Setting the latest Fiesta apart are a smart five-bar chrome grille and slimmer headlamps that incorporate stylish LED strips for the first time. The lights are inspired by the Mondeo, and ensure the car looks bigger and wider than before. At the back, new light clusters add flair to the smart design, while our model’s Candy Blue paintjob looks great.
But Ford has saved the biggest changes for under the bonnet, with the introduction of the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. We’ve already tried the 123bhp version, but for our first drive on UK roads, we got behind the wheel of a 99bhp car.
No matter what the output, Ford predicts the three-cylinder turbo will be the most popular choice, and once you’re on the move it’s easy to see why. The engine stays remarkably smooth and quiet around town but, unlike the similarly sized engine in the Fiat Punto TwinAir, this superb refinement continues after you join the motorway. As a result, the Fiesta feels really grown-up.
Other signs of this supermini’s move upmarket are dotted about the cabin. A new gloss black ‘flow through’ insert joins together the dash and centre console, and ensures even the mid-spec Zetec model feels plusher inside.
Some common sense touches boost the quality feel – these include redesigned door handles to make the window switches easier to reach, plus the addition of a centre armrest. And while the plastics used still aren’t up to the same standard as those in a VW Polo, the gap is narrower.
Ford has also added some new gadgets, including the SYNC Bluetooth streaming system that pairs to your mobile. Plus, there’s MyKey – a personalised key that allows owners to alter settings like the traction control and maximum speed, which is ideal for parents wanting to keep tabs on teenage drivers. The Active City Stop autobrake system is also the first of its kind in this class.
Once it’s up to speed, the three-cylinder engine emits a characterful offbeat noise, while the five-speed box’s taller gearing and the supple suspension mean the Fiesta is still relaxing to drive. Even better, the stop-start system helps give the EcoBoost tax-free emissions – this engine is one of six in the range that promise CO2 figures below the 100g/km mark.
In fact, it’s difficult to find many faults – the controls are all superbly weighted and the nimble chassis and positive steering make it very involving.
The only fly in the ointment is the cost: the three-door Zetec is the cheapest Fiesta EcoBoost you can buy, at £13,645.
Still, when you consider that the car is better equipped and more powerful than any rival, this is a price worth paying.