Sometimes it’s just like all of the news in the B-segment, comes at us at the same time. Last year, the new Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo were presented shortly… after each other, and now the sporty versions of the Polo and Fiesta, the Polo GTI and the Fiesta ST, arrive in the Netherlands roughly around the same time. On paper, those cars are pretty similar. Both are 5-door, both cars will set you back at least €30.000, and both cars produce exactly 200 horsepower. The way they produce those 200 horsepower however, is totally different.Volkswagen has chosen for a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, which is quite a big engine for this segment. Ford however has chosen for a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine in the ST. The Polo is a true GTI. Rather subtle, not a lot of differences with the Polo R-Line, but it’s got a different grille, more red lines, a black rear spoiler… You can also forget about the leather, because the famous checkered upholstery is fitted in here as well. Something a lot of people like very much. Volkswagen absolutely loves red details on their GTI’s. It started in the past with a red line in the grille, and nowadays, there’s a red strip on the dashboard. And it’s standard! Right. A Golf GTI but then smaller, that’s the first impression the Polo GTI gives me. That’s mostly because you can only get it with a DSG as standard, the double clutch-gearbox. So it’s a 2.0-litre TSI with a DSG, and that has never been used before in a Polo GTI. That’s why it feels like a smaller Golf GTI, and the same goes for the drive.It’s a real all-rounder. The steering is pretty light at first, and if you corner hard, it understeers for an instant, but then it recovers and it will find the grip. It’s fitted with a electronic LSD, so exiting the corner goes smoothly. It’s not as sharp as the Fiesta ST though. That’s a typical difference which you see higher up as well, with the Golf GTI and Focus ST. They have different personalities as well. This is more of an allround car, but it’s very quick. It does 0-100 km/h in under seven seconds… In the B-segment, ladies and gentlemen. And that for a car which is this practical. It’s a typical GTI-combination, but if you ask me, they could give this car the Clubsport-treatment, just like they did with the Golf GTI.Or a Performance-version, or even a Polo R. It almost seems that they’ve intentionally held back on the GTI, so they’ve got room for something even
more extreme. It’s not like this car isn’t fun to drive or anything, but it just doesn’t have the hardcore edge like you have in a… Toyota Yaris GRMN, or a Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport, or a Clio RS. Those cars feel a little more fanatical. I mean, it’s a nice row of cars and all, but they aren’t cars I’d like to drive 30.000 km a year with. Doing 30.000 km in this car however, shouldn’t be a problem. The suspension is quite soft, but if you put the adaptive driving modes on Sport, the dampers become very sturdy. The sound it makes is always present, but it’s never too annoying. The guys at the Sound Engineering-department at Volkswagen… know what they’re doing. Also, there are lots of options available for the Polo.A digital instrument cluster for example, which doesn’t come as standard but is available as an option. You can easily select what you want to see on that. You also have this big satnav screen… So yeah, it’s all alright in here. A 3-cylinder engine in a car like this, that takes some getting used to. It’s not the most powerful 3-cylinder engine available, because the BMW i8 produces 231 from its combustion engine, which is a 3-cylinder as well, but this comes very close with its 200 horsepower. Marco already said it when he tested it when it was introduced: “The Fiesta ST is still a fun machine, just like it always was.” You’ll notice that immediately when you get in. The seating position is pretty low, with a very tight Recaro-seat, which feels like a true bucket seat.That’s a big difference with the Focus RS, because you’re too high up in there. And because of the engine, which produces quite a fierce sound, you really want to take it out for a drive. That said, the car doesn’t disappoint at all. The gear changes are incredibly smooth, the steering is very direct, in short, this car is aimed at sportiness. That has some disadvantages as well, because it’s very hard as well. The rear axle can become tiring if you encounter imperfections, and if you drive this car through a lot of neighbourhoods, or if you’re using it to drive to work every day, I’ll understand if it becomes a little tiring. That’s a very big difference with the Polo, which is more comfortable, but maybe less fun to drive because of that. Just like the Polo, you can choose between different driving modes. The differences between the modes are pretty small though, because the car will be bitey no matter what mode
it’s in. Where the Volkswagen has some understeer sometimes, the Fiesta immediately dives into the inside of the corner. You can really race through all of the corners, and that’s partly because of the Performance Pack, which comes with a mechanical LSD. So if you don’t get that, it might be less bitey, but as a whole, it’s a lot sportier than the Polo.When it comes to the interior, the Fiesta is less extreme than the Polo. That’s mostly because there are no brightly colored details in here. First and most of all, it’s a Fiesta. Sure, there’s some carbon in here and it’s got a sporty steering wheel. Also, just like the Volkswagen, the Fiesta has a very good trim. At Ford, most of the stuff is standard as well, instead of being an optional extra like you get on the Golf. The excessive infotainment system is standard, and even the Bang & Olufsen-system is standard. For the Netherlands, Ford has chosen to only bring… the most expensive trim level for the Fiesta ST. In other countries, you can get the ST 1 and ST 2, the Fiesta ST in the Netherlands is only available as ST 3, which means pretty much everything is standard.Also, it’s fitted with launch control. On a 3-cylinder. With a manual gearbox… That’s a rather special experience. As base models, both cars cost about the same. The Ford Fiesta ST is fitted with 18-inch wheels as standard, whilst you have to pay extra if you want 18-inch on the Polo, which has 17-inch wheels as standard. Also, if you tick other options for the Polo, it just becomes more expensive. Right, the conclusion then. You might’ve felt it coming. The Polo GTI is a very nice allrounder, in which you can easily do 30.000 km a year, but this is the car which is going to make you smile.And that’s what you want from a hot hatch, right? .