If you would like an “affordable” new sedan in today’s market, two of your best bets come from the VW Polo and Toyota Corolla Quest ranges.
VW has their Polo Sedan, which is an elongated version of the country’s best-selling passenger car.
Toyota has the Corolla Quest, which is a budget-friendly version of one of their best-selling models.
These value-oriented sedans compete directly with one another in a shrinking segment of the market – but as you’ll see below, the fight is not all that fair.
The Toyota Corolla Quest was recently updated with a new standard feature set and a new starting price.
The Exclusive trim is the most expensive variant, and it gets a lot of features to justify its spot in the line-up.
It is fitted with automatic climate control, leather seats and interior bits, and a large touchscreen Toyota Display Audio system.
The latter plays through a six-speaker layout, supports Bluetooth and aux connectivity, and displays a feed from the rear-view camera.
In addition, you will have follow-me-home LED headlights with daytime running lights, fog lights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and all-round electric windows.
The VW Polo Sedan Comfortline Tiptronic, at the other end, also sits at the top of its respective range.
It gets the latest infotainment system, fog lights, and a leather steering wheel and handbrake lever.
The seats are covered in “Cloud” cloth, though, and you only get four speakers for your infotainment needs – but the car does give you Bluetooth and aux functionalities, all-round electric windows, and cruise control.
It is also worth mentioning that features such as a rear-view camera, LED lights, automatic climate control, and rain-sensing wipers are available as optional extras.
At this price you do not get smartphone mirroring features, but both VW and Toyota have their own app which will connect with the car and offer several features over and above standard infotainment abilities.
Another blow to the Polo is that the entire Quest range gets keyless entry and push-button start, a feature that is not available from the VW in this car.
Safety and size
The Corolla Quest is given more safety systems than the Polo Sedan, but neither cars have much to brag about.
In VW’s defense, their sedan achieved a 4-star Asean NCAP safety rating through front airbags, ABS, and an electronic stability programme.
The Quest line, on the other hand, does not have an official crash test rating.
However, the previous generation Corolla model, which the Quest is based on, received a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was released in 2013.
Its systems are the same as those in the Polo sedan, with the addition of hill assist control; brake assist; and driver, passenger, knee, and side airbags.
Practicality was up next and is taken care of by the addition of several 12V plugs inside the cabin, cup holders for all passengers, and space for up to five people.
The Polo Sedan then pulls ahead for the first time and beats the Corolla Quest in luggage capacity by 2 litres – offering 454 litres of space in the boot.
Unlike the boot capacities, the actual sizes of the cars differ quite significantly.
The Polo Sedan is 4,390mm long, 1,699mm wide, and 1,467mm tall – and it gets 15-inch “Tosa” wheels, and has a kerb weight of 1,182kg.
The Corolla Quest stands at 4,620mm long, 1,775mm wide, and 1,485mm tall – and it gets 16-inch 5-V spoke wheels, and has a kerb weight of 1,305kg.
Neither of these cars claim to have any sort of strong performance characteristics.
They are both driven by the front wheels, both have top speeds under 200km/h, and neither can reach 100km/h in under 10 seconds.
They are frugal, though.
The 1.8-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol engine in the Corolla generates 103kW and 173Nm of torque, mated to a CVT transmission, and provides a claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.4l/100km.
On the Polo there is a 1.6-litre, naturally-aspirated motor that produces 77kW and 155Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, providing a claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.5l/100km.
The Toyota Corolla Quest Exclusive CVT is the most expensive Quest you can buy, at a South African price of R343,900.
Along with this you get a 3-year/100,000km warranty, a 3-services/45,000km service plan, and six exterior colours to choose from.
The VW Polo Sedan Comfortline Tiptronic is the most expensive model, too, and has a South African price of R310,900.
This gets you a 3-year/120,000km warranty, and seven exterior colours to choose from.