The Ford Fiesta has always been brilliant fun to drive. Until now, though, anyone wanting nippy acceleration had to either go for the hardcore 180bhp ST hot hatch, or make do with the lukewarm 123bhp 1.0-litre model.
The new Red Edition slots neatly into that void. Its tiny turbocharged engine pumps out 138bhp, which is enough for a respectable 0-62mph time of 9.0 seconds, making this special-edition Fiesta a rival for the latest Mini Cooper – as well as our favourite sub-£16k hot hatch, the Suzuki Swift Sport.
Don’t like the red and black colour scheme? Well, tough luck, although for an extra £500 you can have a red roof and a black body, instead. This is called (yes, you guessed it) the Black Edition.
What’s the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 140 Red Edition like to drive?
Based on the Zetec S, the Red Edition has stiffer suspension than other Fiestas (apart from the ST), along with retuned steering to help make it even more entertaining to drive.
This set-up is ideal for anyone who enjoys driving quickly, but that also wants a car that’s easy to live with on a daily basis. In fact, the Red strikes an almost perfect balance between the ST hot hatch (that’s great fun but very firm) and lesser models in the range, which are comfortable but lean noticeably through corners.
Find a country road and the Red is in its element, darting eagerly into bends and staying wonderfully balanced as you approach its limits of grip. This is an easy thing to do with confidence because the steering is accurate and streams information to your fingertips about what the front wheels are doing.
Our test route covered several sections of Ford’s proving ground in Lommel, Belgium, which included a stretch of Tarmac designed to mimic a battered British B-road. Even over this, the Red stayed remarkably composed – especially for something with hot hatch pretentions.
The new 138bhp engine is properly impressive, too. It’s incredibly smooth for a three-cylinder, and pulls strongly from 1700rpm, so you don’t need to thrash it to get anywhere in a hurry.
Even though a Mini Cooper and a Swift Sport will ultimately show the Fiesta a clean pair of treads in a straight drag race, the Red’s closely spaced gearing and willingness to rev make it great fun whether you’re just pottering around town or flying along a country road.
What’s the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 140 Red Edition like inside?
Much the same as any other Fiesta, which has both its positives and negatives.
The good news is the driving position is superb, with plenty of adjustment in the supportive seats and pedals that are thoughtfully spaced out and line up nicely with the steering wheel.
Less impressive are the flimsy air-con controls and the confusing infotainment system, which is littered with similar-looking buttons that make it tricky to use. The latest Mini Cooper certainly has a classier interior and more user-friendly control layout.
However, the Fiesta is more spacious than both the Mini and the rival Swift, with more space in the back and a much bigger boot.
The Red Edition gets the same basic kit as the Zetec S, which means air-conditioning, electric front windows, Bluetooth, front foglights and Ford’s Sync infotainment system all feature as standard. However, you do get larger (17-inch) alloys.
Should I buy one?
The Fiesta Red Edition is simply brilliant to drive. It’s more fun and more capable than both a Mini Cooper and a Swift Sport, thanks to its wonderfully balanced chassis and superb steering. There's no penalty in comfort either; on this evidence the Ford rides at least as well as its two key rivals.
The only problem is the price. Starting at £16,000, the Red costs around £2000 more than the Swift and £700 more than the Cooper. Yes, it should be available with healthy discounts pretty soon, but it’s still more expensive than it should be.
We’d be tempted find an extra £1200 for the even more engaging ST, or save £500 and enjoy even lower running costs and a lot more standard kit with the 1.0 125 Titanium.
What Car? says...
1.0 140 Ecoboost