Ford Fiesta Hatchback review (2002-2008)
The bargain-priced Fiesta ST is basic but hugely entertaining and very good value.
Driving All the controls are nicely weighted - crucial for a hot hatch. The five-speed gearbox has a slick shift, the brakes offer decent bite and throttle response is sharp. The steering is also excellent, as the ST turns in quickly and darts towards the apex of a corner keenly. There's bags of front-end grip and the tightly controlled body provides the ST with an agility that reminds you of back-to-basics hot hatches of old. What's more, the chassis enables you to tighten your line mid-way through a corner - and this, combined with the communicative steering, makes the Fiesta very involving. The Ford also rides well. It's firm, but doesn't judder over imperfections. But while the 2.0-litre Duratec engine is the biggest in this sector, big isn't always best! It lacks character and, because it's not turbocharged, has to be worked very hard to generate performance. You need to use all the revs right up to the 7,000rpm red line, and under hard load the Fiesta becomes coarse and noisy. It lacks low-down punch and flexibility too, as proven during our in-gear acceleration times. It's also noisy at motorway speeds.
Marketplace If there's one thing Ford has always been good at, it's building hot hatches. And due to the huge success of models such as the XR2, sporty Fiestas have always been among the most popular. The design reflects this, with sporty bumpers, side skirts and 17-inch wheels combining to give a sharp look. The front foglights and mesh grille are also trademark performance Ford cues. There's only one model in the line-up, and its price makes it something of a bargain for a junior hot hatch - especially as its 2.0-litre engine generates 148bhp. Rivals include the VW Polo GTI, Seat Ibiza FR and MINI Cooper.
Owning The Fiesta's mid-life facelift brought a soft-touch upper dash - although if you look hard enough, the lower sections remain a bit on the brittle side. We like the standard leather-edged seats and the dash layout is clear and simple. The seating position isn't bad, either, but the driver's chair could do with being set lower and there's no steering wheel adjustment. That aside, there's little wrong with the Ford's cabin; it's basic, but leg and headroom is generous, and the boot a decent size. Ford's vast dealer network also means servicing is straightforward and inexpensive, even if intervals are a bit short at 12,500 miles. Retained values are excellent, but while the Ford's quoted economy figures aren't bad, in our hands it averaged just 25mpg. This is because the engine has to be worked so hard to keep up with rivals. The insurance rating is fair at 13, though.