What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - Superminis

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  • 16 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2009 revealed
What we were looking for: A car to put a smile on your face, but not a dent in your wallet. Our winner will be good to drive, affordable and feel like it costs more than it does

The contenders
Best buy under £8000
Fiat 500 1.2 Pop
List price £7930
Target Price £7930
Best web price £7786 (www.uknewcars.com)

Best buy £8000 – £10,000
Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort 5dr
List price £9645
Target Price £9645
Best web price £8755 (www.hyundai.co.uk)

Best buy over £10,000
Ford Fiesta 1.25i 82 Zetec 5dr
List price £11,352
Target Price £10,225
Best web price £10,349 (www.carfile.net)

The winner is...
Ford Fiesta 1.25i 82 Zetec 5dr
List price £11,352
Target Price £10,225

The name is more than 30 years old, but the latest Fiesta is bang up to date. It's everything that a modern supermini should be — and more.

We've come to expect more and more from superminis over the past few years, but nothing has surpassed our expectations quite like the brilliant new Fiesta. Some rivals excel in one or two areas, but the Fiesta is exceptional in just about every single one.

Small car kicks
Even if you expect a small car to be fun, you'll still be surprised by just how enjoyable the Fiesta is to drive. It combines the kart-like feel of a supermini with the composure of a bigger car and, however long or short the journey, the Fiesta's smooth controls make it an easy-going companion. The steering, gearshift and clutch are all precise and perfectly weighted, which ensures effortless progress whether you're trundling through town, blatting down a B-road or cruising the motorway.

The Fiesta's controlled ride helps towards its phenomenal composure. It's firm enough to feel settled over bigger bumps and through bends, yet it flows smoothly over potholes and patchy urban roads.

Our favourite engine — the 81bhp 1.25i – is a gem. It revs sweetly and gives sprightly pace, but it's also easy on the ear, which adds to the Fiesta's class-leading refinement. No rival has a cabin this quiet and civilised.

Big in style
The Fiesta's interior is as sharply styled as its exterior, with a neat centre console that was apparently inspired by the design of mobile phones. Fortunately, it's as easy to use as the best mobiles. The supportive seats and excellent driving position help you to feel at home, too. Plush plastics and smart metallic inserts add to the feelgood factor, and although some of the materials are more functional than funky, everything feels built to last.

There's space for the tallest driver to stretch out, too. Although the Fiesta can't match the biggest cars in this class for rear legroom, there's enough, and the boot is large and well shaped.

Pick of the range
Most buyers will go for Zetec trim, and we reckon it's the pick of the bunch. Features such as alloy wheels, chrome details, front foglamps and a leather-trimmed steering wheel make the Fiesta look a million dollars. All the sensible stuff — air-conditioning, heated windscreen, electric front windows, five airbags and an input socket for your MP3 player — is present and correct.

Shop cleverly and you'll pay just over £10,000 for our chosen model. That's a snip. Average fuel economy of almost 50mpg and a group four insurance rating help to ensure that long-term costs will be similarly affordable.

Click image above to enlarge

What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - Small family car


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