Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Volkswagen Polo vs Citroen C3

The new Ford Fiesta has some big shoes to fill. But is the outgoing model now a good used buy, or would one of its rivals be a better bet?

Words By What Car? team

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Our Verdict

We can see why you might be tempted by the CitroΓ«n C3. It’s a little different to the usual small car suspects, and still looks quite stylish, especially compared with the other two, rather plainer cars here. That style continues inside, too, with a snazzy dashboard, and what’s more, you get a comfortable ride, low running costs and a low purchase price.

The trouble is, the other two cars here are a cut above, which makes it hard to recommend the C3. It just feels stodgy and disconcertingly remote to drive, and what’s more, there isn’t much space in the back.

Were this a level playing field price-wise, the Volkswagen Polo would most likely take victory. It feels like a larger car than it is, with a comfortable ride, an upmarket interior and plenty of space. True, that dashboard is a bit dour, and the driving position isn’t perfect – but these are mere niggles.

But all prices are not equal in this test, and the Polo’s cost is more than just a niggle. It’s almost half as much again than the other two cars here, and while that’s a justifiable premium over the C3, it isn’t over the Ford Fiesta.

Granted, the Ford’s dashboard is nowhere near as good as the Polo’s, and the fact it didn’t come with alloy wheels as standard is a let-down too. But what you lose in equipment, you gain in enjoyment; the Fiesta is a car that never fails to put a smile on your face, whether you’re zipping around town, pelting down a country road or cruising along a motorway.

It’s also effortlessly easy to drive, cheap to fuel and maintain, reliable and crucially, no more expensive to buy than the CitroΓ«n. That, in our eyes, is more than enough reason for it to take first place.

Read our preview of the all-new Ford Fiesta

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1st – Ford Fiesta

For Amazing ride and handling; effortless in town; superb driving position; great value

Against Disappointing interior plastics; stingy kit; not the most versatile

Verdict Makes every journey a pleasure, and it’s one of the cheapest, most ubiquitous small cars

Rated 5 out of 5

Read our full used Ford Fiesta review

2nd – Volkswagen Polo

For Smooth ride; impressive noise damping; high-quality interior; simple dashboard; generous kit; strong resale values

Against High prices; offset pedals; bland to drive

Verdict The Polo is as classy, comfortable and refined as a bigger car, but it’s also almost as pricey to buy and run.

Rated 4 out of 5

Read our full used Volkswagen Polo review

3rd – CitroΓ«n C3

For Strong engine; comfortable ride; stylish, upmarket cabin; comparative rarity

Against Poor body control and steering; no stability control; rear-seat space

Verdict A cosseting ride and a plush interior aren’t enough to make up for the C3’s sloppy handling and cramped back seats.

Rated 3 out of 5

Read our full used CitroΓ«n C3 review

Also consider:

Specifications: CitroΓ«n C3 1.4 VTi 95 VTR+

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

List price when new Β£13,190

Price today Β£4000

Power 94bhp

Torque 100lb ft

0-60mph 10.3sec

Top speed 114mph

Fuel economy 47.9mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 136g/km

Specifications: Ford Fiesta 1.25i 82 Edge 5dr

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol

List price when new Β£13,124

Price today Β£4000

Power 80bhp

Torque 84lb ft

0-60mph 13.0sec

Top speed 102mph

Fuel economy 49.6mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 133g/km

Specifications: Volkswagen Polo 1.4 SE 5dr

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

List price when new Β£12,720

Price today Β£5500

Power 84bhp

Torque 97lb ft

0-60mph 12.5sec

Top speed 104mph

Fuel economy 47.9mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 139g/km

Price today is the guide price for a 2010 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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