2006 FORD FIESTA 1.4i 5Dr For Sale in Western Cape, BellvilleR 69900
THE hot hatch has been around for quite a time now, the genre, as we know it today, begun by the first VW Golf GTI. Almost inevitably in the auto world, though, as the GTI and its ever growing string of rivals progressed and developed, they became bigger, heavier and more powerful (and certainly no less competent), which naturally created a marketing opportunity for “back to basics” smaller versions. Which is where the new VW Polo GTI comes in. The Golf GTI has become an icon, a benchmark, but is a far more sophisticated and upmarket – and expensive – tool than the original. Polo comes in as a (admittedly not cheap) step along the way for aspirant Golfers. Question is: does it deliver the right punches in the lower weight division?
To find out, we pitched it against our current junior hot hatch favourite, Ford’s Fiesta ST. Back in August 2005, it blew away the Mini Cooper, Peugeot 206 GTi and Fiat Punto HGT to be hailed as offering “… great handling, and faultless interior quality at a price that makes it very appealing”. Just over a year on, then, can the ST hold on to its crown in the face of what, on paper at least, appears to be a dapper contender from VW?
DESIGN AND PACKAGING
Fiesta ST 17/20
Polo GTI 16/20
When it comes to looks, there can be no doubting what the Fiesta ST is all about. It stands there simply looking for a fight, especially with (optional) bold striping representing a tattoo of intent. At the front, there is a huge lower air intake with a matching (but much smaller) “diffuser panel” below the rear bumper. Headlamps are essentially diamond shaped, whereas the taillamps are stacked vertically alongside the tailgate glass. Sill extensions are body coloured, and the 17-inch 11-spoke alloy road wheels look really purposeful, as does the tailgate spoiler. ST is available only as a three-door.
The only real giveaway to the Polo GTI’s potential is the large grille/lower air intake highlighted with the trademark GTI thin red line. The limited amount of sporty body kit – even the tailgate spoiler – is relatively subtle. Five-hole 16-inch alloys are fitted. Otherwise it is pretty much standard Polo fare – which, to be fair, is no bad thing. Stylised front and rear lamp clusters are distinctive without being over the top. Polo GTI comes as a five-door, complete with a third side window that helps balance the shape and make the cabin light. The test unit was fitted with an optional sunroof.
There is just 1 mm difference in overall length, but the Fiesta has a 25 mm longer wheelbase that greatly benefits interior space. Rear room in the Ford is much better than in the VW, but the advantage is spoiled by front seats that tip but do not automatically slide forward to allow access to the back. Irritating. The Polo counters with a bigger boot (232 vs 208 dm3) and greater utility space (848 vs 832 dm3), and offers a fullsize alloy spare under the boot board, compared with the Fiesta’s steel space-saver. The ST’s tailgate aperture is more symmetrical and practical than the GTI’s. Loading heights for both are around 675 mm.
COMFORT AND FEATURES
Fiesta ST 15/20
Polo GTI 16/20
ST’s two-tone cabin features some sporty front bucket seats (and a generously-sized rear seat), with upholstery in black leather with patterned woven-cloth inserts. The driver’s chair has cushion height adjustment. The rear seat backrest is split 60:40 but the cushion is a single piece that tips forward when required. Height adjustable head restraints and three-point seatbelts are fitted in all five seating positions. Front windows are power operated with one-touch down for the driver, and the rear side windows are fixed. Small storage bins are provided in the doors and rear quarter panels, the facia has a big cubby, and there are map pockets behind the front seats. ST logos appear on the front seats and rake-adjustable steering wheel, with the gear knob insert in matching red and silver.
GTI’s dark cabin creates a typically Teutonic sombre ambience, and the front seats are not quite as form-hugging as the ST’s, but both have cushion height adjustment. Tartan-like pattern/plain woven cloth upholsters the seats. Both the backrest and cushion of the rear seat are split 60:40, the latter rising and tipping forward to accommodate cargo. Again, threepoint seatbelts and head restraints are fitted all round, but the GTI’s front head restraints have tilt as well as height adjustment. Electric windows all round incorporate one-touch up/down for both front door panes. Narrow front door pockets, a moderate facia cubby, a shelf running underneath the facia, and drawers under the front seats help contain odds and ends. Apart from the GTI logo on the lower spoke of the rake- and reachadjustable steering wheel, there is some attractive red stitching on the steering wheel rim, handbrake, gearshift gaiter and the edges of the seatbelts.
Feature-wise, both cars have air-conditioning, electric mirrors (heated on the GTI), headlamp beam height adjustment, trip computer, and front and rear foglamps. ST has a custom radio/6-disc CD player with satellite controls on a lower left-hand column stalk, and four speakers. The GTI’s unit has MP3 capability, too, and boasts eight speakers. Each car’s instrumentation includes a rev-counter, speedometer and fuel and coolant temperature gauges, the GTI’s being more conventional in style than the slightly odd-looking ST’s. When the ST’s front wipers are active, the rear wiper automatically operates when reverse is selected. Our test Polo was fitted with optional cruise control. Both cars have dimpled aluminium pedals, but whereas the Fiesta’s footwell is tight and has no rest for the left foot (it has to be slid under the clutch pedal), the Polo’s is wider and contains a proper rest.
Remote central locking is common to both, with the ST having two airbags, and the Polo four.
RIDE, HANDLING AND BRAKING
Fiesta ST 18/20
Polo GTI 15/20
We were expecting the Fiesta ST to live up to its reputation of being a great handling car, and it did not disappoint. There is nothing fancy about the suspension – MacPherson struts up front, torsion beam axle located by trailing arms at the back – but the car’s track dimensions are relatively wide, and the hydraulic power steering is nicely-geared, which, together with the substantial 205/40 by 17-inch tyres, help create a superb point and squirt machine. Point the front where you want it go, apply the power, and the rear follows faithfully. Utterly benign and predictable, and oblivious to quick changes of direction. The ride is hard, yes, but any enthusiast worthy of the name would not be put off by it. All-disc brakes, ventilated at front and controlled by ABS with EBD, are excellent, too.
With its 205/45 rubber on 16- inch rims, plus narrower front and rear tracks, the slightly heavier Polo GTI is already at a disadvantage. The suspension set-up is similar to the Ford’s, but it is a softer-handling package that will be seen by many as overall more comfortable, but lacking the bite one expects from a really sporty car. If you can imagine a “grand touring hot hatch”, then this would be it… Steering has electrohydraulic power assistance, which is as good as any we have experienced, but just lacks that extra bit of feedback. The brakes (bigger diameter up front but less at the back when compared with the ST) are good, but not as effective as the Ford’s.
Fiesta ST 16/20
Polo GTI 17/20
Even closer than the scores suggest (thanks to rounding off), the slightly less powerful but more torquey turbocharged 1,8-litre GTI has the edge over the naturally aspirated 2,0-litre ST. The Ford’s twin-cam 16-valve four produces 112 kW at 6 500 r/min, and 190 N.m of torque at 4 500. The benchmark 0-100 km/h sprint takes 8,6 seconds, and maximum speed is 203 km/h, achieved just below peak power revs. ST covers the standing kilometre in 29,67 seconds at a terminal speed of 178,2 km/h.
The turbocharged, intercooled, dual overhead-cam, 20-valve GTI motor is, yes, a sophisticated power unit, producing 110 kW at 5 800 r/min, and 220 N.m between 1 950 and 4 500 r/min. Zero to 100 km/h takes 8,4 seconds, the kilometre is dispatched in 29,25 seconds at 182,1 km/h, and the max speed of 215 km/h is reached at just over peak power revs.
Very little in it, then, but there are differences in delivery, with the ST gettingup- and-going with linear thrust, whereas the GTI is more off/on as the turbo comes into play. The ST is noticeably rortier than the GTI.
Fiesta ST 16/20
Polo GTI 15/20
You could be lulled into thinking that a relatively powerful engine in a light-ish body should result in reasonable economy, but of course these cars are geared to perform so that is not likely to be the case. In the event there is not a big difference between them, the 2,0-litre Fiesta achieving a CAR fuel index (an overall, mixed driving figure) of 9,1 litres/100 km, and the 1,8-litre turbo Polo a slightly thirtsier 9,59 litres/100 km. Both cars have only a 45-litre tank, so neither will exceed 500 km on a tankful, although the Fiesta will get close.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Fiesta ST 17/20
Polo GTI 16/20
Fiesta ST sells for R171 950 and includes in the price a 3 years/ 100 000 km warranty, a 5 years anti-corrosion warranty, and 3 years roadside assistance. Servicing is required every 20 000 km. The three-door styling may prove a practical handicap to some, but it does lend itself to some sporty styling, which the Ford takes full advantage of. Build quality is not quite up to the Polo’s standard, but is still good. All the right amount of spec is included, making the ST an attractive buy.
At R188 700, the Polo GTI is considerably more expensive, but the extra pair of doors and inherent quality goes some way to explaining the difference. But, overall, it is no better specced than the ST. A 3 years/120 000 km warranty, and 12 years anti-corrosion warranty is included in the pricing, and service intervals are 15 000 km. Polo GTI is a premium product, no question, but the extra outlay may not be justifiable to some.
Fiesta ST 17/20
Polo GTI 16/20
Gloves off: it is time to announce the winner. The Fiesta ST looks ready to rumble even standing in the ring, whereas the Polo GTI has an air of confident superiority. The streetwise fighter against the trained athlete. But the Ford shows little or no respect for imagined – or deserved – status. It wins this scrap by virtue of being precisely what a junior hot hatch should be: good looking, quick, and with dynamics that stretch a driver’s smile from corner to corner. The VW is defeated – bruised, but far from battered…
Buy a VW Golf Gti on South Africa’s most trusted car marketplace.
Contact the Seller
Manual FORD FIESTA 1.4i 5Dr for sale by WP MOTORS in South Africa.