Ford Fiesta Review
The Ford Fiesta is one of the best-selling cars in the UK for a reason. It’s great value, fun to drive and efficient, although it could be roomier.
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Just about everyone has been in a Ford Fiesta at some point in their life. It’s one of the UK’s best-selling cars, and the latest version also happens to be one of the best-value cars around. It’s full of the kind of tech new car buyers want, but at an affordable price and with a superb drive.
But like a child at an ice cream shop, you might be struggling to choose between the many flavours of small car. Alternatives include the Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo, each with their own merits and drawbacks.
The Ford comes in three and five-door hatchback forms, along with the rugged Active version and the sporty ST. Those latter models we’ve reviewed separately.
In low-spec form, the Ford Fiesta looks smart enough, if a little on the plain side. ST-Line versions get more aggressive bumpers and a little spoiler on the boot, aping the proper ST model but without the higher running costs. The expensive Vignale versions get a plusher interior.
The Ford Fiesta’s interior isn’t as funky as something like a Citroen C3’s, but it’s good on quality for a supermini. That’s because the Fiesta’s dashboard is covered in soft-touch materials that feel more expensive than the plastics in a SEAT Ibiza – and the Ford’s standard 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system is sharp and easy to use.
It’s spacious enough in the front seats, but the Ford Fiesta’s back-seat practicality isn’t as good as in some alternatives. The rear seats are a bit cramped, even in five-door models, and the VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza are better in this area. The Ford’ boot isn’t as big as the Polo’s or Ibiza’s, either, but it’s not too far below par for a supermini.
The Fiesta is a lot of fun to drive for a small car – but you certainly won’t be smiling so hard if you’re asked to sit in the back seats
Yet the reason the Fiesta is so brilliant is down to the way it drives. While the sporty ST models are a match for some sports cars when it comes to handling, even the most basic Fiestas are a lot of fun. Lower-spec cars ride more smoothly, too.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use and can add to the fun even if you’re just pottering about. The comfortable seats and good driving position all add to the car’s appeal as well.
There’s also a range of superb turbocharged petrol engines, our favourite being the 95hp version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder. It’s more than capable of getting you up to speed, yet it’s also pretty economical and has a pleasant sound when you accelerate.
With lots of standard kit including that excellent 8-inch screen (with smartphone connectivity) and a good amount of safety kit, it’s great value as well, undercutting the VW Polo like-for-like.
If the Ford Fiesta is good enough for millions of Brits, it’s bound to be worth your attention too, right? Head to our deals page to find one that’s right for you.
The Ford Fiesta’s boot and back seats might be much roomier than the old model’s but it’s still not quite as spacious as some similarly-sized alternatives.
Even entry-level models of the Ford Fiesta have a height-adjustable driver’s seat and the steering wheel also moves for rake and reach, so getting comfy isn’t a problem.
Titanium X and Vignale models come with a height-adjustable passenger seat and lumbar adjustment for both front seats, while Titanium and ST-Line X cars can have that kit plus a panoramic sunroof as part of an inexpensive pack.
Beware, though – the glass roof eats into rear headroom, which isn’t super generous to begin with. Space in the back isn’t terrible – a six-foot-tall passenger can fit, but they won’t want to be crammed in there for too long. Really, you’re better off looking at the more-spacious SEAT Ibiza or VW Polo if you’re planning to carry adults in the back.
If you’re going to be using the back seats regularly then go for a five-door Ford Fiesta. They cost extra, but make back-seat access much easier. The Ford’s Isofix points are marked clearly but getting the top of the seat through to the rear door opening is a little bit awkward.
The Ford Fiesta has a number of smaller storage areas for hiding away your day-to-day clutter.
The glovebox is big enough for a bottle of water and the door pockets will take a bottle, too. All versions get two cupholders, a place for your sunglasses in the headlining and ST-Line models and above have a centre armrest with a small storage area underneath it.
The Ford Fiesta’s 292-litre boot is bigger than the old model’s, but it’s still a good bit shy of the 355-litre load bay you get in a SEAT Ibiza. It’s practical though, particularly if you go for the cheap-to-add adjustable boot floor, which eliminates any load lip and thus makes it much easier to slide heavy items into the boot.
It’s also handy when you’ve got the rear seats folded down, giving you a completely flat floor, so it’s much easier to make full use of the Fiesta’s 1,093-litre capacity. All Ford Fiesta models get rear seats that fold down in a 60:40 split, meaning that you can have a passenger in the back as well as a long load poking through from the boot.
The Ford Fiesta is a lot of fun to drive on a country road, yet it’s also quiet on the motorway and easy to manoeuvre in town. ST-Lines are a little uncomfortable, though.
The Ford Fiesta is available with a choice of four engines – three petrols and one diesels.
The choice is simple, really – the 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol is the engine to have. Even the 95hp model feels nippy – its eager performance is a great match for the Fiesta and it will be cheap to run, with economy of around 55mpg.
The same engine can be had with a mild hybrid set-up to boost performance and efficiency. This version has 125hp. There’s also a 1.1-litre 3-cylinder that’s aimed at young drivers, as it’ll be cheaper to insure with just 75hp.
The petrol engines are so good, there’s little reason to choose the diesel unless you do galactic miles. With 85hp, the 1.5-litre unit is a bit tardy, though economy of around 65mpg is claimed.
The Ford Fiesta is a great car to drive for the price. You get a great idea of how much grip you have, allowing you to use the pin-sharp steering to dart into bends safe in the knowledge that it has the grip needed to fire you out the other end intact.
If that sounds like your type of driving, then it’s worth considering an ST-Line model. They have lowered, stiffened suspension – so lean less in corners – and bigger wheels with grippier tyres.
The ST-Line trim makes less sense in town because it reduces the Ford’s ability to absorb short, sharp bumps, although it is still reasonably comfortable. Small back windows don’t help visibility when you’re glimpsing over your shoulder on busy streets, but the Ford Fiesta’s compact size means it’s still easy enough to reverse park and you can have a rear-view camera for a little extra cost if you’d like a bit of help.
An automatic gearbox is a pricey option but (unless your licence dictates) there’s no need – the Ford Fiesta’s controls are so nice to use that it’s very easy to drive smoothly.
City driving has always come naturally to the Fiesta – it was on the motorway that the old model started to feel out of its depth. Now, though, you get a six-speed gearbox (except on 1.1-litre petrol models, which have a five-speed), which means the engine’s quieter and there’s only a little wind whistle at 70mph.
A lot more frustrating is the fact that the Ford Fiesta doesn’t come with automatic emergency braking as standard, although the price is very reasonable and includes active cruise control which matches the speed of cars in front and accelerates when the way is clear. You also get headlights that dip automatically when they sense traffic coming the other way.
The Ford Fiesta’s interior is smart looking and logically laid out but the best quality is reserved for expensive top-spec Vignale models.