Ford Fiesta (2012-2017) review
The Ford Fiesta covers all the important small car bases well – it’s easy to drive, cheap to run and looks great for a 10-year-old car. It’s starting to feel its age on the inside though, and the back seats are cramped
Ford Fiesta (2012-2017): what would you like to read next?
If you’re after a small car, you’ve probably thought about a Ford Fiesta – and it’s still a fun, smart and reasonably practical car, despite the fact it’s getting on a bit. You can get the Fiesta in practical five-door form, or a sporty-looking three-door version, both of which are covered in this review. There’s also a fast version called the Fiesta ST, which will make you laugh out loud with its speed and sporty handling and is reviewed separately.
Unfortunately, the Fiesta’s interior hasn’t aged quite so well. The tiny infotainment screen and fiddly buttons fitted to basic models look dated and you won’t find them easy to use on the move. Entry-level Zetec and mid-spec ST-Line models don’t come with satellite navigation as standard and the upgraded infotainment system in Titanium and top-spec Titanium X models might look a little more modern, but it’s no easier to use and the screen is still microscopic.
A selection of scratchy, cheap-feeling plastics in the Fiesta’s cabin further let the side down. The dashboard feels soft and supple but the door trims, centre console and central armrest (standard on all but Zetec models) feel flimsy – though this isn’t uncommon among many cars this size.
Thankfully, the Fiesta’s driving position is excellent and a wide range of seat adjustment means you’ll be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. All-round visibility is good – helped by a pair of small extra windows above the door mirrors – and the Fiesta’s compact dimensions and light controls mean it’ll slip easily into even the tightest of parking spaces.
There isn’t nearly as much room in the back for tall adults as you’ll find the in Vauxhall Corsa but the Fiesta’s 290-litre boot is a little bit bigger than you’d get in a VW Polo – it’s just a shame there’s a large lip to heave objects over and no underfloor storage. All models get split-folding rear seats as standard and a couple of useful cubbyholes to stop rear-seat passengers drowning in clutter.
The Fiesta's going to be replaced in late 2017 by an all-new car with a more modern interior – I just hope it's as fun to drive as this version
If you regularly travel around town, go for the 99hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine – it’s smooth, quiet and can return as much as 65.7mpg. It might cost around £1,000 more than an entry-level 1.25-litre petrol model but it offers a far better blend of comfort, performance and running costs, and it’s available with a fast-shifting automatic gearbox. If you spend more time on the motorway than mooching through the city, you’d be better off with one of the economical 1.5-litre diesel engines
In terms of safety the Fiesta got a five-star Euro NCAP rating back in 2012, but it’s worth noting that the test is far stricter these days and you can’t have the Fiesta with automatic emergency braking – a Nissan Micra is a better bet if you’d like more modern safety kit.
Overall, the Fiesta’s an easy and surprisingly fun car to drive that does most jobs reasonably well – it’s just a bit old and more modern cars such as the Skoda Fabia have more space and more modern infotainment systems.
The Fiesta’s both comfortable and economical, especially with one of Ford’s brilliant EcoBoost petrol engines – but you’ll have to pay a premium to get one
The 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is a revelation – it feels way more powerful than you'd expect but doesn't clatter or rattle when you accelerate hard
You can get the Fiesta with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a five-speed manual or a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox.
The best engine on offer is the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol. It’s got more than enough punch to help you nip through city streets and can hold its own at motorway speeds without struggling to keep up with traffic.
It’s available in four guises, ranging from a 80hp model that’ll return a claimed 65.7mpg to a more powerful 140hp version – available on ST-Line models only – that’ll get up 62.8mpg. That’s a few miles per gallon more than you’ll get in an equivalent Vauxhall Corsa with a 1.0-litre engine but, in real-world driving, these results will be reversed.
The pick of the 1.0-litre bunch is the 100hp model – it can return the same impressive fuel economy as its 79hp sibling but, thanks to its performance-boosting turbocharger, feels much nippier to drive. It’s also the only 1.0-litre Fiesta that’s offered with an automatic gearbox.
Unfortunately these small 1.0-litre petrol engines do come with a fairly hefty price tag – even the most basic EcoBoost models will cost you around £1,000 more than a 1.25-litre petrol version – but it’s a price well-worth paying for the extra performance and economy. The 1.25 is really only suited to town driving – it’s slow, returns poor fuel economy and is more noisy than the 1.0-litre engine.
If you spend a lot of time on motorways and cover very high mileages, you should consider one of the Fiesta’s three 1.5-litre diesel engines. The cheapest of which – a 74hp model – will cost around £800 more than a mid-range petrol but it’ll return a claimed 78.5mpg.
A slightly more powerful 95hp model will sip just as little fuel while a high-tech ECOnetic version with its start/stop feature to save fuel in stationary traffic is claimed to eke out as much as 88.3mpg. It will, however, set you back nearly £900 more than the entry-level diesel model so you’ll have to cover quite a few miles for it to be worth the extra cash.
Pick a Fiesta with an automatic gearbox and it’ll help take the effort out of long trips and make bumper-to-bumper traffic jams that little bit more bearable. The automatic gearbox does, however, add around £1,400 to the price of petrol models and £300 to diesels. It shifts gears quickly, but can be jerky at manoeuvring speeds.
The Fiesta is a breeze to drive and offers both good visibility and a comfortable, easy-to-adjust driving position. Around town it feels nippy and is a doddle to navigate through tight streets or slip into small parking spaces – especially with the optional £425 parking sensors fitted (standard on Titanium X models).
Avoid sportier ST-Line versions with their firm lowered suspension and you’ll find the Fiesta deals with most bumps and potholes without sending any unpleasant jolts through the cabin. It feels equally stable on motorways, too, and can cruise comfortably without excessive wind noise or droning engine sounds – providing you pick a frugal diesel or a slick EcoBoost model and not the wheezy 1.25 petrol. Among the very few criticisms here is the rumbling noise that comes from the Fiesta’s tyres at motorway speeds is louder than in the VW Polo.
However, if you want a compact car that’s also fun, few small cars will put a smile on your face like a Fiesta will – the combination of strong grip, intuitive controls and the sporty driving position make it tempting to drive it quickly. On a more practical note, the Fiesta doesn’t lean too much when you go around corners either, so you’re not likely to make passengers feel car sick unless you’re being a total hooligan… which the dinky Ford does tend to encourage.
The Fiesta should be relatively safe too – it got a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, but that was in 2012 when the testing criteria were less strict than they are today. It doesn’t have any fancy safety tech such as the adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking you can get on a VW Polo.
The Fiesta has a fantastic driving position and the interior is full of handy storage bins, but it looks old fashioned and there’s barely any head or legroom in the back