Volkswagen have dominated the entry level market for decades with the Beetle and the Citi Golf previously and now they continue their popularity with the Polo and Polo Vivo.
Considering the hijacking stats surrounding the Polo (the reports don't differentiate between the Polo and the Vivo) if you are considering buying a new car there are alternatives that will fill the hatchback sized hole in your life and are less likely to get a gun in your face in exchange for your motor vehicle.
Image courtesy VWSA. 1.0 TSI R-Line
Propping up the Volkswagen Polo range is the 1.2 TSI Trendline priced at R226,900. The stats worth comparing are the Boot space at 280 litres, a 120,000km warranty, the radio is standard but Bluetooth is optional and it has 4 airbags with Park Distance Control (PDC) as an optional extra.
(It is worth noting that I consider PDC and Bluetooth essential add-ons to every car.)
With aggressive and sporty lines the Fiesta looks like a fun car to drive. Inside it is well laid out with a sporty feel across the range. Starting at just above the Polo base model at R225,300 the 1.0T Ecoboost Ambiente produces an impressive 74kW from an engine that won Engine of the Year 3 times. Confusingly the Ford website lists different power output on the 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium at 92kW.
Ford Fiesta ST200 Image courtesy Ford SA
Performance wise the lower range Fiesta is slower than the Polo and the ST200 will match it to 100km/h at 6.7 seconds, but has a lower top speed. Fuel economy is claimed at 4.3 l/100km on the 1.0T Ecoboost.
Boot space is lower as well at 276 litres meaning as your family grows, you're going to need a second or bigger car sooner. Bluetooth is standard on the Fiesta but PDC is not a standard feature.
In my opinion the Fiesta beats the Polo on looks, economy, features, and less guns in your face.
The Opel Corsa has been a staple for Opel fans in the hatch market and they are still present with a decent offering to rival the Volkswagen Polo. The entry level 1.0T Essentia also produces 66kW but is not much more economical with a claimed consumption of 4.6l/100km on the base model. The Corsa starts at R201,800 with aircon and Bluetooth as optional extras. PDC is available on the higher range variants with Advanced Park Assist coming in the Cosmo models.
Image courtesy Opel SA
Relatively unchanged since 2015 the Corsa is due for a major update in the near future so hopefully the new versions boast updated styling and more modern features.
Considerably cheaper than the Polo the higher spec models are more luxurious and advanced. Not as quick and economical as the Polo models and comes with a 5 year, 120,000km warranty.
The redesigned i20 is certainly making a statement. The new design is quite sexy and the sport range looks quite special, although it will have to work hard to beat the Polo GTi. The entry level i20 1.2 Motion comes in at R224,900 and comes with a 5 year 15,000km warranty.
Image courtesy Hyundai SA
Bluetooth is standard across the range but reverse camera is an optional extra. Disappointingly, PDC is only available on higher spec variants. The boot space is at 294 litres which is not much more than you get on the Polo models.
The Hyundai 1.2 engine produces 61kW and is notably slower than the Polo and the i20 Sport doesn't claim phenomenal performance like the Polo GTi.
Mazda are really pushing the envelope with some great offerings and the Mazda 2 lays a great foundation at the bottom of their ranges. With a considerably bigger engine than the other options the 1.5 Active 82kW and Mazda claim average fuel economy of 5.5l/100km.
Image courtesy Mazda SA
The boot space matches that of the Polo at 280 litres and is also missing Bluetooth and PDC in the base models. Priced at R215,100 the Mazda 2 and sold with a 3 year unlimited km warranty the 2 has keyless go across the entire range which gives the impression that the car is worth more than you pay.
Quicker than the Polo at the bottom of the range the Mazda 2 does not have a sport offering and is not the most adventurous car, but the interiors available are stunning and also feel at home in a more expensive car, that is still cheaper than the Polo.
The Renault Clio offers similar space and power but from a smaller engine and much better looks. The Clio is powered by a 900cc turbo which produces the same power output as the Polo 1.2 TSI engine. The Clio boast 300 litres of boot space and comes standard with a host of extras although PDC is not one of them. Bluetooth is and so is the love-to-hate extra, Cruise Control.
Image courtesy Renault SA
The entry level Clio 66kW turbo Authentique will set you back R206,900. For the same price as the Polo you can get the Expression which includes a better sound system with on-board navigation, and leather steering wheel. The Clio comes with a 5 year, 150,000km warranty.
The Clio is slower and less economical than the Polo with a top speed of 178km/h (184km/h on the Polo) and average consumption of 5.5l/100km (4.9l/100km claimed on the Polo)
The Clio RS200 will rival the Polo GTi with their performance stats looking almost equal, the main difference being the Polo has a higher top speed, by 6km/h
So the Clio beats it on looks, price, and features but loses out on speed and economy.
Reading this comparison you can see why the Polo is a popular choice, over 1.25 million of them have been built in South Africa's plant. It is well placed among the competition and despite the crime associated with it, it is still a great seller. My personal picks of alternative would be the Renault Clio and the Ford Fiesta, especially in the sport models. The Renault styling is sublime and beats out the bland interiors presented by Ford and Volkswagen.