Ford offers nine engines – six petrols and three diesels – but the 99bhp Ecoboost petrol is the pick of the range. It pulls strongly from low revs and revs smoothly and eagerly. In fact, it’s so strong that there’s little point in upgrading to the 123bhp Ecoboost. The 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is less impressive; there’s a shortage of low-down torque, so you have to rev it quite hard.
The Fiesta changes direction with an immediacy that many an exotic sports car would be proud of. Factor in minimal roll in corners and plenty of confidence-inspiring grip, and you don’t have to drive very far to realise that the Fiesta is the sweetest handling supermini you can buy. It also rides more smoothly than most supermini rivals.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine sounds quite clattery, and the Ecoboost petrols thrum a bit when you put your foot down, but otherwise there’s little to disturb the peace, aside from a bit of suspension noise over patched-up surfaces. The pedals are consistently weighted, too, while the gearshift is slick and supremely accurate.
The Fiesta is easy on fuel, cheap to insure and massive discounts are available. It doesn’t have the strongest resale values in the class, but if you buy it at the right price, you shouldn’t lose too much cash come resale time.
Ford has put plenty of effort into making the Fiesta’s interior as distinctive as its exterior, and most of the materials on the dash are deceptively plush. However, most models get black plastic door pulls that look and feel cheap, while the plastics lower down the dashboard, and on the rear door panels, have a low-rent feel. Ford has a good record in our reliability surveys, though, and the Fiesta rated pretty well in this respect in the 2012 JD Power survey.
All Fiestas come with stability control and seven airbags, including full-length curtain ’bags and a driver’s knee ’bag. The car also received the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Deadlocks and a visible vehicle identification number make life difficult for thieves.
The big-car refinement of the Fiesta is matched by big-car comforts in the front of the cabin. There's loads of seat travel, plenty of support for your back, and two-way steering adjustment so that most people can find the ideal driving position. The funky, mobile phone-inspired dashboard works pretty well, too, although the on-screen menus that need scrolling through to access minor functions could be more intuitive.
The Fiesta is roomier than many of its rivals, so most people will have plenty of space in the back. There’s a decent boot, too, but when you want to enlarge it, the rear-seat backrests merely flop onto the bases, leaving a step in the floor.
Ford offers six main trims, plus the Econetic (high economy) and Zetec S (sporty) models. Studio cars are pretty spartan, but Edge adds air-con, remote locking and front electric windows. Zetec cars feature sporty styling and alloys, while the Titanium and Titanium X models give a luxury feel. The 1.4 petrol is the only version that can be specced with an automatic gearbox – and it's pricey.
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The Fiesta is a sensational supermini. It’s well specified, competitively priced and this 99bhp three-cylinder model delivers plenty of performance. Zetec trim gives you air-con, remote locking and front electric windows and alloys.