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The New Volkswagen Polo – Brand Wins

2022 Volkswagen Polo in South Africa

It seems like only yesterday I was at the launch of the 5th generation Volkswagen Polo – a vehicle that was a brand new model. Fast forward four very fast years and I found myself attending the launch of the updated facelifted version – the 2022 VW Polo.

The Polo is a vehicle entrenched in SA’s heritage and many South Africans will have either owned or desired one at some point in their life. For this reason the Polo usually manages to drum up quite a bit of media attention, and before you’ve even read this article I’ll take a shot that you know what the new Polo costs in South Africa and have a strong opinion about it.

2022 Volkswagen Polo Specs – What’s Changed?

From a technical standpoint there’s no huge changes to the Polo range. It still retains the same powertrains in the form of the 70kW Manual, 85kW DSG & 147kW GTI.

Most of the updates to the new range come in the form of design & technology updates. For example, an updated front end comprising newly designed LED lights & bumper, as well as the LED light strip running across the bottom of the grill – first introduced on the Golf 8 GTI. When you see this during dark in your rear view mirror, it looks fantastic. On the rear, new LED lights bring a totally different look – one which I really like in the flesh.

On the inside, the new items are an updated Multi-Function steering wheel, Digital Cockpit & updated infotainment system. The new Polo is now available with IQ.Drive Travel Assist, which combines Active Cruise Control & Lane Keep Assist to create a semi-autonomous driving experience. Also available on the VW Polo are Front Assist & Pedestrian monitoring systems.

VW has also changed the naming conventions of the range. Trendline, Comfortline & Highline are now replaced with “Polo” as entry-level, “Polo Life” coming in the middle and “R-line” replacing Highline. GTI is GTI.

Along with a slightly cleaner & more streamlined interior, all models feature a separate cluster under the digital screen for operating A/C & Climate Control – if selected as an option. On the higher specced R-Line & GTI, the knobs and buttons have been replaced with a touch/slide interface like the Golf 8 GTI.

Personally I’m not a fan, for the pure reason that it can be a little fiddly and seems to take more attention and eyes off the road to figure out or adjust than the classic setup.

How does the new Polo drive?

Not much has changed from a driving perspective with the new Polo range. We tested the entry-level 1.0 TSI 70kW Manual as well as the GTI.

You can expect a pleasant, comfortable and peaceful drive from VW’s entry level polo. The manual gearbox is smooth and precise, cruising is easy and the 1.0 engine lives a little punch when needed. The digital cockpit & updated infotainment system add a little more driving ease. It’s great for city driving & nipping around when doing errands but it will also hold its own on the open road.

I feel the best way to describe the Polo GTI, is to simply describe it as a smaller Golf GTI, and I’d argue the Polo is more fun to drive. When combining the very responsive engine (147kW & 320Nm) with a light & nimble chassis the Polo GTI is a joy. There’s a great tone too when you put your foot down which seems a little more present than before.

The new Digital Cockpit Pro & other bits of tech such as Matrix LED lights & IQ.Drive bring the Polo GTI very close to it’s big brother in terms of offering. The Golf GTI is more refined, more grown up and more sofiscaited, but if you don’t need the extra space & comfort that a Golf GTI offers, I don’t feel you’d be missing out on much at all in the Polo GTI.

Is the 2022 Volkswagen Polo too expensive?

One reason for the increased pricing in the new Polo range is down to the increase in standard features available on all models in the range. For example, the entry-level Polo 1.0 TSI 70kW Manual comes standard notably with LED headlights & rear lights, multifunctional steering wheel, power adjustable & heated exterior mirrors, rear electric windows and the famous Digital Cockpit. ( We cover the full list of new standard features for each model at the end of this article.)

I feel like tech such as LED lighting & the digital cockpit are very strong, key features to include in an entry-level model. Especially with a modern focus on safety & technology.

In comparison to competitors, the Ford Fiesta offers low beam LED across its range. Renault offers Full LED headlights across the Clio range There’s no LED Headlights to be seen on the Hyundai i20 or Kia Rio, even on the R375,000 TEC SR model. On the Opel Corsa, you’ll need to spend R400k on the Elegance model to access LED headlights.

Each brand prioritizes different features but LED Lighting is a safety feature as much as a lighting feature, so it’s good to see this on every Polo model.

When you consider that on the previous entry level models, LED headlights were a R13,200 Option, as well as Active Info Display at R9000, Multi-function Steering Wheel at R3,900, and the fact that some other standard features were not available, the estimated +- R52k increase on the Polo TSI 70 kW manual doesn’t seem so bad. This pattern continues throughout the range, an increase in price on all models, but with a much stronger standard feature list.

There are other factors for price increases coming into play here as well. Firstly, South Africa had big economic issues through Covid & the rioting which had a big knock on effect. Secondly, South Africa produces a huge amount of Polo’s for other markets and nearly all Polo GTI’s for the world. This sometimes dictates the spec packages required on the vehicles for other markets.

There is a positive to these price increases. The new standard features would most likely be very common option extras if not standard. Having them as standard features is a big plus for one reason – residual value. You see, if you try and sell a used car loaded with optional extras, the original cost of those are not included in your resale price which means you have essentially lost even more money.

However, if they come standard on the vehicle, they are included in the residual value and thus you’ll sell your car for a better price.

To say the new VW Polo is too expensive is an out of context statement when compared with direct competitors. Most vehicles in the A0 Segment in which the VW Polo sits range from around R280k up to R400k. Apart from the Opel Corsa, only the Polo R-Line, GTI & push past this number (not including the GR Yaris). The Polo & Polo life models sit firmly in the middle of this segment in terms of pricing. While the Polo is the premium option in the segment, it certainly isn’t too expensive.

The Polo Isn’t your First Car Anymore

One of the reasons why the Polo is such a popular car in South Africa is because once upon a time, your first car was a Polo. I’ve seen many a comment relating to this with the launch of the updated car. This is no longer the case and is wise to keep in mind when slating the increased pricing. The new VW Polo is arguably a premium vehicle in it’s segment, this shows us that the market positioning has changed. It’s no longer your first car, but more likely to be your second or third as you grow in your career. This is clearly seen by VW’s vehicle positioning.

While this may be a sore point for some given the vehicle’s heritage, Volkswagen are in the business of selling cars and they feel this is the right market placement. All is not lost though, as the Polo Vivo will continue and remain a great option as a first vehicle and entry into the VW brand.

Brand Wins

Across social media, many have seemed to vent their upset and frustration at the pricing of the VW Polo range. When compared to competitor vehicles though, the pricing isn’t actually too bad at all. For example, let’s take the Ford Fiesta with a price ranging from R322,500 – R382,900.

If we compare the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 7AT to the VW Polo Life 85kW DSG, you’re probably getting a better package overall for your money with the Ford Fiesta. However, there’s one thing that Ford or any other competitor doesn’t have as strong as the VW Polo, and put simply, it’s “brand”.

Why do you think so many people now buy an iPhone over Samsung? A Samsung is cheaper and arguably has more features, but they don’t have the same brand power Apple carries. In this era we live, if you have brand power on your side, the consumers will come.

This is exactly the reason why VW sold over 1455 units of the new Polo in the first month, and has led this segment for years. It’s the same old question for the Polo target market, which vehicle would you rather roll up to a party in? A Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa or a VW Polo?


The Polo has once again grown in terms of safety, technology and offering. What was once your “first car” is now more likely the car you buy later down the line as you grow as a young professional. It’s more expensive, but it’s more premium and carries with it brand power in bucket loads. Is it worth its price tag? If you view the Polo in the right light and compare it with direct competitors, I believe it still offers value for money and brings with it a big bag of social currency.

Volkswagen Polo Pricing in South Africa & New Standard Features

Polo 1.0 TSI 70kW Manual – R311 800

  1. Eco LED Headlights and tail lights

  2. Multi-function Steering Wheel

  3. Power Adjustable and heated exterior mirrors

  4. Rear power windows

  5. Digital Cockpit

Polo Life 1.0 TSI 70kW Manual – R350 000

Polo Life 1.0 TSI 85kW DSG® – R370 700

As above including:

  1. Folding Exterior Mirrors

  2. Park Distance Control ( Front and Rear)

  3. Cruise Control

  4. 15-Inch Alloy Wheels

Polo R-Line 1.0 TSI 85kW DSG® – R421 900

As above including:

  1. Digital Cockpit Pro

  2. 2-Zone Climatronic A/C

  3. Leather Multi-function Steering Wheel with Shift Paddles

  4. 16-inch Alloy Wheels

Polo GTI 2.0 TSI 147kW DSG® – R489 400

As above including:

  1. IQ Light LED Matrix Headlights

  2. Part Leather Heated Seats

  3. Front Assist

  4. Dynamic Chassis Control

  5. Dynamic Cornering Lights

The new Volkswagen Polo comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, 3 year/ 45 000km EasyDrive Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. The service interval is 15 000km. Customers have the option to extend EasyDrive Maintenance and EasyDrive Service Plans up to 10 years/ 300 000km.

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