One and a half years ago Volkswagen re-entered the Kenyan market with a plan to revamp local vehicle assembly and subsequently build cars that are suited for our local conditions. The first model to roll out of the KVM assembly line in Thika was the value driven Polo Vivo and the subject of today’s review, the Maxx derivative.
To maximise on platform sharing and economies of scale, manufacturers that have gone the route of beefing-up their standard production cars, increase ground clearance and then sell them as lifestyle crossovers.
Remember crossovers, soft readers and SUVs are the fastest growing segment and will account for over 50% of total global vehicle sales by 2025. It is with this in mind that major brands like Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai are successfully churning crossovers left right and centre with relative success.
Volkswagen has joined the band wagon with oomph by introducing the Vivo Maxx to the Kenyan market as an alternative to the tons of grey import compact vehicles roaming on our highways.
Based on the highly successful Vivo, the Maxx finds itself fighting the Ford Ecosport and Renault Sandero Stepway for a piece of the mini crossovers pie. The Maxx offers the best aspects of a crossover at the price of an entry level compact hatchback.
Based on the Vivo 1.4 Trendline, the Maxx has the ‘swag’ look with its raised ride height from 115 to 141 mm, unique195/55/R15alloy wheels, colour-coded exterior mirrors, aluminium roof rails, sporty decals along the bottom of the doors and dual exhaust tailpipes. Inside, the Maxx gets a titanium-look facia.
Inside the Maxx, it offers tons of space for the occupants with emphasis on seating comfort. Standard creature comforts include electric front windows, manual air-conditioner and a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel. Maxx comes with a powerful audio system that will satisfy most discerning audiophiles. It comes with MP3 playback, USB and SD connections as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
On full throttle, the 1,4-litre engine churns 63 KW @ 5,000 rpm and 132Nm @ 3800 rpm. This might not induce the much adrenaline rush that many desire but it certainly has allure.
Power is delivered to the front hoofs via a silky-smooth 6-speed automatic transmission supplied by Aisin. It is important to note that the choice by Volkswagen to utilise the Aisin gearbox rather than the DSG unit was to mitigate failure issues currently being experienced by grey import Polo owners.
That said, the Tip-Tronic facility allows the driver to make full use of the rev range and wring as much out of this engine as possible.
This translates into good fuel consumption and impressive acceleration times, so overtaking is not a laborious process.
Ride and Handling
To get a feel of the Maxx I took it out to the ‘Kiambu-Ring’ proving grounds that have a series of winding crests and dips, is suitable for testing the chassis and suspension set-up of the vehicle.
I liked the well-weighted steering that feels neutral beefs up at higher speed for better control. The front McPhersonstrut and rear integral link suspension in the Maxx is tuned for comfort both on and off-road however due to its higher stance driving aggressively leads to noticeable body roll on bends. Since the Max isn’t a GTI it’s always important to wear your sensible hat and not to push the Maxx beyond its inherent capabilities.
In terms of safety, the Maxx is equipped with driver and front passenger airbags, an immobiliser, central locking and ABS with EBD. This braking system helped the Vivo achieve an average 100 to 0 km/h stopping time of 3.3 seconds.
The Maxx offers a fun driving experience and a generous amount of standard specification. In my opinion, it’s a lot more solid than it’s rivals and looks like a great deal that should be considered . The list price by local dealer DT Dobie is Ksh. 1,865,000 VAT inclusive and customers are able to enjoy 90% asset financing courtesy of NIC Bank.
It also comes with a 3 year/120,000KM warranty and an optional Ksh. 99,000 3 year service plan to give you peace of mind.