New Ford Fiesta vs rivals

27 Feb, 2013 10:30am

Can the facelifted Ford Fiesta reclaim its crown? We test it against the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208

Superminis are big business, and competition in this market is now tougher than ever. Last year, we crowned a new class champion, as the Peugeot 208 narrowly beat the Ford Fiesta thanks to its superior emissions and appealingly low price.

However, Britain’s best seller is back. Ford has given the Fiesta a thorough facelift, and introduced a wide range of new engines and an upmarket interior that should help it compete with newer rivals.

Leading these rivals is the latest Renault Clio, which the French carmaker is hoping will revive its ailing fortunes. With looks inspired by the stunning DeZir concept and a slick media touchscreen dominating the more spacious, practical cabin, it should run the Ford close.

Completing the line-up for this test is our favourite car in this sector. The 208 feels like a high-quality product, but faces a real fight to keep its place at the top of the supermini tree.


Ford has reclaimed its place at the top with this facelift, improving the Fiesta in almost every single department. The revised looks are sure to split opinion, but the refreshed interior, punchy EcoBoost engine and sparkling driving experience allow it to edge ahead of its rivals.

Although it’s not as well equipped or eye-catching as the Clio, there’s room for a discount – as is the case with most Fords. So the Fiesta returns to the top of the class with relative ease. But where does that leave our French duo?

The Peugeot 208 probably offers the least in terms of driver appeal, but the plush, modern cabin and eager engine – plus the smoother ride – give it the edge over the Clio, even if it trails the other two cars here for practicality.

The Renault is forced into third place. Its breathless engine and low-rent cabin are at odds with the classy, stylish exterior design. There’s lots to like about the Clio, including its value price and fine aftersales package, but in such a competitive sector, it doesn’t do quite enough to shine.

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While I don't doubt that the Fiesta is a great supermini, I can't get over how much Ford have butchered it's front end. Any cohesiveness the Fiesta design had has been well and truly lost.

I don't get why journalists bang on 24/7 about the VW Polo being the best car and the Fiesta being the best to drive... I own a fiesta and it's no better or worse than any other car I've driven? I don't get a 'go kart' feel or feel the 'sparkling driving experience'... it's just like every other car in this segment. The interior quality up top is pretty ok but down below is cheap/scratchy... Ford customer service is very very poor if something goes wrong.

Its an outright shootout. Britain's best superminis all look good but Clio wears the crown in the contest of looks. Beautiful car. Some great engines too.

Agree with 'Jonathan Knapman' about the Fiesta's looks. I'm amazed how bad the front end looks on the new facelift model. What the hell were Ford thinking? The pre facelift was much neater. The new Clio however is surely one of the most attractive cars in its class. If I was in the market for a supermini I would certainly take a test drive in the Clio.

I am a Ford fan. The Clio looks best followed by the 206. But the Ford is not the worst thing to have ever happened. There are things like the Nissan Leaf. awful. and this look could well grow upon us like the Focus. but ford must not push their luck in the design rooms.

How about testing the model most private buyers in the UK will actually purchase Autoexpress??
The Ecoboost versions are almost as expensive as the diesels so just not worth it unless your are doing mega-miles. The majority of us (private buyers) are not receiving a company car allowance, a huge pension or any form of benefit payment to fund the expensive models.

Incidentally, my 62-plate 1.25 (normally aspirated 82hp) seems to be more economical even in this cold weather than the 60-plate one I had before with the same engine.
Echoing a previous comment here, Fords Customer Service could also be better than I experienced with a problem mine had from new. Fortunately the dealer kept perservering with the problem to resolve it but a replacement car would have saved them and me a lot of grief and inconvenience in the long run.

Agreed, the front has gone from Good to Awful! Ford, you should be ashamed of yourselves as your products now look Corporately Awful - The Dearborne Disasters Ride Again!!

alex34197 - The EcoBoost engine is a brilliant addition to the engine line up and to be honest we are selling them better than the 1.25's - but that's because we lease them and so buyers (private and businesses) don't have to make much of a decision based on cost alone.
The 1.5TDCi is coming out at more or less the same rate as the 1.0 EcoBoost and so could be easily justied on fuel cost savings against both that and the 1.25.

Really lost confidence in your car reviews as of late, slating the new clio for its poor interior with hard scratchy plastics when in the previous review of the same spec and same engined car you praise renault for the quality inside with chrome, gloss black features standing out alongside the soft touch dash! And say its excellent with 4/5 stars! Am I missing something?

I disagree I think the revised front end styling looks great and looks like a baby Aston Martin

The Fiesta is the only one of these three that I would even consider buying.

All three complete & utter Eurojunk. Why do people bother with them?

Good god...that Ford is the ugliest car on the road. So just to clear things up, the fiesta is exactly the same as the current model, but now far more ugly, yet overall better?? Great conclusion.......££

Wow! You must have no interest in the driving feel of cars. The Ford does feel 'go kart-like' compared to a Yaris, Swift or Clio. The Swift comes close, but has too much body-roll. The Ford handles the best, so that's why journos keep going on about it all the time :)

"Ford has reclaimed its place at the top with this facelift, improving the Fiesta in almost every single department. The revised looks are sure to split opinion, but the refreshed interior, punchy EcoBoost engine and sparkling driving experience allow it to edge ahead of its rivals". So no, it's not the same at all. They've improved an already exceptional package :)

sponsored by ford I take it?

Auto Express is only Ford PROPAGANDA, you're losing your credibility.
No one will ever believe Fiesta won over Clio - you must be out of your minds.

thats right,the clio is the best car you can buy this period
Hey Auto Express,you should stop that propaganda sometime

Absolutely. I think Ford and VAG obviously have shares in Dennis publishing hence the glowing reviews.....

Because they enjoy visiting garages with the inevitable problems that will result with ownership of the above. Simples!

I just don't understand Ford. I thought they were supposed to be the great marketers, but they seem determined to confuse their brand. After years spent establishing the Ford 'face' of the previous shape Mondeo, they then dumped it for the most confused set of 'faces' with holes hacked all over the place. Now after just releasing the ugliest car for years, the new Focus, which has the ultimate worst face of any Ford ever, they have started with this new Fiesta front end trying to establish a new 'face' - not a 100 miles from the one they had on the old shape Mondeo! If this was any sort of planned move, then why introduce such a lash up on the front of the latest Focus? I thought the received wisdom, as demonstrated by highly successful brands, is to come up with a unique, recognisable, face, and then don't muck around with it too much!

I saw my first facelifted Fiesta today and it looks better than most of the competition. Apart from the Polo that looks O.K., they all seem to have faces like mutant insects.

Was it foggy when they did this test? Or don't the testers understand which buttons on the dashboard do what....

How come almost all major tests give the Clio first place, not only in terms of equipment which without a question is much better than the Fiesta, but also on handling and freshness of a completely new car?? Fiesta has nothing new to show on the interior and on the outside this Aston Martin look alike grill is not a match at all. It looks ridiculous, just like like a kit car add on!They should have stayed with the previous one. Alone this 1 lt ecoboost cannot make the difference as the French has also its great 1 and 1.2 lt turbos and also the 1.5 diesel which is better than the 1.6 diesel of the Fiesta. Clio is a clear winner in all aspects (I'm puzzled that you had it finished third even behind Peugeot 208. Did you really drive all cars or you just guessed??) but its hard for Autoexpress to swallow that since they are a Ford fanatic.
Clio is the leader right now and rightfully so. It has the full package, fress sharp looks, leading technology, excellent handling, equipment, space and great engines to top it off.
Auto Express you better wake up and smell the coffee!!

They also missed off a number of other cars to compare it against - where are things like the Nissan Micra/Note, VW Polo, Seat's, Mini, etc do none of these other car manufacturers make super-mini's?

When will AutoExpress realise that not everyone puts 'sparkling handling' before every other priority on the car buyers list!? Was shocked that Clio came last, given it should have won this test. AE will be starting to sweat in anticipation for a new Fiesta to be released because they ccan't give it 5 stars forever!

Quite frankly, this test - especially where performance is concerned - is not fair.

The Clio tested was an eco version with taller gearing, so due to the laws of physics will naturally be more sluggish. Not only that but the Fiesta has over 10% more power, so it was inevitable that slightly less power and taller 'eco special' gearing would disadvantage the Clio.

Agree with the comments of others that the interior has been praised by Auto Express and other reviewers while the Fiesta's interior has been a widely recognised criticism yet the opposite has been stated in this review. As with many of AE's journalists, this reviewer is biased towards Ford and anti French, Italian and Japanese.

If it aint Ford or German, AE aint interested!

And no-one please tell me that I'm jealous etc, because I own a Ford myself but I really can't see how nigh on every model from Ford or VAG deserves 5 stars based on my brief experiences with some of their supposedly perfect models.


Would rather buy an old Toyota Yaris T-Sport.. now that's the best fun small car

Load of rubbish, the Clio is a brilliant car to drive and in my opinion is the best looking of the 3, the ford is too old fashioned and looks EXACTLY like the old ST, save a few tweaks to the front grille... WOW what an improvement... AE you really should learn how to do a review..

I really think the 0.9L TCE is letting the Clio down.. I think the tried,true and tested 90 bhp DCI 1.5L diesel is a better fit with slightly faster 0-60mph times and a better fuel economy..

Making a small 1L 3 cylinder turbo charged engine great, balanced and economical is a hard feat.. And something that Ford seem to have accomplished with the 1L ecoboost engine that have won engine of the year twice in a row... But the claimed MPG numbers are a bit over exagerated..

The peugeot's new 1.2L 3 cylinder PSA engine is off-cause low on power due to a lack of a turbocharger but also more predictable and probably with much better real life fuel figures than the smaller turbo charged triplets. This engine in the new peugeot 108 can be delivered with this engine which will make it a very brisk and fun car with its ~ 850kg kerb weight..

I agree.. to many cars have lost the "feel".. Numb steering wheel feel, sharp breaks with little travel on the pedal, manual rubbery gear feel etc..

THis is why I have always liked the FORD/Mazda collaboration. Mid 00's Mazda 2/ Ford fiesta,,, Mazda 3/Ford focus.. same platform..
Cars with a great engaging ride..