Ford Fiesta

Comfortable ride and sharp handling disguise Fiesta’s age

8.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 30 reviews
  • Still great to drive
  • Economical engines
  • Clever MyKey technology
  • Interior a bit dated
  • Not as spacious as rivals
  • Quite pricey
 

£13,545 - £19,145 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

47 - 88 MPG

Review

The Ford Fiesta is a supermini that does battle in a cut-throat class that includes the Hyundai i20, Mazda2 and Skoda Fabia – all of which feature fresher designs than the sweet-handling Ford.

Not one to accept defeat, Ford’s done a pretty good job of disguising its supermini’s age. A chrome grille that bares more than a passing resemblance to an Aston Martin’s does a world of good for the exterior and the boot-mounted spoiler cements the sporty theme.

Where the Fiesta’s age really shows is on the inside. There newer rivals offer more space – that counts for passengers and luggage – and the design itself is smart, but dated to operate, with a confusing sprinkling of buttons standing in for the larger infotainment screens fitted to competitors.

Nevertheless, you can live with the Fiesta’s less-than-stellar interior once you get behind the wheel and drive it. Blessed with quick and accurate steering, a slick manual gearbox and well-weighted controls, it’s a joy to shuffle down a country road. Constrained to city limits, it impresses too because the suspension irons out low-speed bumps in a way that the new blood hasn’t yet mastered.

To truly liberate the Fiesta’s handling talents, take a look at the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. It’s far from the cheapest model, but rewards your investment with fizzy performance and impressive fuel economy, although the headline figure of 76mpg is nearly impossible to achieve. If you want more power read our review of the Fiesta ST, which is the best hot hatch currently on sale. Unsurprisingly, 1.5-litre diesel  models offer the lowest running costs and are the ones to choose if you cover a lot of motorway miles.

With an all-new Fiesta due in 2017, Ford has scaled back the model’s model lineup scrapping entry level trims for more-generously-equipped special editions. Formerly a mid-range trim level, Zetec is now the entry point to the range, but alloy wheels and chrome trim mean it doesn’t look like it, and air-conditioning now comes as standard.

Parallelograms, circles and rectangles make the Fiesta’s interior a geometrician’s paradise and form together to make the dashboard an appealing thing to look at. It might not have the tank-like build quality of a Volkswagen Polo, but the main parts of the cabin are finished in high-quality plastics and stylish trims.

Nice to look at, but is it easy to use?

Sadly not. Top-of-the-range models feature a bewildering array of dashboard buttons and knobs (we counted more than 50), which can lead to information overload if you’re trying to find just one on the move.

The tiny infotainment screen doesn’t help – mid-range models and above get a 4.2 TFT display, with a five-inch screen being optional on Titanium and Titanium X trim. Either way, neither are touchscreen and both are significantly smaller than the ones you’ll get on rivals such as the Skoda Fabia.

And, as the Ford system does without MirrorLink or Apple CarPlay, you’re forced to operate the system through its laborious controls, so each character of a postcode has to be entered in individually via a scroll knob, rather than simply being typed.

Ford’s SYNC system makes up for this to a certain extent. It can stream music wirelessly, read text messages aloud and understands voice commands, although the latter function is notoriously hit and miss if (like the some of the carwow office) the Queen’s English doesn’t flow from your tongue.

A nice feature for kill-joy (should we say responsible) parents, is Ford’s MyKey system that can restrict the car’s performance, lessening the chances of it being transformed into a hedge-bound fireball with one of your children at the wheel.

Ford Fiesta interior space

Sad to say, the interior isn’t just badly designed it’s also quite tight. Superminis have grown in size since the Fiesta was originally conceived – a Skoda Fabia is both longer and wider – and that’s apparent when you squeeze into the back of the Fiesta, which is down on head, leg and elbowroom. That’s true whether you go for three or five-door models.

Ford’s experience of building car’s like the Mondeo – whose owners spend lots of time behind the wheel – shows in the Fiesta, which has got lots of useful cubbies to store everything from bottles of water to phones, keys and change.

Ford Fiesta boot space

Accommodating larger items isn’t so easy. The Fiesta’s 290-litre boot is small when compared to the 330 litres a Fabia offers and, while both cars suffer from a high load lip, the Skoda compensates with a boxy shape and a two-position parcel shelf that lets you separate delicates. Outright space of 974 litres isn’t brilliant either, and when the Ford’s rear seats are folded away there’s an annoying step in the floor that makes loading longer items a teeny bit awkward.

Mooching around town is what the Fiesta’s primarily designed for and its light controls, small dimensions and excellent visibility make it perfect for slipping through traffic and into tight parking spaces. There’s even some enjoyment to be taken from the whole experience – the slick five-speed manual gearbox is easy to use (a PowerShift twin-clutch auto is optional) and the steering’s accurate and responsive. Even the suspension is perfect for the cobbles and broken surfaces you get in town, soaking up bumps in a way that makes the Fiesta feel like a bigger car.

It pulls off the same trick on the motorway. At a cruise it’s pretty quiet inside – although the basic 1.25-litre petrol engine sounds strained – the ride remains soft and the seats are comfortable.

Swap the monotony of a long motorway journey for some entertaining A and B roads and the Fiesta can reward like no rival. The suspension doesn’t allow for too much body roll, so the car feels very predictable even at speed.

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has just enough power to make the Fiesta feel quick and it delivers its performance with an engaging rasp that makes thrashing it a pleasure, not a chore.

While the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is the pick of the range, there are reasons why it might not be the best option for everyone. Cost is one of two stumbling blocks – you’ll pay nearly £4,000 premium for the fancy 1.0-litre compared to the basic 1.25-litre petrol. The other is running costs, Ford claims fuel economy of more than 65mpg, but you’ll need the patience of Christ himself to get anywhere near that figure.

Diesels still return the best fuel economy then?

They do. Ford offers two 1.5-litre models with 74 or 94hp and their healthy levels of low-down pulling power mean the quoted fuel economy (of plus-75mpg) will be easier to achieve than the EcoBoost’s official figure.

You can go a step further by choosing the ECOnetic model, which can claim to be the most fuel-efficient Fiesta ever built. Various mechanical changes, regenerative braking, engine stop-start tech, low-rolling resistance tyres, improved aerodynamics and taller gears help it to fuel economy of 88.3mpg, and super-low CO2 emissions of 82g/km mean it doesn’t pay road tax.

And what of the petrols?

Assuming you don’t want to stump up for the clever EcoBoost petrol, there are other options. The 59hp 1.25-litre petrol is the cheapest in the range but, with 0-62mph taking a leisurely 16.9 seconds, it feels it.

The 81hp version returns exactly the same fuel economy of 54.3mpg and won’t be as mind-numbingly slow at higher speeds.

Finally, there’s the 1.6-litre petrol that’s available in combination with Ford’s PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Much like the 1.25-litre engine, the 1.6 uses a dated design that can’t compete with high-tech small capacity units – a point illustrated by its fuel economy of sub-50mpg.

Okay, you’ve convinced me on the EcoBoost

We’re glad. Ford offers it with 99 123 and 138hp, with just £750 splitting the three models in terms of price. The basic version has everything you need, though, and although its official fuel economy of 65mpg will be hard to achieve, it should be much more economical than the basic 1.25-litre model, and gets from 0-62mph in a far more acceptable 11.2 seconds.

Finally, there’s an 82hp model – essentially an EcoBoost without a turbo, it is quite slow and no more economical than models with a performance-boosting turbo fitted.

The Fiesta's 1.0-litre petrol engine is an inexpensive alternative to the turbocharged Ecoboost variants. It's essentially the same engine, just without the turbo - and as such, it has the same official 65.7 mpg fuel economy figure and dodges a yearly VED fee.

Like its boosted brethren, it also gets good reviews from the experts. Performance isn't up to that of the turbo'd models (officially, it lumbers to 60 in 14.9 seconds) and reviewers do say you need to work the engine hard. It's also noisier than the Ecoboost cars - turbochargers tend to muffle a car's exhaust noise.

It's still a "willing" engine though, and settles down at motorway speeds - where it doesn't feel too out of its depth. And it handles as well as any other Fiesta, so it's worth a look for those who tend to stick to city driving.

Ford's excellent Ecoboost engine is undoubtedly the pick of the Fiesta range right now. Displacing three cylinders and just a litre in capacity, it's available in two flavours - one with just under 100 horsepower, and another with just under 125. Each gets an identical 65.7 mpg (officially, at least) and at 99 g/km of CO2, dodges vehicle tax.

Reviewers love it. One tester says the engines offer "plenty for the keen driver", and it's very refined indeed - the three-cylinder thrum doesn't result in much vibration, and is only really audible at higher revs.

Torque is good too. On-paper figures put the 125 PS car as the faster, naturally - 0-60 takes 9.4 seconds, as opposed to 11.2 - but you'll rarely feel hard done-by in the 100 PS car.

The only real issue is that real-world economy is nowhere near official figures - 40 mpg is more common. The optional automatic is a decent transmission, but it's even less frugal than the manuals.

Review coming soon!
The poor diesel models haven’t had much attention in the Fiesta range since the Ecoboost arrived, and in some ways it isn’t hard to see why. Ford’s 1.6-litre TDCi is a perfectly competent engine and as diesels go, fairly refined - but the clatter and rumble still sounds uncouth next to the smooth, thrummy 3-cylinder petrol cars. There’s good torque, but that’s something hardly lacking from the Ecoboosts, and with 94 horsepower its performance now lags a little behind the petrol cars too.

It does have a few trump cards, still - the diesel still lugs in the mid-range better than the petrols, and official economy of 78.5 mpg is much higher. While you may not meet that in every-day driving, you’re still likely to see higher numbers than you would in the petrol cars. Do remember that diesel is the more expensive fuel though, so do your sums before buying to ensure the economy trade-off is worth it.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews of the new Ford Fiesta.

The Fiesta was crash-tested by Euro NCAP following its 2012 facelift and was awarded the full five stars. However, safety criteria has become more stringent in recent years so expect newer cars to be safer.

That doesn’t mean the Fiesta is an unsafe car – it packs seven airbags when some rivals have six and has the latest stability and traction control systems.

A unique feature in all Fiesta models is the MyKey system, which allows the owner to limit the car’s top speed and the volume of the stereo – perfect for teenage drivers, from an adult owner’s perspective at least. Zetec models and above have the £200 option of automatic emergency city braking, too.

With the new Fiesta’s launch pencilled in for 2017, Ford has rejigged the current model range, replacing basic Style and Studio models with better-equipped special editions that could prove irresistible for bargain hunters.

Should I really be buying a model that’s about to be replaced?

There’s no doubt residual values of the current car will drop when the new model is launched, but bargains are to be had nonetheless.

Formerly a mid-range trim level, Zetec now finds itself at the bottom of the pack. For a basic model, it looks smart and is extremely well equipped. On the outside, you get 15-inch alloy wheels, chrome surrounds for the windows and a pair of front fog lights. There’s a similarly sporty feel to the inside too, where the steering wheel, handbrake handle and gear knob are trimmed in leather. Kit includes remote central locking, air conditioning and a heated windscreen that can clear fog in seconds.

There are also a couple of special editions called the Zetec Blue Edition and the Zetec White Edition. They add a contrasting blue-white paint finish.

Ford Fiesta ST-Line

ST-Line models have the sporty looks of the Fiesta ST hot hatch, but not the high running costs of its 180hp engine. They get 17-inch alloy wheels, an ST body kit, lowered suspension, LED rear lights, and a larger boot-mounted spoiler. The interior has also been given the once-over, so gets sports seats and pedals, plus a 4.2-inch TFT central display and cool mood lighting.
Special editions are available here, too, called the Black and Red Editions, they have a contrasting red-black paint finish and only come with the more-powerful 140hp EcoBoost engine.

Ford Fiesta Titanium

Based on Zetec trim, Titanium models get 16-inch alloy wheels, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights and puddle lights that illuminate the car’s sides when you ‘plip’ the remote central locking.

Ford Fiesta Titanium X

Top-of-the-range Titanium X trim makes the Fiesta quite luxurious. It has all the kit found in the Titanium but boosted with keyless entry and rear parking sensors.

Conclusion

The Ford Fiesta displays anti-aging properties that the cosmetic industry would be keen to harness. The styling looks as fresh as it did from launch and the driving experience only seems to get better with years. Yes, it’s about to get replaced, and yes the interior might not display the timeless qualities of the exterior, but the Fiesta has been a UK bestseller for a reason and it remains a hard car ignore – especially when you consider the £3,000 average saving you can make buying one from the good people at carwow.

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