The Ford Fiesta and VW Golf both made the top ten best-sellers list for 2020, with 43,281 registered Fiestas and 35,014 registered VW Golfs on the road. They’re strong, recognisable, veteran brands, and on the ‘consideration list’ for many people thinking about buying a new car.
For several years now, both the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf have maintained top spots in the most popular cars list in the UK.
Why are they so popular, you might wonder? The answer is simple: They both offer good value for money, specs and desirable exterior design.
Within this Ford Fiesta vs VW Golf guide, we discuss the similarities and differences between the VW Golf and Ford Fiesta to help you make the decision on which one you should lease and why.
If you’re after a quick summary, then our verdict is, for an all-rounder car, you can’t beat the VW Golf. But if you want more bang for your buck, then choose the Fiesta, as it still has engines and trim levels a-plenty for you to choose from.
The Ford Fiesta is cheaper than the VW Golf by quite a considerable way and reviews are similar when styling, miles per gallon, running costs, environmental impact, performance, design, practicality, and safety are considered, though the VW Golf does beat the Ford Fiesta in most standard tests, even if it’s only marginally in some instances.
Preference really depends on what you’re looking for in a car, and there is a lot to consider. For a more in-depth analysis of how one car compares to the other, please read on.
Design and Styling
Both Ford and VW create attractive, trendy cars, but they’re different enough that you’re sure to steer towards one or the other depending on your personal taste.
The new Golf 8 range, for example, comes with 30-colour ambient lighting and with ten exterior colour options, including classic black and lime yellow metallic. You can also choose a more subtle Oryx white mother-of-pearl, which is their most expensive shade, but will likely give your car a more ‘sophisticated’ appearance.
There are at present, 11 different trim levels available for the VW Golf, and do keep in mind there’s often the option of a DSG automatic gearbox to go with these cars, too. VW has packed their latest Golf with a generous level of standard equipment, maybe slightly justifying the higher starting prices. Life models’ equipment roster includes 16-inch alloy wheels in a design called Norfolk, automatic wipers and LED headlamps, front and rear parking sensors and a very fancy 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen.
When looking at the styling on the outside of a VW Golf, it’s all quite similar to previous models, with the most prevalent changes retained for the front end, which follows the example set by the Touareg and Passat. Whereas previous Golfs have featured headlights and grilles that cut into the leading edge of the bonnet-line, on the latest car, they hang below, with a very thinner upper air intake. The dimensions of the VW Golf, are 4,258-4,639 mm L x 1,789-1,799 mm W x 1,458-1,515 mm H.
So now onto the Ford Fiesta. There are ten versions of the Fiesta, and they vary in appearance and spec to suit personal taste and driving styles. The Fiesta also comes in ten colour variants, from Bohai Bay Mint to Orange Spice.
All Fiesta models come with the touchscreen media system, air con, LED headlamps, lane keeping assistant, a heated windscreen and front fog lamps. Trim levels are numerous. To simplify it, ST Line means more sporty, Titanium means less sporty, anything with an X on it means better specs and Vignale means highest spec. Including a stitched leather dashboard.
In its recent models, Ford has worked on softening and simplifying the design; using straighter lines or, in the case of the bonnet bulge, removing them entirely. The dimensions of the new Ford Fiesta is, 4,040-4,068 mm L x 1,735 mm W x 1,466-1,495 mm H, which makes the Ford Fiesta smaller in size than the VW Golf.
The biggest difference on the newer models of Ford Fiesta is that they are 71mm longer in the wheelbase so you get more rear space, the wheels are pushed out further so it handles better, and the chassis is 15% stiffer for the same purpose.
With all this in mind, it’s true that both the VW Golf and Ford Fiesta can be dressed up or down depending on your preference. In the battle of style, it’s all about the way you like your car to look.
MPG, running costs and environmental impact
In terms of miles per gallon, the Golf is the most fuel economic car of the two. The Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend 85PS offers 81MPG, whereas the VW Golf 2.0 TDI Life 115PS gives a slightly better 82MPG.
Volkswagen wins on the environmental front, too. The 115PS TDI releases 113g/km of CO2 under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, and they’re slightly ahead of the Ford Fiesta petrol 1.0-litre EcoBoost, which emits slightly more, at 116g/km. If environmental consciousness is your thing, Ford’s 1.0 litre mild-hybrid model is for you, as it releases a much more competitive 114g/km, but it still can’t beat off the Volkswagen.
There’s not much difference in overall running cost, either. The cheapest Ford Fiesta over 3 years and 3,000 mile was the Fiesta Hatch 3Dr 1.5TDCi 85 SS Trend 6 20.75MY, which cost around 51.89p per mile to run. From the VW Golf fleet, the cheapest to run was the Golf Hatch 5Dr 1.0TSI 110 SS Life 6 21MY, which cost 51.96p, so the Fiesta just pips the Golf to the post when we’re talking about efficiency.
Road tax on the Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend comes in at £215 annually whereas the Golf 115PS TDI road tax is £150 annually. So, for the those wanting to save some money, might be leaning towards the Ford Fiesta over the VW Golf at this point.
Based on MPG, running costs and environmental impact in the choice of Ford Fiesta vs VW Golf, the Golf comes out top for MPG and environmmental costs, but Fiesta beats it on running costs, offering a more fuel efficient model.
Engine, Drive and Performance
Recent reviews of the Ford Fiesta by Auto Express give it an Overall Auto Express rating of four out of five, and it achieved the same score for Performance and Drive. Reviewers described it as fun, well-balanced and agile. Bumps hardly faze this smart, quick and nifty vehicle.
The 94bhp EcoBoost model takes 10.6s to go from 0-62mph, which improves to 9.9s for the 123bhp engine (9.4s for the hybrid version) and to 8.9s for the 153bhp unit. The 1.5T EcoBoost powers the ST-badged cars from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, while the 84bhp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel manages the sprint in a slower 12.4s, sending its power through a six-speed manual gearbox.
There’s no difference in price between the most powerful and least powerful engines, but reviewers reported that the mid-performance engine was powerful enough for most, and should not be shunted on the basis of a figure.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all cars, with the exception of the 1.1L Ti-VCT five-speed manual, and the 123bhp petrol version which is offered with a seven-speed DCT auto ‘box.
There are two different suspension set-ups at launch. The Zetec, Titanium and Vignale have a comfort-oriented setup. This standard chassis holds on to the familiar Fiesta sense of agility and feel as you maneuver it into a bend. The ST-Line is even more sturdier. Due to the lower ride, stiffer springs, firmer dampers, stronger rear twist-beam and firmer front anti-roll bar, and even re-calibrated steering assistance and ESP tune. That is why the car body roll is always lower, the steering more precise, even when there’s a heavy cornering load.
The Golf receives the same rating in terms of Overall Auto Express rating, with a solid four out of five stars, and is reported to have a ‘fine blend of handling, practicality, great build quality and a classy image’. Reviewers said it handles bumps and imperfections gracefully, and is described as ‘safe and predictable’.
The entry level 1.0-level three-cylinder petrol delivers 0-62mph in 10.2s, so it’s slightly faster than the Ford Fiesta, but the GTE plug-in hybrid beats everything, offering 62mph in as little as 6.7 seconds, while the GTI model is even quicker at 6.4s. For all it’s good qualities, it does come with reviews of road noise and engine drone, something that was not reported as part of Ford Fiesta reviews.
Volkswagen hasn’t released official 0-62mph times for the 113bhp and 148bhp diesel versions, although it quotes a 7.1s sprint for the GTD model.
When comparing a Fiesta to the top of the range VW Golf R, it simply cannot keep up.
At one point the R pumped out 306bhp, which is 79bhp more than 227bhp Golf GTI, although later WLTP-compliant versions pegged this back to 296bhp. Maximum torque is 400Nm, and the car promises to sprint from 0-60mph in under five seconds.
In comparison, the fastest Fiesta is the 1.5T EcoBoost Manual, with its 200hp and will reach 0-65mph in 6.5 seconds.
The VW Golf now comes with two different rear axles depending on which version you choose. VW Golfs with less than 150hp and front wheel drive get a torsion beam, those 150hp and above or with all-wheel drive (Currently just the R) get a multilink set up. You may have already guessed, the multilink option is more sophisticated but it’s also much more expensive, so you only get it on faster, pricier models.
If you’re steering towards the VW Golf, you’ll be glad to find a cabin crammed with useful features. New Golf’s are still recognisable, but they’re cleaner and smarter, and different in a way that’s still Golf. There’s touch screen tech everywhere. You’ll benefit from alloy wheels and coloured bumpers, door handles, side mirrors, and LED lights no matter which model you choose.
All new Golfs come with a 10-inch touchscreen display as standard, and it’s logical and attractive. You’ll get sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you’ll be well connected wherever you are. There’s also front and rear parking sensors across all models.
If you’re leaning towards the Ford Fiesta, you’ll be pleased to hear it is bursting with soft touch materials. There’s a 8-inch display screen (2 inches smaller than the standard golf one), but it suitably positioned away from heat controls so that there’s no concern around tapping the wrong thing at the wrong time, a flaw reported in the Golf. Parking sensors are provided as standard in all models besides the base Trend versions.
Fortunately, for the Fiesta, the previous interior has been significantly updated in the newest models. According to Ford, its replacement halves the number of switches and buttons, many of them having been relocated to a new 8.0in touchscreen – although Zetec models make do with a 6.5in version and entry-level Style models get smartphone dock and a 4.2in TFT screen.
Entry-level shapes come with 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning Bluetooth and touchscreen. Sat-nav, rear parking sensors and cruise control are reserved for more expensive models.
There’s no use having all of the bells and whistles if your car is not practical. This will be a particular concern of yours if you have a family, or if you need extra room because your life involves moving lots of things in your car. So how practical is the VW Golf versus the Ford Fiesta?
VW have dropped their three door cars and the new VW Golf models are practically shaped, giving a great view from any angle for drivers and passengers alike. They’re tall, so those of you who are over six foot will have no problem at all fitting behind a well-positioned steering wheel. Adjustments are easy to do and wide-ranging, so you’ll have plenty of range to find a comfortable driving position. There’s plenty of room in the back for your passengers and lots of room for their luggage in the boot. New VW Golf vehicles have 381 litres of boot space.
The Ford Fiesta is reviewed as having an excellent driving position, for both taller and shorter drivers. It’s a narrow car, but it is tall and long, and there’s more than enough legroom and headroom in the back to seat even tall adults comfortably. There’s slightly less space in the boot than is offered in the VW Golf, just 311 litres, but the boot opening is wide, and putting down the back seats will give you a total of 1,093 litres.
Reliability and safety
This is probably the most important aspect of any car purchase. You don’t want your car to break down, and you certainly don’t want to be the cause of an accident that harms you or anyone else, so whatever your car looks and feels like, reliability and safety are probably the aspects of your purchase you should take most seriously.
VW has a wonderful reputation of safety and dependency. There’s driver fatigue detection across all models and lots of emergency assist functions, to reduce the chances you’ll be involved in an accident. If you buy the Golf Mk8, you’ll get an advanced system, which communicates wirelessly with other vehicles with similar capabilities, warning the driver of roadside hazards and a variety of other potential issues, including other vehicles violently applying their brakes.
When Euro NCAP put the Golf through a safety test in 2019, it was given a five star rating. It achieves 95% for adult occupant protection and 89% for child passenger safety, which are both excellent scores.
The Ford Fiesta has a whole host of new hi-tech safety gear to help keep motorists safe on the road. This includes adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking, both incredibly useful tools for safety. Their advanced technologies designed to protect you, your passengers and your vehicle, in the event of an accident. Key features include Pre-Collision Assist and Door Edge Protectors. The Fiesta also received a five star rating for safety from NCAP, though it’s percentage scores were a little poorer than those of the Golf. It scored 87% in adult occupancy safety and 84% for child occupant safety.
The Ford Fiesta comes with a standard three year, 60,000 mile warranty. The VW Golf offers the same, so there is no difference in value for money here.
Cost and deals
The Ford Fiesta starts at £16,385, whereas the VW Golf is slightly higher priced, starting at £21,465. If money is your main concern, then you should look at buying the Ford Fiesta. Though it doesn’t score as well as VW Golf in most categories, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, and still scores fairly well across most elements of review.
The higher costing Ford Fiesta is £26,780, which means you can buy an all singing and dancing model for a fairly reasonable price. The higher end of the VW Golf buying scale is £37,710.
In terms of insurance groups, the Fiesta’s entry-level petrol belongs to a lowly group 4. Meanwhile, the fastest ST-3 is in group 28.
In comparison, the entry-level golf 1.0 TSI Life 5d is at insurance group 15, whereas their fastest The Golf R falls into group 29.
With this in mind, both the Fiesta and Golf are considered to be insurance-friendly cars.
To make greater savings all round, here at Hippo Leasing, we offer some of the best UK lease deals on both the Fiesta and Golf.
Volkwagen and Ford produce very different cars, so it’s surprising they’ve come up with vehicles that are almost on par on almost every aspect of review. Their various models offer eco-friendly models for those who care, and power and technology for those interested in a more modern and sporty feel.
Both cars are attractive and comfortable to drive, with plenty of space inside, a good amount of boot space, a variety of colours to choose from, impressive features fitted as standard, good suspension, and a smooth drive.
That being said, if we take safety and reliability into consideration, the Golf comes out on top, scoring an impressive 95% for adult occupant safety versus the Fiesta’s 87%.
But there is a giant difference in cost. You’ll pay just £5,000 more for the highest Ford Fiesta model than you’ll pay for the very basic VW Golf, and if you want everything the Golf comes with, you’ll have to fork out almost £40,000 for the privilege.
There are positives and negatives to both the VW Golf and the Ford Fiesta, and it’s up to you to weigh up what is most important to you before you buy. If it’s cost, go for the Ford Fiesta. If it’s boot space and performance choose the VW Golf.
If after reading this guide, you want to lease the VW Golf, then you can do so for as little as £184.17 monthly.
Or, if you’ve got your heart set on the Ford Fiesta, then they’re available from just £131.99 monthly.