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A R3 800 monthly installment (no deposit, no residual) qualifies a buyer to buy a hatch worth R190 000.
We selected the three best hatch models at this price i.e. Renault Sandero Stepway Dynamique at R189 900, the Toyota Etios Sprint HB at R174 300 and VW’s Polo Vivo Hatch Street at R185 800.
The most expensive in this group, the Stepway competes with the higher spec Vivo Maxx and Etios Cross but those are above R190 000 and therefore don’t qualify.
The Sandero is the best looker of the 3 however the Vivo Street has more street cred.
We found more ladies loved the Sandero and guys loved the Vivo with most stating its easier to modify. The Etios comes 3rd to the tied 2 rivals.
The Sandero is a clear winner in this category even outclassing its more expensive natural rivals (Maxx and Cross).
The Sandero and Etios have more space inside than the Polo; which struggles to fit five adults comfortably. All models come standard with remote central locking, A/C, USB/CD/Bluetooth/Radio.
The Vivo gets tilt and reach adjustable power steering whilst the Etios and Sandero are only tilt. Manual windows & mirror control let the Vivo down as compared to all electric set-ups for its rivals.
The Sandero gains a big chuck over its rivals with standard Touchscreen Infotainment with Navigation, on board computer, satellite controls for its audio, Cruise control, speed limiter, parking sensors, height adjustable drivers seat, arm rest (fiddly though and looks like an afterthought).
The Vivo gets a nice to hold leather steering wheel.
All three models have folding rear seats with the Sandero and Etios having better boot space.
Safety is catered for with front airbags, ABS, 3-point seatbelts, Isofix Child restraint system coming standard but the Sandero takes things further with Hillstart Assist, EBA, ESP, ASR and front side airbags.
The 66kW/132Nm 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine Etios Sprint feels more sprightly, rarely needing changes on inclines even with a load. The engine does suffer on refinement though. The 63kW/132Nm 1.4-litre 4-cylinder engine Vivo is more refined but it feels less eager to maintain speed.
The 66kW/135Nm 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine Sandero is on par with the Etios on performance and ahead of both on refinement.
Its power sapping Eco mode is useful for saving fuel but blunts performance. At high altitude (GP), the Sandero will lose less power due to its Turbo motor. All models are quite efficient on fuel.
The Etios and Sandero better cope with Mzansi’s bad roads whilst the lower suspension Vivo will likely prefer tar only.
The Etios’ buzzing engine does impact negatively on longdistance travel however long gears made it easy to drive.
The spec-laden Sandero offers better refinement but its higher ground clearance, so good for gravel roads, makes it sway more than the other two in spirited driving.
Value for money
The Sandero is the most expensive of the trio (R25k dearer than Etios, R4 100 dearer than Vivo) but it does counter with a much higher spec kit.
Both the Etios and Sandero come standard with a service plan (2 year/30 000km) whilst the Vivo has none.
The Sandero comes with a 5-year /150 000 km warranty, Etios with a 3 year/100 000km warranty and the Vivo Street offers a 3 year/120 000km.
Which one for you?
The cheaper Etios makes more sense for the commuter who just wants to get to point B reliably with aircon and power steering.
The Vivo is the street cred model, which continually outsells its rivals.
Most of these models are pimped up almost as soon as they leave the showroom floor however their popularity with thieves is a let down.
The Sandero offers the most standard kit and safety equipment, while its ride height make it easier to live with on tar and gravel roads. As a complete package, the Sandero wins on the virtue of its spec list and refinement.
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From left: The Polo Vivo, Toyota Etios and Renault Sandero hatchbacks all offer good value, but overall, the Renault leaves the other two behind.