Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI - story fullscreen Fullscreen

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI

The i20 N, the Fiesta ST, and the Polo GTI get together on the drag strip for a series of straight-line races

Mat Watson and his team from ‘Carwow’ brought three hot budget hatches to the drag strip. The contenders were the Hyundai i20 N, the Ford Fiesta ST, and the Volkswagen Polo GTI. All of them make in the whereabouts of 200 horsepower. The fact that every car has an aspect where it shines the best and is better than its competitors makes up for an interesting race. Which hatch do you have your money on?

The Hyundai i20 N Offers The Best Horsepower And Is The Lightest

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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The i20 N is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine that makes 204 HP and 203 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and FWD system
The Hyundai i20 N is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 204 horses and 203 pound-feet of torque.

Power is routed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. It weighs 2,624 pounds.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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The Ford Fiesta ST comes with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbo mill that puts out 200 HP and 214 lb-ft of twist. This also features a six-speed manual and FWD system
The Ford Fiesta ST comes with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged mill that puts out 200 horses and 214 pound-feet of twist.

A six-speed manual gearbox drives the front wheels in this case, too. Despite the three-pot engine, it is slightly heavier than the i20N, weighing in at 2,767 pounds.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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The VW Polo GTI features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo mill that produces 200 HP and 236 lb-ft of twist. It comes with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and FWD system
The Volkswagen Polo GTI features the biggest engine – a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill that produces 200 ponies and 236 pound-feet of twist.

It also comes with a front-wheel-drive system, but unlike a manual gearbox in the other two, this one features a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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The i20 N weighs 2,624 pounds, the Fiesta ST 2,767 pounds, and the Polo GTI 2,987 pounds. Also, the Ford and the Hyundai have limited-slip front diffs, but not the VW

It is the heaviest of the lot, weighing in at 2,987 pounds. Another point of difference is that the Ford and the Hyundai come with limited-slip front diffs, but not the Polo.

They Face Each Other In Four Drag Races and Four Rolling Races

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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They faced each other in four drag races! The results were different in almost all of them, but the one constant thing was how well the Hyundai launched off the line in all four races. In the first race, the Hyundai almost got the win, but Fiesta ST managed to catch up with it in the end. The Polo came last despite a dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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Next up were the rolling races. The first one was from 50 mph from the fifth gear. The Polo GTI won this race, the i20 N came second, and the Fiesta ST third

In the second race, the i20 N left both the hatches in the dust. It won by a decent margin as per drag race standards. This time, the Polo GTI came second and the Fiesta ST came third. The third race again saw the Polo come last, the Fiesta ST second, and the i20N claiming the bragging rights. The fourth race had the same result as the previous race. The Polo, surprisingly, didn’t win a single race and wasn’t even giving tough competition to its Korean and American counterparts.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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As for the times, the Hyundai i120 N took 14.8 seconds to complete the quarter-mile in almost all the races. The Fiesta ST took 14.9 seconds, whereas the Polo took 15.4 seconds.

All The Cars Had Their Moments In The Rolling Races

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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Next up was the rolling race from 50 mph wherein the cars were slot into fifth gear to start with and were to downshift to second at kickdown. The Polo GTI won this race, the i20 N came second, and the Fiesta third. One of the perceived reasons for this was that the Ford doesn’t come with rev-matching, but the Hyundai does. So, for the next rolling race, the Hyundai’s rev-matching was switched off and taken out of the equation. And, to be even fairer to the Fiesta ST and its shorter gearing ratios, they started from 40 mph this time. The Fiesta kind of jumped on the i20 N, but the end result was the same as the first race.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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They raced again with the same settings and conditions as the second drag race. Surprisingly, the i20 N won this time. It looked like the Fiesta ST came second and the Polo third. It was later revealed that the Polo GTI slipped into the sixth gear and took time to downshift, and then it never caught up with the other two. For the final rolling race from 50 mph, the cars were locked into third gear and slot into their sportiest settings. In this race, the Fiesta ST was in its elements and it went on to win. The i20 N came second and the Polo came in third. So, all the cars got wins this time around.

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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The last round was the brake test from 70 mph. The Polo GTI stopped in the shortest distance, followed by the i20 N and then the Fiesta ST

The final round was the brake test from 70 mph. The Polo GTI stopped in the shortest distance, followed by the i20 N and then the Fiesta ST.

Conclusion

Battle Of The Hot Budget Hatches: The Hyundai i20 N vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI
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If you had to pick one of these hatches as your only car, which one would it be – the Hyundai i20 N, the Ford Fiesta ST, or the Volkswagen Polo GTI? Watch the video below and share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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