Ford Fiesta review
The Ford Fiesta is a rare blend of supermini that appeals to enthusiastic drivers and economy-minded families alike
The Ford Fiesta is one of the best cars Ford has ever produced. It’s our reigning supermini class champion and eclipses rivals like the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo thanks to its sleek looks, sparkling driving experience, low running costs and practical cabin.
The Fiesta has been a fixture at the top of the UK’s new car sales charts for years. It's no doubt been 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 X derivatives and the Fiesta ST hot hatch. For the ultimate in fuel-economy, there's also the 86mpg Ford Fiesta ECOnetic version which we reviewed as part of our most economical cars feature.
The range-topping 180bhp Ford 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
Few superminis can rival the Ford Fiesta for style and street cred. A rakish profile and bold details mean it packs plenty of visual punch – but Ford’s trademark gaping trapezoidal grille looks a little heavy-handed in this case.
The Zetec - the best selling model in the Ford Fiesta range - gets some extra glamour courtesy of its 15-inch alloys, front foglights, additional chrome trim and body-coloured door handles and mirrors as standard kit. However, you’ll have to choose the range-topping and (and subseqently more expensive) Titanium or Titanium X model if you want LED daytime running lights.
In the middle of 2014, Ford released Red and Black Edition versions of the Fiesta. These get a 138bhp 1.0 EcoBoost engine and a styling makeover that is based around either red or black paint. The Black Edition gets a mostly black body, set off by red wing mirrors, a red roof and red accents around the grille. The Red Edition is essentially the reverse. They get some sporty interior updates, too, like red stitching and sports seats.
Every Ford Fiesta gets air-conditioning, electric windows and a USB connection as standard, while the Zetec adds desirable extras such as a heated windscreen, leather steering wheel and trip computer. Ford also includes warm red ambient lighting, which helps give the cabin a classy feel at night. However, Ford charges an extra £200 for Bluetooth and £100 for a DAB radio – shameful, considering it’s standard on many rivals.
The Ford 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.
We already know the good looking Ford Fiesta is as excellent to drive as it looks, plus its poised handling and excellent refinement give it a mature feel.
The wide range of petrol engines available on the Ford Fiesta comprises of 60bhp and 82bhp versions of Ford’s proven 1.25-litre petrol unit, as well as the 99bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost. Despite its downsized 1.0-litre capacity, this petrol engine's muscular 170Nm torque output provides confidence-inspiring overtaking pace and allows you to power up motorway inclines that would leave some of its rivals struggling.
The Red and Black Editions, with the 138bhp 1.0 EcoBoost engine are seriosuly impressive. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 9 seconds, with fuel economy of more than 60mpg. It works as a nice bridge between the 125PS Zetec S model and the full-blown ST.
Ford has also recently introduced a new non-turbocharged version of this three-cylinder engine to the Fiesta range - it 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.
Ford also offers the Fiesta with a dual-clutch gearbox on Zetec, Zetec S and Titanium X models. These auto 'box cars are powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit or 1.6-litre Duratec petrol engine - it's just a shame that it doesn't take long to realise that the Ford gearbox is nowhere near as refined as the Volkswagen dual-clutch DSG unit.
The Ford Fiesta diesel models are even more efficient than their petrol counterparts – there’s a choice of a new 74bhp 1.5-litre TDCi and a 94bhp 1.6 TDCi. The 1.6-litre promises an economy of 85.6mpg with 87g/km emissions when fitted to the super-green Fiesta ECOnetic.
It’s the sharp chassis that shines brightest where the Ford 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 Ford Fiesta is as fun to drive as many hot hatches. The ST hot hatch version is even better.
The really good news surrounding the Ford Fiesta is that this nimble handling doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement – except maybe in the ST. Big bumps and potholes are smoothed out by the supple suspension, while the interior is well insulated from wind and road noise. The ST tends to be much more uncomofortable and noisier, which is why the Red and Black Editions provide a nice middle ground. Although the little Ford EcoBoost engine emits a characterful thrum when extended, even this small petrol unit is pleasantly smooth and quiet at other times.
The facelifted Ford Fiesta (the one with the big grille) finished in 78th place in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey. This latest model feels more solidly built than before, plus the cabin is full of decent-quality materials.
The EcoBoost engines are relatively sophisticated, and the 1.0-litre three-cylinder version has proven durable. Ford has improved the Fiesta’s safety credentials – all versions now have seven airbags, stability control and hill-start assist.
Ford also gives the Fiesta MyKey technology, which allows you to programme the car’s maximum speed, stereo volume and electronic safety aids to suit an inexperienced driver. The £200 Active City Stop automatic low-speed braking system is also well worth adding.
Despite its neat dimensions, the Ford Fiesta is a versatile choice, particularly in five-door form. 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.
There Ford Fiesta gets adequate head and legroom for rear passengers, and lots of thought has gone into the interior, where you’ll find plenty of storage cubbies and a number of cup-holders.
The Ford Fiesta also has a slight advantage over its rivals here for luggage capacity, thanks to its well shaped 290-litre boot. Ford fits a useful 60:40 split-folding rear seat as standard across the Fiesta range – but it’s worth bearing in mind that, like in the Peugeot 208 and Toyota Yaris, the bench doesn’t fold down completely flat.
A supermini should be cheap to run and happily, the Ford Fiesta doesn’t disappoint. Prices start at around £10,000 with our favourite Zetec version weighing in at just £14,000. Better still, you should be able to haggle decent deals with your Ford dealer on most models.
Additionally, the stop-start-equipped Ford Fiesta EcoBoost emits less than 100g/km of CO2 – as do the ECOnetic diesels – meaning a tax disc will cost nothing. Our experts predict that the Ford 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.