We were first to drive the new five-door Ford Fiesta last week (Issue 1,027). Now, Auto Express has got behind the wheel of the sporty Zetec S three-door, too.
Style is key for the latest Fiesta, and it shows. The three-door body has a racier look, while the Zetec S gains a deeper front bumper and side skirts. What’s more, the rear spoiler is inspired by the whale-tail wings seen on the legendary Sierra and Escort Cosworths.
Inside, the cabin continues the theme of bold design, with a bright control panel dominating the centre console.
The Fiesta is only 35mm longer than the car it replaces, but even here, as a three-door, shoulder room for back seat passengers is excellent. Knee and head space only becomes an issue if you are more than six feet tall.
From the moment you turn the key, the fastest Fiesta means business. Its responsive 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine delivers a characterful burble around town. The new electric power-steering provides good feedback, and the five-speed gearbox is slick and satisfying to use. On twisty roads, the Ford turns in crisply with very little body roll, while the level of grip is impressive.
Most remarkable is the ride, which irons out imperfections in the road and absorbs mid-corner bumps without flinching. Even though the Zetec S has stiff sports suspension, it takes potholes and other imperfections in its stride.
There’s no doubt Ford is on to a winner with the new Fiesta. It has crammed the space, dynamic ability and generous specification of a big car into a small package that will have rivals on the back foot.
* Price: £12,595
* Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp
* 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
* Top speed: 120mph
* Economy: 47.9mpg
* CO2: 139g/km
* Standard equipment: Five airbags, air-con, leather steering wheel, 16-inch alloys, bodykit including deeper front bumper and large rear wing, sports suspension, MP3 and USB connectivity