In September last year, Volkswagen revised one of Mzansi’s most-loved vehicle ranges and quietly slipped in anti-lock functionality on the braking system across the line-up. Previously, we relegated the Polo Vivo range to the “also consider” category due to a lack of ABS on all models (except in the Budget Car and Performance Car categories, we vote for a range instead of individual models), but this crucial safety enhancement brought the Vivo back into contention. Come voting day, it went on to edge the Rio as our pick in the light-sedan category, and it’s not difficult to see why. All models have two airbags, air-conditioning, remote central locking, and height-and-reach-adjustable steering column. Move up the range and items such as electric windows, alloy wheels and an audio system with USB and Bluetooth functionality become standard. Measuring 392 dm3, the boot is larger than an S-Class or A6’s, while the rear bench can seat three across (but two adults will be more comfy). Throw in Volkswagen South Africa’s extensive dealer network and it’s a no-brainer why each year thousands of South Africans choose a Polo Vivo. Now if only the Vivo could get a standard service plan…

Runners Up:

Kia Rio Sedan
Relegated to second spot due to the Vivo’s strong showing, the Rio has just been revised and remains a great product. The engines are small (1,2- and 1,4-litre units) and therefore struggle a tad at altitude, but otherwise the Rio is difficult to fault. Spec is extensive and a four-year/60 000 km service plan standard, but pricing is steep.

Ford Figo 1,4 Ambiente
The newest competitor in this class is also one of our favourites. Tested in the August 2014 issue, the Ballade impressed with its maturity and a solidly constructed cabin, punchy 1,5-litre engine and capacious boot
(400 dm3). The Elegance version is liberally equipped, but expensive. We’d recommend the 1,5 Trend at R204 800.


  • Nissan Almera
  • Volkswagen Polo Sedan
  • Toyota Etios