it’s built for – a family-orientated, premium offering with loads of practical and advanced features usually seen in a more premium vehicle,” said Davids. 

Here's why the Polo Vivo remains a bestseller in South Africa:

Great performance, just don't ask it to go off road. 

The Polo Vivo is smooth on paved road, soaks up bumps and undulations with ease and is a breeze to drive. (It's not great on gravel, though.) Its engine and comfort-orientated performance make it well suited for small families, students and is an ideal work horse for those travelling on business, says Davids. 

One of the Vivo's benefits is its access to Volkswagen's so-called Modular Transverse Matrix platform, known as the 'MQB AO'. This refers to the fixed and standardised dimensions of Volkswagen cars, including for engines, as well as a shared electrical architecture in all Volkswagen cars.

This means that the Vivo benefits from technology and features used in more premium offerings, such as the Golf. It also means technology like automatic disk shifting gears can be purchased without the heavy price tag. 

Attractive price for first time buyers with bells and whistles. 

The Polo Vivo is priced from R192,700, which is rather aggressive, says Davids. It offers a good option for first-time buyers with competitive financing offers. Unlike the Polo, it has a lot more competition, namely from similarly-priced Ford and Toyota models - but it consistently beats its rivals, at least in terms of sales.

"It's edging past its competitors by offering more bang for their buck, under tougher economic circumstances." 

It's practical for the family.

It has a voluminous boot, perfect for families and an impromptu road trip, provided you don’t hit gravel roads. It comfortably seats five, has excellent head and shoulder room, and has ISOFIX points for child seats. 

Great resale value and cheaper spare parts

Given that it is SA’s best-selling passenger car, it has great resale value and the Vivo benefits from being even more sought after in the second-hand market. VWs also benefit from being locally-produced, this means lower repair costs compared to rivals and cheaper parts in case something needs to be fixed or repaired.

Read: VW Polo versus Polo Vivo: which has the better resale value?

Modern design

People like the design and instead of being just a “Golf-on-a-budget”, the Vivo has developed its own personality, says Davids.    

Read: The ‘new’ Volkswagen Polo Vivo will keep on delivering

Here is how 2019 sales are looking: 

Top selling cars of 2019. Source Wheels24.

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