The Ford Fiesta is a small car that you can really enjoy driving. It’s cheap to buy and run, stylish to look at and available with lots of high-tech kit, although alternatives are roomier
For many years, the Ford Fiesta has been one of the top-selling cars in the UK, and with this latest version it’s easy to see why: it’s a good-looking, good-value small car that gives you the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it has some high-tech features you normally only find on more expensive, bigger cars, but at the same time you can enjoy all the benefits of a small car: it’s economical, nippy and easy to manoeuvre.
It’s well over 40 years since Ford started selling the Fiesta, but this most recent model only arrived in 2017. It’s an alternative to other big-selling small cars, such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo, and is available as both a three- and five-door hatchback. In due course, the range will also expand to include the Fiesta Active, a more rugged-looking version of the car, with SUV-inspired looks.
Even without that, there’s plenty of variety in the way the regular hatchback looks. Zetec models appear smart but unassuming, Vignale models get a fancy chrome grille and ST-Line models have a sporty makeover, with sporty bumpers and a little spoiler on the boot. If you want your Fiesta to look as cool as possible, then get the three-door version, but go for the five-door if you need to regularly use the back seats.
Inside, things don’t look quite as trendy, and if you want a small car that feels properly funky then the Citroen C3 is a better bet. But, on the plus side, the Fiesta’s dashboard is covered in soft-touch plastics that feel way more expensive than the rock-hard materials you’ll find in a SEAT Ibiza, and the Ford’s top-spec eight-inch colour infotainment system is really bright and sharp. However, its menus are a bit fiddly to navigate – unlike the system in the VW Polo.
What you might not expect from such a relatively inexpensive small car is the Bang & Olufsen sound system, which is a fairly cheap option on much of the range. It sounds far better than the stereo in any other car of this size and price, and it’s worth buying if you like your tunes and like them loud.
Things are pretty rosy for anyone in the front seats, but you won’t be blown away by the amount of space your rear passengers get. In fact, the back 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 Fiesta’s boot isn’t as big as the Polo’s or Ibiza’s, either, but there’s still room for a big suitcase. Mind you, it’s worth remembering the Fiesta is a small car, so you can’t expect to get all that much stuff in the boot.
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 Fiesta lacks in practicality it more than makes up for with the way it drives. This is 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 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 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 sporty, rorty sound when you accelerate.
When you take the Fiesta’s reasonable price into account, it’s a superb small car, especially if you’re happy to prioritise fun and technology over outright practicality.
If you want to see some of the alternative models, have a look at our list of The top 10 best small cars on sale. Or, you can read more in-depth info on the Ford Fiesta in our the interior, driving and specification reviews sections on the following pages.