Ford Fiesta Review
The Ford Fiesta is a small car that you’ll love driving. It’s cheap to buy and run, stylish to look at and available with lots of high-tech kit, although alternatives are roomier
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Great fun to drive
- Decent standard infotainment
- Nippy 100hp petrol engine
What's not so good
- ST-Line models feel firm
- Alternatives have more rear space...
- ...and bigger boots
Ford Fiesta: what would you like to read next?
If you haven’t owned a Ford Fiesta yourself, then you’ll almost certainly know somebody who has. It’s been the UK’s best-selling model for years and this latest model gives you the best of both worlds. On the one hand it has some high-tech features you normally only find on more expensive cars, but it also offers all the benefits of a small car: it’s economical, nippy and easy to manoeuvre.
The Fiesta is an alternative to other big-selling small cars, such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. You have the choice between three and five-door hatchback models, while there’s also a more rugged Active version and the sporty ST. Those latter models we’ve reviewed separately.
In entry-level Zetec guise, the Ford Fiesta looks smart but unassuming, ST-Line versions get a sporty makeover with more aggressive bumpers and a little spoiler on the boot, while range-topping Vignale models get a fancy chrome grille.
The Ford Fiesta’s interior doesn’t look quite as trendy – if you want a small car that feels properly funky then the Citroen C3 is a better bet. On the plus side, the Ford Fiesta’s dashboard is covered in soft-touch plastics that feel more expensive than the materials you’ll find in a SEAT Ibiza, while Ford’s standard 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system is bright and sharp.
Things are pretty rosy for anyone in the front seats, but you won’t be blown away by the Ford Fiesta’s back-seat practicality. In fact, the rear seats are fairly cramped, even in five-door models, and the VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza are much better bets if you’re going to carry passengers regularly. The Ford Fiesta’s boot isn’t as big as the Polo’s or Ibiza’s, either, but there’s still room for a big suitcase plus some extra soft bags.
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
What the Ford Fiesta lacks in practicality it more than makes up for with the way it drives. It’s one of the most fun small cars to drive, thanks to its accurate steering and heaps of grip. It’s safe, too, though, and has lots of optional kit including adaptive cruise control to help keep you a set distance from the car in front without touching the pedals.
Mind you, it’s not all about going quickly, and the Ford Fiesta is still impressive if you tend to drive more sedately. The cabin is quiet and most models get a six-speed manual gearbox that helps keep engine noise down at motorway speeds. The suspension does a good job of ironing out bumps in the road, too, although it’s worth noting that the sportier ST-Line version’s suspension does feel a bit less comfy than other models around town.
Without a doubt, the stars of the show are the Fiesta’s superb turbocharged petrol engines, although you only really need the 100hp version of the 1.0-litre. Not only is it more than capable of getting you up to speed, it’s also pretty economical and has a rorty sound when you accelerate.
When you take the Ford Fiesta’s reasonable price and generous equipment list into account, it’s a superb small car, especially if you’re happy to prioritise fun and technology over outright practicality.
The Ford Fiesta’s interior is smart looking and logically laid out but the best quality is reserved for expensive top-spec Vignale models
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
Space in the back is just about OK for adults but the optional panoramic sunroof will cause nothing but discomfort for your taller passengers on long journeys
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
Okay, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost's 100hp doesn't sound like much, but it's a perfect amount of power for the Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is available with a choice of no less than seven engines – five petrols and two diesels.
The choice is simple, really – the 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol is the engine to have. Even the 100hp model feels nippy, getting from 0-62mph in a perfectly respectable 10.5 seconds and sounding pretty sporty doing it. Its eager performance is a great match for the Fiesta and official fuel economy of 65.7mpg means it will be cheap to run, even if getting that exact figure will be nigh on impossible – expect closer to 45mpg in the real world.
The same engine can be had with incremental performance boosts to 125 and 140hp and that added shove will make sense if you regularly drive on the motorway. For example, the 140hp model can sprint from 31 to 62mph a full 2.5 seconds quicker than the 100hp model, a useful difference when you’re joining the motorway with an HGV barreling up the slow lane.
In fact, the petrol engines are so good, there’s little reason to choose one of the diesels unless you do galactic miles. If you do spend all your time on the motorway, though, you can choose from 1.5-litre diesel models with either 85 or 120hp. Both should be able to clear fuel economy of 55mpg, but they cost more than the equivalent petrols and don’t feel quite so nippy.
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 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.