If you are looking for B-segment hatchback, you will be spoilt for choice and perhaps you will end up eye-to-headlight with these two vehicles. Both fall squarely in the exact market segment, and both are aimed at the same buyer demographic. Join us as we seek to find out what the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback and the Ford Fiesta S have to offer.
I have to say right off the bat, I’m not a big fan of the Ford Fiesta’s new front styling and I think that a car’s appearance is as important to a Fiesta buyer as any would-be hot-hatch buyer. The Fiesta carries a very cute and cheeky front grille that resembles a baby Aston Martin. While some might fall head-over-heels over its looks alone, others might want to get behind the wheel to convince themselves that it is worth the price tag. After all just being ‘cute’ ain’t gonna cut the mustard is it?
The VW Polo on the other hand wears the similar face that’s shared across the Volkswagen line-up. It sends a message that this car is nothing more than a mediocre hatchback bearing a Volkswagen badge. However, the VW Polo’s looks would appeal to more matured buyers who are looking for a simpler, less funky moving ‘object’ hence the reason why it is still one of the best contenders in its class, in terms of exterior looks.
While the VW Polo’s interior appears to be more conventional and well, a tad mundane, the Ford Fiesta has a very curvy design where you can barely find a straight line or flat surface inside the car including the glovebox. The seats are semi leather buckets with plenty of support for your back, and the Ford Fiesta also features steering controls for audio as well as ‘SYNC’ connectivity. The dashboard design is a very futuristic, mobile phone-inspired façade that catches the eye instantly and the Ice Blue lighting, which illuminates the dials makes the car look a little sporty. The Ford Fiesta’s interior ergonomics on the other hand, are near perfect. There is a plethora of buttons on the dashboard as well as on the steering wheel that allows you to access to the different functions of the car and the driving position is excellent, aided not only by a height adjustable seat, but an adjustable steering wheel as well.
Compared with the Ford Fiesta’s tech-savvy and ‘Futurama’ inspired cabin, the VW Polo’s interior seems very grown-up and conservative, to the point of being a little dull. The dashboard, steering wheel and materials used are of course something that you would have expected from Volkswagen, but look around the rest of the cabin and you’ll notice that it’s very plain and boring. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but it’s a far cry from the futuristic interior of the Ford Fiesta. For the VW Polo’s interior to impress, it depends very much on how you prioritise style and substance over pure pizzazz. If you want be wow-ed by this German brand, you should probably upgrade your vehicle to the VW Golf.
However, there is a good range of seat adjustments for the driver including height, good pedal placing, and a tilt and telescopic adjustable multi-function leather steering wheel. Apart from that, all-round visibility is excellent thanks to a large glass area.
3. Space and practicality
The Ford Fiesta is one of the roomiest amongst its rivals, so two adults will have plenty of space in the back seat while the front passenger and driver will have enough legroom and contoured seats for those occasional ‘spirited driving’ moments. Aside from that, there’s also a decent boot space and you can enlarge it by folding down the back seats to load bulky items.
However, rear-seat passengers will have more space and easier ingress and exit through the wide door openings of the VW Polo compared to the Ford Fiesta. While the boot is slightly smaller than the Ford Fiesta, honestly in the real-world, a 12-litre deficit would hardly make any difference in terms of boot space unless you stacked up a lot of suitcases in the back most of the time, the VW Polo is still a flexible, spacious supermini. Additionally, like the Ford Fiesta, the VW Polo also comes with folding rear seats that allows you to expand the boot size to create more space.
The Ford Fiesta is offered in only one variant, hence you don’t have to splurge for any additional options to keep yourself entertained. In the Ford Fiesta range, enjoyment has become entirely and impressively democratised. Hassle free isn’t it? There is a long list of standard equipment you’ll be getting along with the Ford Fiesta, such as 16-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, capless fuel filter, rain sensors, push start button, remote keyless-entry, automatic headlights with home safe lighting, power windows, rear parking aid with park pilot and power adjustable wing mirror with indicator as well as electronic automatic temperature control, just to name a few.
Oh, did I also mention that the Ford Fiesta comes with a SYNC- voice-activated in-car connectivity system? It allows you to access to your phone, including calls, sms’s, voice mails, as well as the in-car entertainment system all hands-free. Simply ‘voice-command’ your calls or play your favourite songs, and SYNC takes care of the rest, pretty cool isn’t it? We thought so too.
Well, what about the VW Polo? Nope, there’s no fancy sporty kit or premium kit offered, what you see is what you will get. The list of standard equipment includes 15-inch alloys wheels, a new RCD 320 Radio system with multi-language support, single CD player (WMA/MP3 compatible), USB and iPod interface, AUX-IN support, SD card slot, and Bluetooth connectivity for mobile, audio streaming, “Climatronic” automatic air conditioning system and cruise control. Unlike the Ford Fiesta, the VW Polo comes with automatic one touch up/down power windows for all four doors.
The Ford Fiesta is powered by a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT DOHC 16V engine that churns out 110bhp and 140Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed auto transmission with ‘Powershift’ that allows manual gear selection via a button on the gear stalk.
Behind the wheel, the Ford Fiesta is undoubtedly a fun car to be driven on long distance journeys or when tackling sharp corners. It has very minimal body roll and it is capable of providing confidence-inspiring grip that can be felt instantly.
Ride and handling is one of the best features in this car, plus the Ford Fiesta provides instant response compared to its rivals. The steering wheel and pedals are nicely weighted, too, while the gear shift is smooth and supremely accurate at guessing what gear you want to be in during any given type of driving condition.
However, there’s a shortage of low-down torque, so you have to rev it quite hard to pick up speed. If driving pleasure makes it anywhere near the top of your priority list when purchasing a B-segment hatchback, then you should test drive the Ford Fiesta first before looking at anything else.
The VW Polo on the other hand, is equipped with a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine that pumps out 102bhp and 153Nm of torque. The engine is coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic.
If you are looking for great feedback, amusement or light-hearted spirit in the VW Polo’s driving experience, then probably you should look elsewhere because the handling of this supermini is as sedate as the cabin and the steering feel is very light to a point of it being a little vague. I have to admit though, this is a car that drives like a grown-up rather than something with zip and zeal.
However, the VW Polo has a smoother and quieter petrol engine, which no doubt suits its overall personality. The VW Polo rides pretty well too. It cruises down the highways smoothly whilst on a poorly surfaced B-road its cabin remains well isolated and jolt-free. The ride is soft enough for all passengers to be comfortable as it absorbs most potholes and road bumps, but firm enough to make it decent to drive.
The Polo Hatchback and Ford Fiesta both have a very distinct personality of their own, they are equally tempting but for very different reasons. That’s because the VW Polo has a VW badge up front while the Fiesta has gathered a huge following among its growing fan base in Malaysia, since its introduction in 2010. If you’re one of the many thousands of people in Malaysia who think that B-segment cars are overpriced, then buying either the VW Polo or the Ford Fiesta would at least put a little smile on your face, since both hover around the very affordable RM80k neighbourhood.
So which one should you buy? Well, that all depends on you doesn’t it? Both have their good and bad points, both excel in what they were made to do, and both are priced at about the same. It all boils down to priorities and personal preferences. We’ve outlined how both fare and what both are capable and not capable of, so it’s really up to you. As for me, yeah, I bought one of those cars for myself, and I’m very happy with my decision. Care to guess which one?
Volkswagen Polo 1.6 CKD
Price: RM 87,888.00 (nett)
Engine: 4-cyls, 1598cc, petrol
Power: 102bhp @ 5250rpm
Torque: 153Nm @ 3800rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
0-100 km/h: 11.1 seconds
Top speed : 184 km/h
Ford Fiesta S
Price: RM 87,314.00 (nett)
Engine: 4-cyls, 1498cc, petrol
Power: 110bhp @ 6300rpm
Torque: 140Nm @ 4400rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic with SelectShift
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top speed : N/A