A new trend has started in South Africa. Motor manufacturers have begun to re-badge their outgoing entry level models to create an entry-entry level vehicle that precedes the old entry level one. Sounds confusing? This may be their plan.
It’s a brilliant marketing ploy you see because there are two benefits. They sell you what is technically a new car, but looks like the old one – which has the effect of keeping the second hand market afloat, because the old one still looks like the new one.
The second benefit involves a bit of economics in that the marginal cost of producing another old car is next to nothing. And in case that went over your head it means it’s cheap to make.
This road test marks a new trend for Drive RSA as well. For the first time ever we’re doing a head to head. A top trumps if you like, with the VW Vivo taking on Ford’s Figo.
Are they cheap?
In a nut shell, yes the entry level models of both vehicles are quite cheap, with the Vivo starting at R 116,065 and the Figo kicking things off at R 114,980. But let’s not be too hasty about things.
What one often fails to consider is servicing and maintenance costs. Since neither the Ford nor the VW come standard with a service plan, I took a look at the Kinsey Report on parts’ prices to determine which is cheaper to maintain once you’ve driven it off the showroom floor. Here again the Ford hurts your wallet less as the normal basket of parts changed in a service cost around 50% less than the VW.
1-0 to the Figo.
Do they offer value for money?
Until recently the Figo kicked the Vivo right where it hurts most. There’s hardly an option on the VW list that doesn’t come standard with the Ford, so you get more for your bucks. However VW wised up to this and now all Vivo’s are being offered standard with aircon. Which means if you bought your Vivo when it first hit the shelf, the People’s Car company has stolen about R1,500 from your back pocket, which I can imagine has done little good for customer satisfaction. Aside from the aircon story, Ford really did a great job of undercutting their rival on this front.
2-0 to the Figo.
What’s it like behind the wheel?
VW have a reputation for making cars that feel solid and nothing has changed with the Vivo. The Continental “Eco” tyres are quite narrow which detracts slightly from the old Polo’s planted feeling and adds to the understeer, but there’s still that distinct quality that other entry level vehicles struggle to match. The base model Vivo comes with a plucky little 1.4 litre engine that produces 55kW. The power feels very usable through the 5 speed manual gearbox.
The Figo on the other hand doesn’t convey as confident a feeling on the road. It too suffers from “Eco” tyre syndrome which is emphasised by less precise steering. The entry level model also comes with a 1.4 litre engine, but produces more power at 62kW.
Personally I don’t think the power difference has that much of an effect. Neither car is quick, so the more solid sensation offered by the Vivo is definitely the overwhelming factor. Another consideration is fuel consumption, which in the Ford is 6.6l/100km on the combined cycle, whereas the Vivo achieves just 6.2 l/100km. Maybe less really is more in the entry level segment.
So the Vivo pulls one back on the Ford in this department.
2-1 to the Figo.
Are the interiors any good?
Well if you like the old Polo interior then yes, and if you like the previous generation Fiesta then yes again. The Vivo does carry that distinctive German feel and quality of materials throughout the cabin. But the Fiesta feels more spacious. In my books it’s too close to call on this one, so I’ll call it a tie.
3-2 to the Figo.
Do they look good?
This is a tough one due to the subjective nature of looks. I, for example, don’t find Angelina Jolie all that attractive. It’s made even tougher by the fact that neither car is in any way revolutionary – so I’m stuck with my preconceived notions of preferring the Ford because I liked the old Fiesta more than the Polo. But, in order to keep the peace, this one has to be called a tie as well.
4-3 to the Figo.
Which would I buy?
Given the choice, and based on the above score of 4-3 in favour of the Figo, it would have to be the Ford. The Vivo and Figo have been designed for the sole purpose of getting you from A to B in less time that it might take on a donkey, while keeping you dry in the case that it rains and for as few Rands as possible. The Figo just does this job better.
|Ford Figo||VW Vivo|
|Price||R 114,980||R 116,065|
|Engine||1.4 litre Duratec||1398cc 4 cylinder petrol|
|Top Speed (km/h)||169||171|
|Fuel Consumption (l/100km)||6.6||6.2|
Photo Credit: Quickpic