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Driven: Volkswagen's special edition Polo Vivo Mswenko

The Polo Vivo needs almost no introduction. It has been the best-selling passenger car model in South Africa for the past decade with a total of 261,285 units sold. Volkswagen has now updated its Polo Vivo range by adding a special edition called the Mswenko. This derivative is the first-ever Volkswagen with a South African name.

The term ‘mswenko’ translates to ‘swag’ in isiZulu, which is what Volkswagen aims to achieve with this special edition car. But is this derivative aptly named? I had the Mswenko with me for several days to see if it does and here’s what I think.

The interior

The inside of the Mswenko separates itself from the rest of the range with Ocean Blue colour seats, an anthracite headliner, silver dashboard inserts, App Connect, six speakers and a leather package that includes the multi-function steering wheel, gearshift lever and the gear knob.

I was fond of the colours of the seats and it is easily one of my favourite aspects of the Mswenko. The App Connect worked smoothly for me and there was no delay in connecting my device.


I disliked that the rear seats did not have electric windows, with an increase in price for this derivative, I think that should come as standard.

Overall, the differences the Mswenko offers interior wise are decent and it is worth the consideration.

The exterior

The exterior features Mswenko side decals, a chrome tip exhaust, 16-inch Portago alloy wheels in anthracite, a black painted roof, privacy glass and mirror covers in two colour variants.

I think the decals look awesome and I believe it makes the overall aesthetic of the car more stylish in comparison to the rest of the range. The black painted roof is a nice touch, I think it gives the Mswenko a more youthful appeal.


This special edition model will only be available in the following exterior colours; Pure White, Reflex Silver, Limestone Grey and Reef Blue. I had the Reef Blue colour test car and I liked how it complimented the black roof. I also get the feeling that this colour suits the personality of the Mswenko the best.


The Mswenko is based on the 1.4 Comfortline five-speed manual that delivers 63kW and 132Nm to the front wheels. The average fuel consumption is 5.9l/100km with a top speed of 177km/h.

I found the shift from first gear to second gear surprisingly smooth and switching gears in traffic was relatively easy. On highways, I noticed that the Mswenko’s 1.4 engine was not the best for overtaking other cars and for hassle-free lane changes.


However, it’s in the city where this car really feels at home. Driving on narrow roads and keeping in lower gears is where this derivative thrives because of its compact size and sufficient power.

Recommended retail price (VAT and emissions tax included)

The Polo Vivo Mswenko 1.4 63kW Comfortline costs R246,900. It comes standard with a three-year/120,000km warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty. A Volkswagen maintenance plan, as well as a Volkswagen service plan, are available as options. The service interval is 15,000km.

I found the slight design changes on the Mswenko pleasing, especially the chrome tip exhaust, black painted roof, and Ocean Blue seats. The non-existent rear electric windows and having to manually change the angle of side mirrors are examples of basic things I think the Mswenko should have considering that it's supposed to be modern. However, I believe the Mswenko won't fail sales-wise as it ticks many boxes, and I quite like that it has a specific South African appeal.

About Imran Salie

Bizcommnity Editor: IT, Automotive, Entrepreneurship. Imran loves all things technical and has a passion for the world of motoring. He keeps a close eye on the tech industry and has recently become infatuated with the entrepreneurship space in South Africa.

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