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Ford Fiesta (2012 - 2017) review

The previous generation Ford Fiesta is still a pretty competitive machine, even though it's been replaced

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£15,885 to £24,105
  • Attractive styling, fantastic to drive, cheap to run
  • Rivals are more spacious, some low-rent plastics, Bluetooth is extra

The arrival of the Ford Fiesta Mk8 has put the Mk7 to pasture, but it's still a good supermini. Part of its appeal lies in its value for money, although the axing of the Studio and Style trim levels in 2016 means that newer models aren't the bargain they used to be. Ford ditched the entry-level versions to make way for the Ka+, which essentially led to a £3,000 price hike for the cheapest model. The roll-out range started from £13,995 for the three-door Zetec with the ageing 1.25-litre engine. 

• Ford Fiesta at 40

At the end of its run, the Fiesta Mk7 range was simple to understand. Trim levels kicked off with the familiar Zetec model, and included ST-Line, ST-Line Red and Black Editions, Titanium and Titanium X. Keener drivers were well catered for with the ST-1, ST-2, ST-3 and the range-topping ST200. The Fiesta ST was one of our favourite small hot hatchbacks and remains a class benchmark.

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• Best superminis

There were a number of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, including our favourite, the 1.0T EcoBoost, which does 65.7mpg and is scarcely going to cost much more to run than the 1.0-litre ECOnetic engine. 

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It’s testament to the Fiesta Mk7's essential ‘rightness’ that highly competent rivals such as the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Skoda Fabia, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo haven’t diminished its appeal. In fact nowadays the Fiesta faces competition from its most diverse range of rivals ever, with models such as the Alfa Romeo MiTo, Dacia Sandero, Hyundai i20 and Suzuki Swift also lining up to take on the ubiquitous Ford.

The Ford Fiesta Mk7 was the UK's best selling car since it went on sale in 2008. And once you've driven one, it's quite easy to see why. The Fiesta was quite simply one of the best all-round small hatchbacks available. Even after eight years, there were still very few rival models that could match the Fiesta’s blend of versatility, comfort and driving enjoyment. And with a range of very frugal petrol and diesel engines, as well as decent residual values, it was cost-effective to own, too.

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All that makes the Fiesta one of the most satisfying used small cars you can buy. It’s not perfect – the cabin’s button-heavy styling is dating fast, and others offer better quality – but it remains near the top of its class.

Engines, performance and drive

From very frugal and quite sluggish to quite frugal and very fast, the Fiesta range covers all bases – but each drives superbly

The Fiesta Mk7 has a reputation for delivering fun handling and an entertaining drive, and it can still show its most recent competitors a thing or two about driver involvement.

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The steering is light and direct, making the car nimble and fun to drive, while easy-to-use controls and good visibility make the Fiesta a confidence-inspiring partner around town. On the motorway, a smooth ride and a quiet interior give it a ‘grown up’ feel.

Despite coming with electronic stability control and traction control as standard, the Fiesta has a ‘natural’ feel to the driving experience that even some sports cars can’t match. The brakes are excellent too, easy to operate smoothly while powerful too. That’s especially the case with the beefed up brakes fitted to the most powerful ST model.

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The Fiesta is a great all-rounder then, though the Volkswagen Polo is the class leader in terms of outright refinement, especially at higher speeds. 

As well as the standard five-speed manual gearbox, which has a nicely slick shifting action, Ford also offers the Fiesta with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s called Powershift and available on Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X models, powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine or the wheezy and outdated 1.6-litre petrol.

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Powershift is quick to change gears and almost as smooth as a traditional torque convertor automatic, but it’s a shame that it’s still not as refined as the standard-setting Volkswagen dual-clutch DSG unit. What’s more, manual shifts are only available via a tiny and counterintuitive rocker switch mounted on the lever, rather than more handly steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters.

Engines

Our favourite Fiesta engine is the 1.0-litre turbo EcoBoost with 98bhp, which not only has more than enough low end grunt for the supermini, it’s also keen to rev and sounds characterful with it. In the real world, this means confidence-inspiring overtaking pace that allows you to power up motorway inclines even in top gear – hills that would leave some small cars struggling.

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A low power 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine was also available, without the turbo of the EcoBoost models and producing 79bhp. It's a smooth, characterful and thrummy unit, but you have to work it hard to make progress.

Compared to the aforementioned 98bhp EcoBoost there’s really no contest – that’s the one to have. However, if you’re looking for a little more power there’s a 123bhp version of the turbo EcoBoost, which really does feel like a bigger engine than the three-cylinder 1.0-litre it is. 

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The 98bhp engine does 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds, and the 123bhp version in 9.4 – not quite in the hot hatchback league, but good enough for safe overtaking. Both versions are smooth and quiet too.

The other 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine takes power up to 138bhp, naturally offering an even quicker 0-62mph time – 9 seconds flat – while still retaining good economy and refinement. It’s only available in ST-Line trim so buyers of this engine must also deal with firmer suspension and a sporty-looking body kit. Those wanting to stick with the 1.0 but add even more power should look for a car tweaked by specialist tuner Mountune, that had an upgrade that could tweak the car's ECU to deliver up to 163bhp.

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Amazingly, Ford still offered its long-serving 1.25-litre four-cylinder petrol alongside its newer three-cylinder units. Available with either 59bhp or 81bhp, this powerplant is still eager and smooth enough, but it can't match its modern counterparts for efficiency.

Next there’s the 180bhp EcoBoost engine of the high-performance Fiesta ST, this time using four cylinders and a 1.6-litre capacity. Throaty sounding and packing a serious punch, this engine pushes the Fiesta ST to 62mph in under seven seconds – though economy suffers, dipping below 50mpg. Again, Mountune will offered performance tweaks to up the ante even further.

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At the top of the range is the limited run (just 400 examples have been earmaked for UK buyers) ST200. Based on the standard ST, it gets 197bhp an 290Nm of torque, while an overboost function swells these figures to 212bhp and 320Nm respectively for 20 second full throttle bursts. in combination with a subtly revised final drive ratio for the gearbox it results in a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a 142mph top speed.

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Only one diesel featured at the end of the Fiesta Mk7 production run: a 1.5-litre TDCi, although it was available in two power outputs. We’d recommend the most powerful 93bhp version. It can do 0-62mph in a reasonable 10.9 seconds, compared with the 72bhp version's 13.5 seconds. 

As with most small cars, the difference in refinement between diesel and petrol is marked, with the former more obviously chugging away under the bonnet of the Fiesta, especially after cold starts.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

Generally very cheap to run, the Fiesta range uses small capacity engines and turbocharging to great effect

A supermini should be cheap to run, and happily the Ford Fiesta doesn’t disappoint in this area. For those seeking the best possible fuel economy, the Fiesta ECOnetic fitted with the 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine is the star turn, boasting CO2 emissions of just 82g/km and combined fuel economy of more than 85mpg. That said, be wary of overall running costs because the ECOnetic badge carries a premium, while Ford claims every diesel Fiesta is capable of more than 75mpg.

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Given that the majority of small hatchbacks like the Fiesta are used for short journeys, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol will be a sensible bet for most. Of course, go for a car registered before 1 April 2016, and if it has emissions below 100g/km, it qualifies for free road tax. Both the 98bhp and 123bhp engines emit 99g/km CO2, ST-Line models with 138bhp push this up to 104g/km.

The 79bhp version of what is basically the same engine sits at the other end of the scale. It matches the 98bhp EcoBoost for running costs, but we'd recommend spending the additional £500-odd to step up in power, where the engine has to be worked less hard.

If you must have the 1.25-litre, then it's worth bearing in mind that it can't compete with the 1.0-litre units for efficiency. Both the 59bhp and the 81bhp versions emit the same 122g/km of CO2 and claim to return 54.3mpg at the pumps.

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If fuel costs are less a concern than performance, you won’t mind the penalty that a Fiesta ST brings, with its 138g/km CO2 rating and, realistically, 35-40mpg day-to-day. As it happens that’s the same CO2 rating as the Fiesta automatic with the 1.6-litre petrol engine, meaning the convenience of no clutch pedal will also hit you in the pocket.

During regular day-to-day driving you can expect to return close to 50mpg in the more frugal petrol models (ST aside, that is) and in excess of 60mpg in the diesels.

Insurance groups

Ford Fiesta insurance ratings begin at a scooter-like group 3 for the most basic model, while most fall between 11 and 12. The sporty ST-Line comes in at a slightly prohibitive 18, though that jumps all the way to 30 for the range-topping ST, reflective of its performance and desirability. In general, you'll pay a little more to insure a Fiesta than you would a Vauxhall Corsa or Hyundai i20.

Depreciation

Our experts predict that the Ford Fiesta will hold onto its value reasonably well, with an estimated figure of 39.7 per cent after three years. That’s not bad at all considering it’s Britain’s best selling car – and more desirable versions like the ST will top 40 per cent. Of course, now there's a newer model on sale, these predictions will only be adjusted downwards.

Interior, design and technology

Spacious and versatile, the Fiesta is an easy supermini to live with and has some clever tech – but the dashboard is dating

As it’s such a common sight in the UK, it’s a good job the Fiesta Mk7 has a rather striking design. The overall style is sporty and dramatic when compared to its closest rivals, with a rising waistline that gives the Ford a rakish profile. Distinctive LED daytime running lights feature on all versions, apart from the entry-level Studio.

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The Zetec – the best-selling model in the Ford Fiesta range – gets some extra glamour courtesy of its 15-inch alloys, front fog lights, additional chrome trim and body-coloured door handles and mirrors as standard kit.

There's also the option of an eye-catching Zetec Colour Edition that features Frozen White paintwork with contrasting Candy Blue roof panel and door mirrors, or Candy Blue panels with Frozen White finish for the roof and doors. Both versions get white 15-inch alloys and privacy glass, while inside the steering wheel and gearlever gaitor get white stitching.

In the middle of 2014, Ford released Red and Black Edition versions of the Fiesta. As the name alludes to, these get 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, while the Red Edition is essentially the reverse. They get some sporty interior updates, too, like red stitching and sports seats.

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These boldly coloured models are now part of the recently introduced ST-Line range. This sporty variant gets an ST inspired bodykit that comprises a large tailgate spoiler, side skirts and a deeper front bumper, plus it benefits from unique gunmetal grey 17-inch alloys. Inside there are sport seats and a chunky three-spoke steering wheel, while under the skin is a lowered and stiffened suspension set-up.

At the top of the range is the Fiesta ST hot hatch. Featuring an aggressive body kit, 17-inch alloy wheels and a smattering of ST logos, it makes no bones about its performance potential. The ST200 adds a two-tone finish for the wheels, plus bespoke SVO Storm Grey metallic paint. Inside it's identified by its seatbelts that feature a silver contrast stripe and a half leather finish for its heated Recaro seats.

Every Ford Fiesta gets electric windows and a USB connection as standard, while Style adds air-con, remote central locking and body-coloured door mirrors and handles. The Zetec gets all this kit, plus desirable extras such as a heated windscreen, leather steering wheel and trip computer.

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Quality is good generally, 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. The Fiesta’s warm red ambient lighting helps give the cabin a classy feel at night.

The chunky rotary controls for the air-con are clear enough, but the blocky blue LCD display looks quite dated when compared to the colour screens and white-on-black read-outs found in newer rivals. There’s plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel, so it’s easy for drivers to get comfortable. ST models benefit further from figure-hugging Recaro seats.

A key piece of technology in the Fiesta, literally, is Ford’s MyKey system, which basically allows the owner to restrict things like speed and stereo volume – the sort of things that a parent might like to rein-in should one of their children borrow the car.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Ford Fiesta is attractive inside, although while some will find the sweeping design of the dash very pleasing, it has lots of small buttons and doesn’t have the restrained, simple class of something like the Volkswagen Polo. That’s mostly down to the stereo controls, which take a little getting used to and certainly don’t give the Fiesta an especially cutting edge feel; the design was based on the keys of a 2007-era mobile phone. 

The Sony unit in the Titanium and ST versions is a little clearer, however – and gives sound quality a welcome boost at higher volumes. Frustratingly, Ford charged an extra £200 for Bluetooth and a DAB radio on the entry-level Studio, although it’s standard elsewhere. 

Practicality, comfort and boot space

A versatile and spacious five-seater given its dimensions. MPV-type superminis are more practical, if less dynamic

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-inspired rivals like the Nissan Note and Honda Jazz for space and family-friendly practicality.

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What it does get spot on is the driving position, which is highly adjustable and should prove comfortable for people at either end of the body size spectrum. Combine that with the Fiesta’s very supple ride quality on all but the roughest of roads, and you’ve got a supermini with genuine big car feel from the front.

A split-folding rear bench is standard, which means at least one person can travel in the back if bulkier items in the boot require part of the seat to be folded down.

Size

The Fiesta’s dimensions are pretty much standard for a car in this class, and virtually identical regardless of whether it’s three-door or five-door car. We say ‘virtually’ because, oddly, the five-door is a few millimetres wider.

But this is not a car that ever feels large or unwieldy around town, as per other cars of its size like the Vauxhall Corsa or Volkswagen Polo. It’s easy to judge where the corners are – aided by good all round visibility – and therefore very easy to park or squeeze into gaps in traffic. 

Leg room, head room & passenger space

The 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. A one-litre water bottle will fit in the door pockets, while higher-specification models get a centre console armrest that doubles as a deep storage bin. 

Access has been equally carefully considered, including on the three-door, which makes rear access easy with wide-opening doors and front seats that slide forward with an easy lever pull. 

Boot

Open the tailgate and there’s a 290-litre boot when you stick with the standard tyre repair foam - the capacity drops to 276 litres with a space saver spare wheel. With the seats down there are 974 litres to play with, but the high load lip and narrow tailgate mean the Fiesta has a somewhat restricted boot; increasingly, small cars are offering twin-level boot floors with a raised loading lip, but the Fiesta doesn’t have this. 

Reliability and Safety

A five-star Euro NCAP rating and a host of features including the clever MyKey mean the Fiesta always feels safe

Auto Express's reliability ratings are based on our Driver Power survey of over 30,000 car owners. Ratings are the average for all owners of this car who responded.

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With a new Fiesta waiting in the wings, it’s hardly surprising that the outgoing model is beginning to show its age. Having jumped from 117th in 2013 to 52nd in 2015, the Fiesta dropped back to 105th in 2016, although owners were quick to praise its road handling, ease of driving and reliability. You should have few concerns if you buy one new today.

Negative scores come in for practicality though, with the Fiesta not using its space as well as newer rivals, while build quality is also a persistent problem.

A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating shows that the Fiesta offers top-notch crash safety, and all models include electronic stability control, seven airbags and anti-lock brakes. MyKey is a brilliant peace-of-mind safety assistant for younger drivers, while Active City Stop – a system that automatically applies the brakes if it detects an imminent low speed crash – is optional too.

Warranty

The Fiesta carries the same warranty as all new Ford passenger cars, meaning three years/60,000 miles for mechanicals and a six-year corrosion warranty.  A year’s free Ford Assistance covers roadside recovery and repair too. All of this is transferable to subsequent owners if the car is sold on.

Those opting for Mountune upgrades should note that some tweaks will invalidate the original manufacturer warranty. Mountune does offer its own 12-month guarantee on any altered parts, though. 

Servicing

Servicing costs are around industry standard. Because Ford’s UK dealership and servicing network is vast, it won’t be a problem to find a nearby dealer – and shop around a few for the best price. Parts availability is, it follows, excellent too.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.1 75 Trend 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £15,885

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 TDCi Trend 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,485

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 EcoBoost ST-2 Navigation 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,155
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