Twin Test: Small Hatchbacks

  •  This week the best-selling Fiesta takes on the popular Polo in our twin test
  •  Driving, practicality and cost all evaluated
  •  Find out which car comes out on top

If you’re in the market for a small hatchback that’s  compact and nippy enough for city life but can also hold its own  out on the motorway, then you’re in luck. Two of the best are also very popular so there are plenty to pick from on the used market. But which is better – Fiesta or Polo?

Ford Fiesta (2008 on) vs Volkswagen Polo (2009 on)


Ford’s long-standing reputation for producing cars with balanced handling continues with the current Fiesta. It’s agile and fun to drive but performance is dependent upon the engine chosen. EcoBoost petrols have plenty  of go but many find the TDCi diesels blend suffcient performance with fine fuel economy.

Ford's Fiesta

Although the Volkswagen lacks the Ford’s handling finesse it’s nevertheless an easy car in which to cover a lot of miles, majoring on comfort instead of fun. Non- turbocharged petrol engines are a little lethargic but most Polos with a TSI or TDI badge on the tail offer a good turn of pace without sacrificing fuel effciency.


Both cars provide similar amounts of space for passengers and their luggage, meaning a small family can squeeze a typical weekly shop into the boot without folding the seats. Although the Fiesta’s interior’s stylish and well-made, its plastics feel less expensive than the Polo’s meaning they could be more resilient to knocks, scuffs and bangs.

Volkswagen's Polo

Polos tend to be more expensive than their equivalent Fiestas which is partly  reflected in the quality of the soft-touch plastics used in the interior. The Volkswagen Polo’s slightly more upright body shape provides slightly more rear headroom and a perpendicular tailgate for carrying taller loads in the boot. Ideal for Ikea trips then.


Small cars invariably mean small running costs. Choose wisely and the Fiesta is no exception.  EcoBoost petrol engines might promise strong fuel efficiency but in reality  the Econetic diesel is the one to plump for to keep more money in your account. The lowest Band A VED car tax means there’s nothing to pay.

It’s more expensive to buy but the Polo is almost as cheap to run as the Fiesta with a range of effcient petrol and diesel motors. Stars of the range are the BlueMotion diesels with aerodynamic body parts to boost economy and lower  emissions. Again, free annual car tax is one of the perks of BlueMotion ownership.


Ford Fiesta

VW Polo





Fuel Capacity:

CO2 Emissions:

Road tax:

Insurance groups:

Boot space:

Petrol and Diesel, 1.0 to 1.6 litres

59-132 bhp

8.4-16.4 seconds


80 litres

87-154 g/km



276-960 litres

Petrol and Diesel, 1.2 to 1.6 litres

59-138 bhp

8.6-15.6 seconds

47-80 mpg

70 litres

91-139 g/km



280-952 litres


Ford Fiesta – Winner

On paper there’s little to choose between the Fiesta and Polo. Both offer similar amounts of space, cost about the same to run, they’re  well-built and have a wide choice of engines and trims to suit customers’ needs.

The Polo definitely feels like a more expensive product with its plusher interior, and it is in terms of purchasing  one, but the Fiesta counters that by being a more enjoyable  car to drive without sacrificing much in terms of ride comfort. The Polo is very good, but the Fiesta is the better bet.