Driven - - Launched - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG | Images © VOLK­SWA­GEN SA / TOY­OTA SA

The ri­valry be­tween South Africa’s top au­tomak­ers is most ev­i­dent in two mar­ket seg­ments – the light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle, or bakkie seg­ment, and the sub-com­pact hatch, or “B” seg­ment. Re­cently both Volk­swa­gen and Toy­ota in­tro­duced new ver­sions of their B-seg­ment cars, and BERNIE HELLBERG looks at the pros and cons of both.

Mo­tor in­dus­try pun­dits who keep a keen eye on the monthly in­dus­try sales statis­tics will know that South Africa’s top-sell­ing au­tomak­ers pull no punches in ei­ther the bakkie or the small hatch mar­ket. Vy­ing for an ever-shrink­ing piece of the sales pie, Volk­swa­gen and Toy­ota specif­i­cally, are at con­stant log­ger­heads in th­ese seg­ments.

That is why, when SA’s Top Two launch ri­val prod­ucts within weeks of one an­other, you know that sparks will fly…

This year, both VW and Toy­ota en­tered the mar­ket with the new Polo and new Toy­ota Yaris nip­ping at each other’s heels, and we look at the key dif­fer­en­tia­tors be­tween th­ese two tra­di­tional ri­vals.


South Africans are emo­tional car buy­ers. We iden­tify per­son­ally with our pre­ferred brands and live or die by how the looks of our cars make us feel.

And, while nei­ther of the VW Polo or the Toy­ota Yaris is known for their pro­gres­sive de­signs, it is more im­por­tant than ever to keep push­ing the de­sign en­ve­lope.

In this re­spect, Toy­ota has been push­ing the de­sign en­ve­lope much harder than ever be­fore, and it is ob­vi­ous in the new Yaris. Not only is the new Yaris big­ger than ever (we now get the Asia-spec car rather than the Euro­pean shape), it is also sharper, more mas­cu­line, and more ath­letic.

Be­ing peren­ni­ally more con­ser­va­tive, Volk­swa­gen has stuck to the fa­mil­iar Polo shape for the 2018 it­er­a­tion of its sub­com­pact hatch. It too is larger than any Polo of the past, and sharper crease lines are ev­i­dent, es­pe­cially at the front of the car, but it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly harder to dif­fer­en­ti­ate new VW mod­els from their pre­de­ces­sors. The Polo is no ex­cep­tion.


In the hotly-con­tested sub-com­pact mar­ket, who­ever de­liv­ers the new­est gad­gets and good­ies to a tech-savvy buyer mar­ket, is likely to walk away with the lion’s share of the spoils.

Toy­ota may be the king of re­li­a­bil­ity, but bring­ing new tech to mar­ket in the lower seg­ments has never been the brand’s strong point. Un­til now…

Yaris not only looks great, but it is sur­pris­ingly well spec­i­fied. In­cluded as

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