Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi

Every new Ford is expected to race to the top of its class – and, for the latest Fiesta, that means beating the excellent Vauxhall Corsa.

Every new Ford is expected to race to the top of its class – and, for the latest Fiesta, that means beating the excellent Vauxhall Corsa. Only last week, the GM contender saw off its rivals to take the supermini crown in our New Car Honours awards for the second time. But will the new Ford cut short its reign?

First impressions of the Fiesta are good – there’s no doubt about which car has the sharper looks. With its well proportioned body, smooth profile and Mondeo-inspired front end, the Ford is one of the most attractive superminis around. The cabin follows suit with neat instruments and a stylish centre console that set it apart from the conservative Corsa. However, its interior doesn’t share the solid feel of its rival’s.

Some of its switchgear isn’t up to the standard set by the Vauxhall, and the doors don’t slam with the same reassuring thud as the Corsa’s.

There are no complaints when it comes to cabin space, though, and the Fiesta’s load capacity is nearly on a par with its rival when the simple split-fold rear seats are in place. With little to choose between them, does the Fiesta have an advantage on the road?

Modern Fords usually excel on the move, and the all-new Fiesta upholds the tradition. Unlike many replacement models, it weighs 40kg less than its predecessor, so not only does the Fiesta ride with exceptional poise, but tight body control and sharp handling make it great fun to drive as well. Enter a bend in the road too quickly, and it will stay on line longer than the Corsa before the front wheels begin to wash wide.

Strong brakes, light controls and one of the most effective electric power-steering set-ups we’ve experienced round off an impressive dynamic package. Although the manual gearbox has only five ratios compared to the Corsa’s six, the Ford’s slicker change makes up for the resulting slight drop in high-speed refinement. The blue oval stretches its lead even further with the 1.6-litre TDCi. The diesel unit is rated at 88bhp – as is the Corsa’s 1.3-litre oil-burner – yet it feels much more responsive, as our figures testify.

At the track, the Ford covered 0-60mph in 12.5 seconds, which makes it two-tenths of a second faster than its rival here. The message is rammed home with the in-gear figures, because the run from 30-70mph took 1.7 seconds longer in the Corsa.

Low CO2 emissions of 110g/km add to the newcomer’s appeal, as it’s in band B for road tax compared to the Corsa’s more costly band C rating. Is that enough to offset its slight price premium?

Details

  • Price: £13,695
  • Model tested: Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi
  • Chart position: 1
  • WHY: The hottest car of the year is finally here – we want to know if it’s good enough.

Economy

In Titanium trim, the diesel Fiesta is £225 more costly than the Corsa SXi. But it will easily pay this back once you get the keys, as it returns fuel economy from its bigger 1.6-litre engine. CO2 emissions of only 110g/km are also some 17g/km lower than the Vauxhall’s, which is enough to place it in a better tax band rating. As a result, road tax is £35 per year compared with £120 for the Corsa. That represents a saving of £85 at current VED rates, which is enough to give the Ford the financial lead here. In addition, a standard-rate company car driver will be £129 better off a year, thanks to the Ford’s lower emissions.

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