Old Volkswagen Polo vs new Polo Vivo: How different are they?

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The perception that the new Volkswagen Polo Vivo is merely a rebadged version of the outgoing Volkswagen Polo has caused an outcry on social media. How much truth is there to that (seemingly alarmist) claim? It's time to lock in some facts and set the record straight.

Welcome to 2018 – both a new Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo have been launched in the South African new vehicle market. However, while the Polo itself has grown up and is almost a Golf competitor, the Polo Vivo has drawn the most attention. At first glance, it looks uncannily like the previous generation Polo and our social media channels have been bombarded with complaints, insults and jokes. One particular development was the joke that claims all TSI owners need to visit their dealerships as part of a factory recall so the TSI badge can be replaced by a Vivo badge.

How true is this? Is the new Volkswagen Polo Vivo the same car as the previous generation Volkswagen Polo? In this article, we're going to compare the old Volkswagen Polo to the new Polo Vivo in terms of exterior looks, interiors and engines.

Volkswagen has never marketed the Vivo as anything other than a more affordable derivative of the Polo and as we said in our launch drive, it's unreasonable to expect Volkswagen SA to develop a budget-friendly car replete with a complete redesign. 

Exterior Looks

Here you can see a few changes between the Volkswagen Polo and the new Polo Vivo. The headlight design is slightly different, there's a new upper and lower grille, the indicator lenses have been moved from the side mirrors to just behind the wheel arches... and there are different wheel designs.

The rear design has not changed much from previous Polo to the Polo Vivo, other than the redesigned tail lights and the switch from a plastic badge to a sticker.

Cabin and Interior Differences

There are many differences between the cabins of the previous Volkswagen Polo and the new Polo Vivo. There are no electric windows in the Vivo, the wing mirrors can only be adjusted manually, the steering wheel has fewer buttons, while the instrument panel does away with the tunnel effect dials. There are also different materials used in the trim and upholstery.

The infotainment system in last year's Volkswagen Polo is bigger and more comprehensive than the one offered in the new Polo Vivo. Despite its smaller screen and reduced features, it still gets the basics right and boasts an SD card rear, aux input and USB port. 

From this comparison, you can see the outgoing Polo has more features than the Polo Vivo. There are also many changes which you can't see unless you pull the cars apart.

We suspect that the new Volkswagen Polo Vivo has a bit less sound-proofing material, for instance. Despite the removal of components such as rear electric windows, the Polo Vivo still feels like a quality offering and represents a big leap forward for the budget car segment as a whole.

Engines and Transmission

The Volkswagen Polo is powered by a 4-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbopetrol engine offering 66 kW with 160 Nm of torque. Top of the range models in the new Polo lineup get an 81 kW and 175 Nm version of this engine. The range also included a 1.0-litre turbo offering 81 kW and 200 Nm, which was introduced towards the end of its lifecycle. The 1.4 and 1.6 naturally-aspirated engines were also available on the entry-level models and were carried over through to Vivo. This Polo saw the dual-clutch DSG transmission make its debut.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo makes do with naturally-aspirated engines from the predecessor, however, these have been optimised for improved fuel consumption. Kicking off the range is a 55 kW/130 Nm 1.4-litre Trendline, followed by the same engine albeit with a tad more power. It's called the Comfortline and it features 63 kW and 132 Nm. The next step up is the 1.6-litre 77 kW and 153 Nm, which is available in both manual and automatic. Finally, a turbocharged engine makes its debut in the Volkswagen Polo Vivo range, with a 1.0-litre turbocharged mill boasting outputs of 81 kW and 200 Nm. In terms of transmission, a manual gearbox is available as well as a Tiptronic automatic.

To find out more about the new Volkswagen Polo and the new Polo Vivo, check out more content

Video Comparison: 2018 Volkswagen Polo & 2017 Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo Vivo (2018) Launch Drive

Volkswagen Polo Vivo (2018) Specs & Pricing

Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Highline AT (2018) Video Review

5 Alternatives to the New VW Polo Vivo

Volkswagen Polo (2018) Launch Review

Volkswagen Polo (2018) Specs & Pricing

Want to buy a Volkswagen Polo? 

Browse new and used examples for sale here.

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