One of the favourite words in the South African automaking lexicon is "refreshed". It's a catch-all that could variously mean a new engine, some new tech goodies or a just a cabin makeover - whatever, they happen every three years or so.
Their reason: to extend a given model's life, to catch up with innovations introduced by competitors - think Bluetooth, turbocharging (everybody is doing it these days!) - extra gears to the current maximum of nine, or just an appearance facelift.
The winners are the automakers who get a "new" model for minimum outlay and the buyers who happen to need to replace their wheels at the time, the losers those who bought their "new" car just a few months earlier and now face a larger drop in resale value than they might have expected
And to be fair, of course, publications such as Wheels24 which enjoy the extra advertising income.
GALLERY: 2014 Polo Vivo hatch/sedan
This past week was VW SA's turn with a bodywork "refresh" and a change of equipment lines: Conceptline, Blueline, Trendline and Comfortline and the availability of hatchback GT and "the rugged Maxx".
There are 14 models spread through six specification levels and four four-cylinder engine choices - hatches and sedans - ranging in price from R142 700 to R180 900 with anti-lock brakes now on each unit.
149 500 VIVOS SOLD
The changes were announced to Wheels24 and other Cape Town-based print and internet publications over a lunch at the Groot Constantia wine estate but, for the first time in my career memory, without examples of the latest model available for a test drive.
So, we've had to depend on the media release (on paper and via email). Here's what we were told... though marketing boss Matt Gennrich explained that "the changes are, effectively, exterior" and the reassurance that, since the Vivo was launched as a purely South African model with 70% of the parts South African-made, that more than 149 500 units had been sold since launch in 2010.
There was also the reassuring claims (facelifts, remember!) in the media material that the Polo Vivo hatches and sedans, over a three-year cycle, are one of the least expensive cars in South Africa and class leaders in residual values.
All versiions of the latest Vivo have power-assisted steering and aircon.
This directly from the media release...
The new Polo Vivo has been given a fresh and exciting look with the addition of new headlight design and grille with chrome inserts. The redesigned front with the VW badge in the centre is strikingly noticeable when one sees the new Polo Vivo for the first time.
In Trendline and Comfortline derivatives, the lower grille also gets chrome inserts that add youthful, modern character to the new car.
Exterior mirrors and door handles of the Trendline, Comfortline and GT derivatives are offered in body colour.
The Conceptline, Trendline and Comfortline have new interior trims which add exciting ambience and feel into cabi. A new gear knob with leatherette gearshift has been introduced. Trendline, Comfortline, GT and Maxx derivatives have a height-adjustable driver's seat.
The new instrument cluster has red and white illumination and for entertainment there's an option of CD/radio with MP3 capability/Bluetooth/USB with four-speakers (standard on Trendline, optional on Conceptline and Blueline). Comfortline, GT and Maxx derivatives get two extra speakers.
Active and passive standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, alarm and remote-controlled central locking. Front fog-lights are standard on Comfortline, GT and Maxx.
...and here's the latest engine range: Two four-cylinder petrol engines, 1.4 (tuned for 55kW and 63kW) and 1.6 (77 kW) with five-speed manual transmission' Tiptronic auto available with 63kW 1.4.
...with their basic performance data:
The entry engine with 55kW at 5000rpm with 90% of that available from 2200rpm, and 132Nm. Claimed fuel consumption 6.2 liters/100km.
1.4 55kW - Blueline
Thanks to low rolling-resistance tyres and lower suspension, this is the most fuel-efficient and has the same torque as the Conceptline.. Claimed average fuel consumption 5.8 litres/100km.
1.4 63kW - Trendline
Eight kW more that the previous two engines, same torque. Average fuel consumption of 6.2 (6.9 Tiptronic) litres/100km.
1.6 77kW - Comfortline, GT and Maxx
The performance model with top speed of 187km/h and 10.6sec to 100km/h thanks to the extra 22kW of power and 23Nm torqu, the latter at 3500rpm. Claimed average fuel consumption 6.6 liters/100km.
Common to all models are:
Interior/handy stuff: Soft-touch facia, three-spoked steering wheel, new gearshift knob with leatherette gearshift boot, instrument with red and white illumination, centre console with 12V power socket, 'Afrika' cloth seat trim, manual exterior mirrors, manual windows, aircon, power-assisted steering, height and reach adjustable steering column, full-size steel spare wheel, tinted glass, two front air bags, heatable rear window, remote-controlled locking.
Options across the range (if not standard) include: Cruise control, radio/CD/MP3/SD Card/USB with four speakers, leather upholstery, 14” alloy wheel rims and alarm sensors.
PRICES (inc VAT and emissions tax)
Polo Vivo hatch
1.4 55kW Conceptline - R142 700
1.4 55kW Blueline - R148 000
1.4 63kW Trendline - R157 500
1.4 63kW Trendline Tiptronic- R172 800
1.6 77kW Trendline - R171 500
1.6 77kW Comfortline - R177 200
1.6 77kW GT - R177 200
1.6 77kW Maxx - R180 900
Polo Vivo sedan
1.4 55kW Conceptline- - R148 700
1.4 55kW Blueline - R154 000
1.4 63kW Trendline - R163 500
1.4 63kW Trendline Tiptronic - 178 800
1.6 77kW Trendline - R169 300
1.6 77kW Comfortline - R177 500
Options (availability can vary by model)
Metallic paint R900, cruise control R1250, Radio / CD / MP3 / USB / SD Bluetooth R3570, Leather R7500, Portland alloy rims R2900.
SERVICE / WARRANTY
The Volkswagen Polo Vivo hatch and sedan are sold with a three-year or 120 000km warranty and a six-year no rust-through warranty.
A five-year or 60 000km maintenance plan and five-year or 60 000km service plan are available for R6 829 and R12 312 respectively. Longer, but more expensive, plans are also available.
Service intervals: 15 000km
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