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Ford Fiesta 1100L
The front seats of the L have a cloth type trimming in a jazzy material but the actual seats are very comfortable, being neither too firm nor too soft, but giving good lateral support. Headrests are optional extras and the seats recline partially via a knurled wheel at the base.
Rear seat leg room is quite generous by small car standards and two adults will be quite comfortable over long distances.
With driver only on board the car does joggle over bumps and gives a lively ride, but with heavier loads the ride is just right- firm but well damped.
Stowage for small items is generous. There's an open locker under the dashboard and the upper surface of the dash is lipped and flat so that items can be stood there. There are bins attached to both front doors and the luggage cover can be used as a shelf.
As on most small hatchbacks, luggage space is only modest if the back seat is in use. Certainly four adults would be hard pushed to accommodate all their holiday luggage. There is a useful locker below the boot floor, but above it three large cases would fill the available space.
The instruments and controls are very neatly positioned and the two-spoke wheel allows a good view. The left hand column stalk operates the direction indicators, horn and lights flashing and dipping while a pair of stalks on the right side look after the wipers (intermittent and 2 speed), washers and the lights.
Opel Kadett LS
The front seats have quite firm cushions but lateral location is good and the seats recline fully by means of knurled wheels. The rear seat is surprisingly spacious and three adults have sufficient legroom for long trips. Headrests are standard on the LS.
With its slightly longer wheelbase the Kadett has a better ride than its two rivals in this test, soaking up bad bumps extremely well.
The heating and ventilation system is first class and all round visibility is excellent.
Stowage for small items is fairly good as there is a large lidded locker under the dashboard, open bins in both doors and the rear parcels shelf.
Luggage space is much better than in the Polo or Fiesta and the low rear lip enables heavy items to be loaded easily. The Kadett also has the best folding arrangement for the rear seat, leaving a very large load area.
The fascia is almost aircraft like with its very deep central switch panel. The only instruments are a 120mph speedometer and small water and fuel contents gauges.
The four spoke wheel has a central horn push and most control functions are looked after by two column mounted stalks. The left hand one looks after the direction indicators and light flashing and dipping, while the right hand one is for the wipers (intermittent and 2 speed), and washers. The light control knob is on the dashboard. Surprisingly the Kadett and Fiesta do not have a cigarette lighter as standard, but all have masses of ashtrays.
Volkswagen Polo GLS
The seats are typical German, having rather firm cushions which endow the driver with a numb b - - (posterior) on a long journey. However, lateral location is excellent and adjustable headrests are fitted. Rear seat legroom is not very generous, especially if the front seats are well back. We doubt if three adults would be happy in the back seat for long journeys.
The suspension is fairly firm and combined with the short wheelbase it does give a bumpy ride on poor surfaces, but generally the ride is very reassuring, and certainly preferable to a very soft suspension.
Space for oddments in the car is restricted to a pair of open shelves at the front and the rear luggage cover which can be used as a parcels shelf. The top of the dashboard is recessed so that maps etc. could be carried.
Luggage space is very restricted in the boot area if the rear seat is in use, although the luggage cover can be removed to allow cases to be stacked higher.
The two spoke steering wheel allows a good view of the instrument panel which contains a large lOOmph speedo and matching clock, together with smaller fuel and water temperature gauges.
There are four column mounted stalks, two on each side. Those on the left look after direction indicators, lights selection, dipping and flashing, while those on the right handle the two speed and intermittent wiper, the rear screen wiper and washers for both. Restyled last year the dashboard is much