2014 Volkswagen Polo - rivals it has to beat

* 2014 Volkswagen Polo announced * Key rivals identified * Order books open in April...

2014 Volkswagen Polo - rivals it has to beat

The VW Polo is already a competent car but there are some key areas where the new model needs to improve on the old to rub shoulders with the best in the small car class.

Here are the cars the 2014 Polo needs to tempt buyers away from.

Ford Fiesta
Nothing in this class drives as well as the Ford Fiesta. Light controls, precise steering and a ride that stifles all but the worst imperfections mark it out as a small car of real class. There are nine engines available but our pick is the 1.0T Ecoboost petrol. Volkswagen’s new petrol Bluemotion Polo is expected to be a keen rival for this model though.

The Fiesta’s weaknesses are a fussy dashboard and a shortage of kit on the entry-level models. That aside, it is very impressive and What Car?’s Small Car of the Year for 2014.

Audi A1
The Audi A1 is a former What Car? Car of the Year and a few minutes spent with one will help you understand why. It all feels beautifully engineered and has the hallmarks of more expensive models in the Audi ecosystem. In particular, the interior quality is unparalleled in the class.

The place where the A1 does suffer against rivals is price. It's an expensive car to buy, although strong residual values mean you're not throwing away your money.

Hyundai i20
There is plenty to commend the Hyundai i20 if you simply want something economical to run and affordable buy. All models come with generous equipment and if you opt for the 1.1 CRDi diesel model, you get the free road tax, thanks to the measly emissions figure of 84g/km of CO2.

Residuals are no better than average but if you plan on keeping hold of the car for a while, you do benefit from Hyundai’s unlimited-mileage, five-year warranty.

Honda Jazz
If reliability and practicality are what you seek from your small car, the Honda Jazz is the undisputed champion. It has hovered around the top spots of the JD Power reliability survey since its launch, and load control systems in the boot and rear seats mean it can cope with loads far chunkier than you’d think.

It is not all good news for the Jazz however. Several rivals are better to drive, and in terms of fuel economy, the expensive hybrid and lack of a diesel mean it can be beaten by many rivals on running costs.

Vauxhall Corsa
The venerable Vauxhall Corsa has been around for a long time, but a replacement is on the cards for late 2014, so there are some excellent deals around. Vauxhall is already offering five-year interest-free finance, deposit contributions and specification boosts on various models. If you keep your cars for a few years, the lifetime warranty should sweeten the deal still further.

Entry-level Corsas are less spartan than they once were, but all models drive neatly enough and are well screwed together. The 1.3 CDTi diesel is the pick of the engines, but for far less money, the 1.4 petrol offers good performance and acceptable economy.

By [Nigel Donnelly](http://plus.google.com/u/0/1000970594875601337310 ?rel=author)