Ford Fiesta review
The best-selling Ford Fiesta has been given a new look and a host of new tech, but it's still fun to drive and cheap to run
The Ford Fiesta is a great all-rounder – and one of the best Fords ever. It beats the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo in virtually every way, combining stylish good looks with a driving experience that simply isn’t bettered in the supermini class. It’s no surprise, then, that the Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling new car. A facelift at the end of 2012 gave the Fiesta a striking new front-end design and some new technology that will feature across future Ford ranges. That said, some low-rent plastics remain and, although the Fiesta starts from just under £10,000, its price can escalate quite dramatically, especially if you opt for some of the new safety kit.
Our choice: 80bhp 1.25-litre Zetec
Few superminis are more stylish than the Ford Fiesta, and the 2012 facelift has only enhanced this. The design applies to both the three and five-door models, and takes its inspiration from the Ford Evos concept that debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and the next-generation Mondeo. The changes are centred around the front of the car, which gets narrower headlights with LED daytime running lights, an oversized five-bar chrome grille and a separate lower section that’s flanked by trapezoidal foglamp surrounds. The bonnet also has a more aggressive ‘Power Dome’ shape, with a raised centre instead of the pre-facelift car’s flatter design, plus there are new tail-lights, new alloy wheel designs and new colours. It all combines to give the Fiesta a more robust stance, and makes it look like a larger car than it actually is, even though its dimensions are the same as before. The smart design continues with the interior, with a new mobile phone-inspired centre console, some stylish switchgear and neat dials. The facelift also brought an improvement to the quality of trim materials - it’s just a shame that the plastic than runs from the cubby to the gearlever is made from quite thin, flexible material.
This is where the Ford Fiesta scores big. With sharp steering, an agile chassis and a decent amount of grip, very few cars are more fun to drive. But it’s not just good on a country road, the Fiesta has a big-car feel on the motorway, too – it's quiet and refined with a comfortable but firm ride. There’s a wide range of petrol engines, including two 1.25-litre units with 60 and 82bhp and Ford’s multi award-winning 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which is available in both non-turbo and turbocharged EcoBoost forms. The diesel choices include a new 74bhp 1.5-litre unit and a 94bhp 1.6, which is available as a frugal ECOnetic model capable of 85.6mpg.
Thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and standard safety features such as stability control and seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), the little Ford ticks all the right boxes. An Active City Stop system is now available as an option, too. This works in the same way as the autobrake system on the Focus, preventing low-speed collisions by automatically bringing the car to a stop if necessary. The new MyKey system is another highlight, as it allows owners to pre-programme a maximum speed and stereo volume if they lend the car to a child or friend. A slight negative is the fact that some poor quality plastics have crept into the cabin, particularly around the centre console cupholders. That said, Ford has made big efforts to improve reliability across the board, and the Fiesta continues that approach. It finished 64th in the 2012 Driver Power ownership survey, with an overall score of 84.29 per cent. The facelift model shares nearly all of its components with the last Fiesta so most problems should be ironed out by now.
Despite its small dimensions, it’s very easy for all shapes and sizes to get comfortable in the Ford Fiesta. The steering adjusts for reach and rake, and there’s lots of travel in the seats. Five-door versions have more space for rear passengers than three-door models, but the Fiesta isn't as spacious for passengers as a Volkswagen Polo or Renault Clio. The boot size is good for the class, though, even if the lip is quite high. There’s 295 litres of space, which is more than the Polo and Peugeot 208 (which offer 280 and 285 litres of space respectively) but quite a lot less the Honda Jazz, which has a massive 399-litre boot. The rear seats split and fold, but the seat bases don’t flip forward. This limits the increase in luggage area to 979 litres (compared to 1,152 litres for the 208), and makes carrying bigger items a bit tricky.
Running costs shouldn't be a problem with the Fiesta. It's very cheap to run thanks to good mpg, servicing costs are reasonable and residual values are reasonable. In fact, the majority of models return fuel economy of more than 60mpg while emitting less than 100g/km of CO2, which makes it exempt from road tax. For those who do the occasional motorway jaunt but spend most of their time in the city, the lowest bills will come with the 1.6-litre diesel ECOnetic version, which does more than 85mpg and emits just 87g/km of CO2. Almost all versions of the Fiesta fall into a low insurance group and some of the new safety features – such as Active City Stop and MyKey - mean it even qualifies for discounts with some insurers. As for specifications, there are six trim levels in all. Studio cars are a bit basic, but Style versions have air-con, remote central locking and electric windows. Zetec models are sporty, while Titanium cars are luxurious. The new Titanium X spec adds even more equipment and a bodykit.