Ford Fiesta review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Ford Fiesta is a supermini of rare quality beloved of keen drivers and economy-minded families alike

For: 
Attractive styling, fantastic to drive, cheap to run
Against: 
Rivals are more spacious, some low-rent plastics, Bluetooth is extra

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The Ford Fiesta is one of the best cars Ford has ever produced. It’s a truly brilliant supermini, combining a class-leading driving experience with great mpg fuel economy and a stylish, modern design to eclipse rivals like the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo

The Fiesta has been a fixture at the top of the UK’s new car sales charts for years helped by Ford's attractive finance plans and generous equipment levels across a range that runs from the entry-level Style and Studio models through Zetec and Zetec S to the plush Titanium derivatives and the ST hot hatch. For the ultimate in Fiesta fuel-economy, there's also the 86mpg ECOnetic version.

We're not saying the Fiesta is perfect: the interior is still blighted by some cheap plastics, and while the price of entry-level cars is tempting at less than £10,000, the figure can rise quickly when you start adding some of the optional safety equipment. 

Then again, the range-topping 180bhp Fiesta ST looks great value – it’s £2,000 cheaper than its main hot hatch rivals and huge fun to drive. Whichever Ford Fiesta model you go for, the baby Ford is a talented all-rounder that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the supermini class.

Our choice: 1.0T EcoBoost Zetec

Styling

4.5

Few superminis can rival the Fiesta for head-turning kerb appeal. With its mix of a rakish profile and bold detailing, it packs plenty of visual punch. And while Ford’s trademark gaping trapezoidal grille looks a little heavy-handed, it fails to detract from the car’s chic image. 

All models get a body-colour finish for the door handles and mirror housings to keep up appearances. Our Zetec test model – the best seller in the range – is given an extra injection of style courtesy of its 15-inch alloys, front foglights and additional chrome trim. You’ll have to step up to a range-topping Titanium or Titanium X model if you want distinctive LED daytime running lights.

All cars have air-conditioning, electric windows and a USB connection, while the Zetec adds desirable extras such as a heated windscreen, leather steering wheel and trip computer. Also included is warm red ambient lighting, which helps give the cabin a classy feel at night. However, shamefully, Bluetooth is an extra £200 on the Fiesta – it’s standard on many rivals.

The Fiesta is equally attractive inside, where you’ll find a neatly designed and logically laid-out dashboard. Quality is good, too, with decent fit and finish, plus plenty of soft-touch materials – although some of the plastics used in the lower half of the cabin are a little hard and scratchy. There’s plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel, so it’s easy for drivers to get comfortable. 

Driving

5

Amazingly, the sleek Ford Fiesta is even better to drive than it is to look at. Poised handling and excellent refinement give the car a grown-up feel. 

The wide range of petrol engines comprises 60bhp and 82bhp versions of Ford’s proven 1.25-litre unit, as well as the 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost. Despite its downsized 1.0-litre capacity, this turbocharged engine has performed really well in all of our on-track performance tests. Its advantage is even more obvious in the real world, where its muscular 170Nm torque output provides confidence-inspiring overtaking pace and allows you to power up motorway inclines that left the other cars in this test struggling. Ford has also recently introduced a new non-turbocharged version of this three-cylinder engine, which costs less than the EcoBoost, but also has a lot less power, with 79bhp and a 0-62mph time of over 14 seconds. Still, even in this trim the engine is very refined, and surprisingly efficient, but you have to work the five-speed gearbox quite hard to keep it going .

The Fiesta diesel models are even more efficient – there’s a choice of a new 74bhp 1.5-litre TDCi and a 94bhp 1.6 TDCi. The 1.6-litre promises 85.6mpg economy and 87g/km emissions when fitted to the super-green Fiesta ECOnetic. A choice of manual of Powershift automatic gearboxes complete the line-up.

It’s the sharp chassis that shines brightest where the Fiesta is concerned. The electrically assisted power-steering is beautifully weighted and direct, allowing you to place the agile Ford with pinpoint accuracy. Add in the strong grip, superb body control and slick gearshift, and the standard Fiesta is as fun to drive as many hot hatches. The ST hot hatch version is better still.

Yet the really good news is that this nimble handling doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement. Big bumps and potholes are smoothed out by the supple suspension, while the interior is well insulated from wind and road noise. Although the EcoBoost engine emits a characterful thrum when extended, even this small petrol unit is pleasantly smooth and quiet at other times.

However, it’s the sharp chassis that shines brightest. The electrically assisted power-steering is beautifully weighted and direct, allowing you to place the agile Ford with pinpoint accuracy. Add in the strong grip, superb body control and slick gearshift, and the Fiesta is as fun to drive as many more expensive hot hatches. Yet the really good news is that this nimble handling doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement. Big bumps and potholes are smoothed out by the supple suspension, while the interior is well insulated from wind and road noise. And although the EcoBoost engine emits a characterful thrum when extended, it’s pleasantly smooth and quiet at all other times.

Reliability

3.8

We've waxed lyrical so far but, unfortunately, Ford does still have a lot of work to do if it wants to match its rivals for reliability and durability. 

The pre-facelift version of the Fiesta finished in a lowly 117th place in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, which highlights the concerns owners had about the car’s durability. Fortunately, the latest model appears to be more carefully constructed than before, plus the cabin is finished with decent-quality materials. While the EcoBoost turbos are relatively sophisticated, the engine has so far proven trouble-free. 

Ford has also worked hard to improve safety, with all versions of the Fiesta now benefiting from seven airbags, stability control and hill-start assist. All this helped the car achieve a five-star Euro NCAP score. Also included is the brand’s novel MyKey technology, which allows you to program the top speed, stereo volume and electronic safety aids when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel. The £200 Active City Stop autobrake system is also worth adding.

Practicality

3.9

In isolation, the Fiesta is a versatile choice, particularly in five-door guise. However, it can’t match the clever packaging of roomy MPV-flavoured rivals like the Nissan Note and Honda Jazz for space and family-friendly practicality. 

At least the Fiesta's cabin provides adequate head and legroom for rear passengers along with plenty of cubby space and a number of cup-holders. Opening the tailgate reveals a well shaped 290-litre boot, although capacity shrinks to 276 litres if you opt for a space-saver spare in place of the standard tyre foam. A 60:40 split-fold rear seat is also standard throughout the range – but it’s worth bearing in mind that, unlike with the Jazz and Note, the bench doesn’t fold completely flat.

Running Costs

4.1

You’d expect a supermini to be cheap to run – and the Fiesta doesn’t disappoint. Prices start at only £9,995, with our favourite  Zetec version weighing in at £14,345. Better still, you should be able to haggle decent deals with your Ford dealer on most models. 

On top of that, our stop-start-equipped EcoBoost model emits less than 100g/km of CO2 – as do the ECOnetic diesels – meaning a tax disc will cost nothing. Our experts predict that the Fiesta will hold on to its value reasonably well, with an estimated figure of 39.7 per cent after three years. As it’s Britain’s best-selling car, that’s not bad. Ford also offers a £550 pre-paid servicing pack, which covers scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.

Disqus - noscript

How do you get an overall score of 5/5 when 3 of the individual scores were around 4?

very good and sensible question!

"The diesel choices include ... a 94bhp 1.6, which is available as a frugal ECOnetic model capable of 85.6mpg."

Why does AE keep printing these silly lies? Are you guys lacking brains or integrity?

It's a shame that the video of the Fiuesta was of the OLD OUTGOING MODEL !!!!

The problem with the Fiesta is the appalling engine which Ford has decided to offer with the Powershift gearbox - underpowered and uneconomical. Typical Ford, they did the same with the earlier Fiesta.

Does this mean the new 2014 ST will get six stars?

Hope the wheels are better quality than the 2009/2010 ones. The quality of the alloys were appalling leading to Ford refusing to acknowledge a problem and handily selling loads of new alloys as the originals became buckled. Ours is running around on a cheap set of halfords alloys now (which incidentally haven't buckled).

Had a new Fiesta Titanium...O.K...sold it and bought a nine month old Focus titanium with 3k miles on the clock.cost me £12999....less than the cost of new Fiesta ....no comparison.....the Focus is a brilliant car.

I have had my new shape Fiesta for 3 weeks now and quite disappointed to be honest, i had a Fiesta Van for 4 years never had a problem. I purchased the brand new Fiesta 1.5 Tdci diesel it's a lovely drive however it's picked up a rattle / noise the steering column. i have been back to the garage and it's not fixed, while they admit there is a noise which was never their at the start of the cars life they say it's a fiesta noise! The rattle in the steering column is quite annoying. I am told this could be the engine loving between gears changes and just one of those things. I was really excited to get a brand new car and feel totally disappointed never again! Looks as though i will have to put up with this for the next 3 years

Seriously I would keep pestering until it is sorted. Don't be fobbed off! If the sound wasn't there when you brought it, it shouldn't be there now. Take it to another dealer if need be and get a second opinion - or even an independent then bill Ford for the repair they should have done.

Don't give up and let them win, after all they are saving money not fixing it and you have to suffer this unsatisfactory noise. Make them work for the huge sum of money you have handed over to them!

To be fair they are only quoting the figures gained from the flawed government test. That's how you get the 60ps and 82ps petrols with the same 120g/km; even though common sense says the 82 should use more fuel than the 60 - the extra power has to come from somewhere!

Think you had better look at it again.

I ask the same question. The main reason many new cars get science fiction economy figures is that they have stop-start technology and some have switchable ECO modes. In the real world, these technologies do not deliver the promised savings, so users are often disappointed. Asssuming the AE writers have twigged this, they are lacking in integrity for not quoting EU figures without a "health warning". Incidentally, in this review, I did not notice anything about the economy AE achieved, even though they must have had plenty of oportunity to measure it.

If as Smartroad states, the 60 ps and 82 ps both produce 120 g CO2/km, then they must also have matching fuel economy figures. In the EU test, it is the level CO2 in exhaust gasses that is measured and the fuel use is then calculated from this. Hence, 120 g CO2/km is equivalent to 55 mpg for petrol or 61.7 mpg for Diesel. Having extra power does not necessarilly mean you use more power since most of the time you will not be needing it. But, the higher power engine might be more effiicient, but nobody ever gives information on this. Also, if one engine has stop start, it will appear to be more efficient and economical in the (outdated rather than flawed) EU test.

I'd plan to have a 5 door hatchback from 2009 to 2012 I'd plan to have this Inplace of my Ford Ka.

just bought 63 plate 1.0 echoboost zetec fiesta & noticed lights come on during day rang garage & they said daytime lighting also radio sometime stays on after car switched off other times goes off are these actually faults. cheers robert

None of those are faults. The Daytime Running Lights are standard. You can't turn them off. The radio doesn't turn off when you switch off and take the key out, but does when you open the door, which I think is brilliant - I often like to keep listening 'till the end of the song after I park.

For those attracted by the 15% Ford Insure insurance discount for installing the City Stop feature then note that Ford Insure have reneged on this promise. They have changed underwriter from RSA to Allianz and the new underwriter will not honour this.

Last updated: 23 Jan, 2014

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