Ford is an American auto manufacturer that first entered the UK in 1903, and continue to be one of the leading car companies across the nation. In 2018 alone, Ford came out on top as the more favoured car maker, selling 254,000 passenger cars in the UK.
Volkswagen, a German automaker in 1937, is the largest car manufacturer worldwide. In 2018, the company sold more than 10.8 million units globally with brands such as Bentley, Audi, Seat, Porsche and more.
For the best part of a decade, the Ford Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car, and arrivals of new models of the Fiesta have not dented the popularity of the manufacturer. But competition is fierce. Volkswagen Polo has long occupied the crowded supermini sector, offering even more space, usability and tech than others on the market.
The two cars have been going toe to toe since way back in the mid-70s. The first-generation Polo was first on sale in 1975, albeit a rebadged Audi 50. Just a year later, Ford introduced the Mk1 Fiesta. They also followed VW’s Polo Mk2 in 1981 with a second-generation Fiesta in 1983. With the Fiesta now in its seventh generation and Polo onto its sixth, it’s one of the longest-standing battles between two models.
Both vehicles have been through the rigorous hands of Euro NCAP, an independent organisation that specialises in the safety testing of vehicles. In the process, both the Fiesta and Polo earned a five-star rating.
Every Polo vehicle comes with an autonomous emergency braking system (AEB) that operates at urban speeds and can detect pedestrians. Volkswagen offers additional safety options, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert which scans the area while reversing, braking if it detects a potential collision that you haven’t spotted yet.
An impressive list of safety and crash-mitigation equipment is available on the Fiesta either as standard or optional. The AEB system does cost extra, although lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance are standard on all models. These two systems help to alert the driver when drifting into another lane without indicating. You can also choose to add driver assistance features such as traffic-sign recognition, driver fatigue monitoring, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning to make your drive even safer.
Ford has worked hard in recent years to claim an increase in cornering grip with electronic torque vectoring that enhances stability by reacting to the surface of the road 100 times a second. That allows the car to balance the amount of power delivered to the front wheels. As a result, the Fiesta’s steering is light, yet there’s plenty of grip making cornering sharp and easy.
Previous VW Polos are impressively quiet and are hard to beat when the road opens up. Newer Polos have a newfound sense of playfulness. The handling is easy, the suspension is impressively refined and the turbo engine makes it an enjoyable ride on British roads.
The Fiesta has been one of Britain’s most popular cars, and Ford clearly doesn’t want to disrupt their intelligent and recognisable design. New Fiestas are still reassuringly familiar while looking slightly more grown-up.
Different models come with their own unique styling touches, the most obvious being the sportier ST-Line and Vignale. The latter features a unique front and rear bumper along with the Vignale-style satin aluminium grille as seen on other Ford models. Overall, the design is consistent and fluid.
While it may have been revised beneath the bonnet, the MK6 Polo retains the classic appearance that has become iconic of Volkswagen’s supermini. Its smoothed out edges are paired with the revamped bumpers echoing the design of the MK5 for a sophisticated yet sporty look.
Cars tend to grow over time, with newer models offering more space than the outgoing version. For motorists, this is good news because superminis are now more practical than ever – yet still affordable.
In terms of boot space, the Fiesta is practical but not yet class-leading, with 292 litres of loading volume behind the rear seats. The VW Polo is goes one better with 350 litres, proving the Polo can indeed be space-friendly for small families or trips away.
Technology and interior
Depending on the model, the Fiesta has many options to include a touchscreen. What’s more, it offers excellent connectivity, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which makes choosing your favourite driving playlist a breeze. The more expensive trim levels offer a sat-nav, reversing camera and heated front seats, with electric windows, air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
The Polo is hot on Fiesta’s heels with their digital dashboard dials (called Active Info Display by VW), making it one of the more sophisticated cars in this class. All cars come with an infotainment screen, Bluetooth and air conditioning as standard, but there are options to include LED headlights, blind-spot detection, a self-parking system and more.
Fuel choice and BiK
When it comes to fuel economy, the 1-litre EcoBoost engine with 99bhp is Ford Fiesta’s award-winning engine, returning a claimed 50.4mpg and emitting 177g/mile of CO2. This makes the Fiesta a popular choice with individuals as well as businesses thanks to its 23% company-car tax rating.
When looking for diesel options, the most economical Fiesta is the 1.5-litre diesel with 84bhp. It can return 60.1mpg in mixed driving and emits 154g/mile of CO2 for a 26% BiK (benefit-in-kind) company-car tax rating.
The 94bhp 1-litre turbocharged TSI Polo engine is economy-friendly at 50.4mpg, making is pleasantly affordable to run. It also boasts low CO2 emissions of 169g/mile, while company-car drivers will be in line for an affordable BiK tax rate. When looking for the best economy, the single 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is a great buy, and this engine will return up to 55.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 164g/mile for the highest BiK rating in the range.