Ford Fiesta Edge

Is class-leading supermini a better buy than hot city car duo?

Take a look at the pair of sporty hatches in this test, and you might think we’re mad for putting a basic Fiesta Edge up against them.

But the Ford’s handling is so accomplished, and it’s such good fun to drive, we thought it would make for an interesting comparison against performance models from the class below.

It definitely holds its own visually. Although the Fiesta doesn’t have the aggressive styling and alloy wheels of its rivals, the bodywork’s shapes and surfaces look great from every angle.

And even in this less sporty five-door guise, the taut dimensions and sharp angles give it a dynamic appearance. This sense of style continues inside, where the soft-touch dashboard is a step ahead of both the hot hatches.

It is incredibly classy and very well built, so the interior really stands out compared to the smaller Suzuki and Renault. The modern design is attractive and easy to use. Its prominent centre console dominates the layout, and the large buttons are logically laid out and intuitive.

As the Ford has no high-performance pretensions, its cabin is devoid of sporty details. Yet it still rivals the Twingo and Swift for driver focus. There’s a decent range of adjustment, the gearlever is well placed and you instantly feel at home behind the wheel.

That impression continues on the road, as the weighting of all the controls can’t be faulted. The steering, brakes and gearbox are alive with feel. This attention to detail is what makes the Fiesta so enjoyable to drive at all times.

Unsurprisingly, it’s far more comfortable around town than its stiff hot hatch rivals, while longer gear ratios and excellent soundproofing mean it’s more relaxed on motorways.

But most impressive is the fact that this entry-level supermini rivals the performance models in bends.

Even small movements of the steering wheel result in accurate, responsive cornering at any speed. Plus, there’s lots of grip, despite the high-profile tyres.

More of an achievement is the suspension’s blend of tautness and compliance – this enables the Ford to combine excellent body control with a comfortable and relaxing ride.

At the test track, there’s no substitute for power, and the 81bhp 1.25-litre Fiesta trailed. The Edge sprinted from 0-60mph in 12.4 seconds – that’s 3.8 seconds longer than the Twingo Cup.

Its 50-70mph time in top gear was 17.3 seconds – a huge eight seconds longer. Yet it lapped our twisty low-speed circuit within two seconds of the Renault.

The small powerplant is keen and refined, and offers lower emissions and better economy.

So while the Fiesta lags behind in terms of power in this test, it’s still a strong alternative.

Details

Chart position: 3WHY: The Fiesta has redefined the supermini. Great handling and superbly weighted controls make it a dynamic masterpiece.

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