By: Paul Kaganzi
Super mini cars are larger than the British Mini car but smaller than a family saloon car. They are usually hatchbacks and are popular with the budget conscious drivers. The battle of the super mini cars continues on the Ugandan used car market. The fourth generation VW Polo Mk4 super mini car has enjoyed prominence on the hatchback car market since the early1990s. Polo was produced with a variety of engines ranging from the petrol 1.2 litre, 1.4 litre, 1.6 litre and the diesel 1.9 litre. Toyota Corolla RunX is the “cousin” of Toyota Sprinter Allex as they share a similar platform (chassis), engine and drive train. The RunX replaced the Corolla Levin while Allex took over from the famous Sprinter Trueno. Their most popular engines are the 1.5 and 1.8 litre engines. In 2006 they were both replaced by the Toyota Auris.
The Polo 1.4 litre and RunX’s 1.5 litre petrol engines have a few things in common. They have multi-point electronic fuel injection and double overhead camshafts (DOHC) with variable valve timing intelligent (VVTi) rocking 16 valves. This ensures prompt and frugal delivery of fuel. If you are looking for more power, RunX is your choice. It is slightly bigger engine cubic capacity gives it faster acceleration and pulling power compared to the Polo. This will also appeal to the Ugandan frequent highway motorist who needs better acceleration and engine power to overtake and reach their destinations faster. The Polo is significantly more economical because of its smaller engine size and peak power at lower engine revolutions. Polo may be attractive to the city drivers who need a more economical yet fast enough car to deal with crawling Kampala city morning or evening traffic.
The Polo and RunX are both built with a sporty aerodynamic body structures and similar independent front and rear suspension. The suspension combination of front MacPherson struts, coil springs all round, lateral arms and torsion bars ensures reasonable road holding when driving on our Masaka Mbarara or Hoima highways our intermittently bad side road terrain. The Polo driver should not get so comfortable so as to over speed through the sharp bends because its steering feels lighter. Polo’s higher centre of gravity and narrower wheel base give it more body roll (sway) in extreme cornering situations than the wider and lower RunX.
STYLE & SAFETY
The Toyota Corolla RunX has more attractive exterior styling theme with bigger and modern looking lights, wider curves and sweeping angles which make it look bigger and more sporty when compared to the ‘taller and narrower’ Polo. This will appeal to the Ugandan drivers who are still ‘young at heart’. Polo and RunX have decent interior furnishing with the basic amenities such as air conditioning, power windows and CD stereo. However, RunX has a more modern looking vinyl interior décor with more comfortable upholstery and better legroom for both front and rear passengers. RunX will be the choice for a frequent family traveller because it has a bigger boot (loading) space. Safety is well catered for by the side impact in built door beams, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes and pre tensioning seatbelts which are available in both the Polo and RunX. However, Polo has higher crash test safety ratings from international test centres.
RELIABILITY & RESALE VALUE
Toyota RunX are both reliable vehicles from world renowned car manufacturers. However, their 16V DOHC engines require high grade engine motor oil and routine service with genuine parts. In Uganda the RunX and Polo have independent parts dealers who provide the routine engine service parts like filters. However, RunX has a better availability and pricing of the suspension and body parts either new or used.
The VW Polo wins two star points for better fuel economy and safety ratings. RunX wins the ‘face off’ with four points for better engine power and acceleration, superior road handling dynamics, bigger legroom and loading capacity as well as easier parts and repair maintenance in Uganda.