Everybody’s doing it—comparing the new Ford Fiesta with other little cars, the VW Polo in particular. I admit that driving a Fiesta. Made me think of Polo. And I must say Tony Hill of Volkswagen (GB) Ltd. did a fine piece of PR work. I rang him about 11 o’clock one morning, to fix a test. He had a car just back from test by another paper, had it checked over, gave me the all-clear before lunch,and it was at the Motor Sport offices before 4 that afternoon. I then drove it some 200 miles that evening. It was the 1,093 c.c. LS, so was not strictly comparable with the 957 c.c. Fiesta L I had sampled. But it was difficult not to do this. Polo has softer suspension than Fiesta, so the Ford sits on the road better and is thus more fun to fling about. Not that you cannot corner very fast and safely in a Polo. The seats in the Fiesta, although smaller, seemed more comfortable, at least until I had adjusted the Polo’s seat-squab so that it did not hurt the small of my back. The Polo had a nicer clutch action and certainly a nicer ride over rough stuff. Its high-grade interior decor, the precision of its controls, and the quality of keys and fittings, etc., reminded me of my once-beloved Beetle—you had to open a window before shutting a door, as on the old well-sealed VW.
Where the Polo really scores is in respect of the surprisingly low noise-level of its engine. The 5-bearing, light-alloy o.h.c. power pack runs with turbine-like smoothness and more sound emanates from the tyres, 13 in. radial-ply tubeless Metzeler Soper Steels on the test car, than from this incredible little engine. The gear-change hasn’t quite the velvet of some of the Fiesta’s movements but is very good. It used to be said that the hall-mark of a big car was that it should feel small to its driver. Conversely, a good small-Car should give an impression of size, which the VW Polo does, although in what they call the Super-Mini class, It seems bigger. more of a class-car, than the Fiesta. It is indeed surprising how effortless and capacious the modern Super-Minis are, making them quite painless for even long journeys. Perhaps it is time for a new generation of genuine small cars, like the Fiat 126 and Citroen 2cv but less pedestrian ? The Polo has been criticised because of the sill to the base of its tailgate Opening. Unless you indulge in regular heavy haulage with your private car, I cannot see that this matters, much and certainly the VW has a more sophisticated third-door action than the Ford. But I would have liked a temperature-gauge on the facia, as on the Fiesta. But if comparisons have to be made one must take into account the Fiesta’s lower insurance rating and cheaper spares, set against the price of both cars and the cost of VW spares. An exhausting exercise, which makes me glad I am not in the market for either. You would need to weigh up the price of essential extras on both cars and set the 10,000 Polo service periods against the Fiesta’s 6,000 miles… .
I will just say that I found the £2,499 VW Polo an extremely good small-car. It gave 38.2 .m.p.g. of 2-star fuel, Which enables one to view the next fuel crisis with equanimity. It was a delight to drive and occupy, and so refined that, in spite of its dimensions, modest engine size and economy, it could well represent a thoroughly satisfactory first-car for many owners. The test car had a tow-hook for a 650 kg, trailer, to show this car can also be quite a workhorse. Perhaps I should now go out in a Fiesta Ghia.—W.B.