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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Great comfort and handling; lively engines

Against Rear seat space could be better

Verdict Britain’s favourite supermini back in its day, and it's easy to see why

Go for… 1.25 LX 5dr

Avoid… 1.8 D Encore 5dr

Ford Fiesta Hatchback
  • 1. Check brakes thoroughly on a trest drive as they can wear quickly
  • 2. Damage to the suspension accounts for almost half of the faults reported to Warranty Direct
  • 3. The Fiesta is brilliant fun to drive on any type of road
  • 4. The boot is a generous size for a supermini
  • 5. The 1.25-litre petrol engine is our pick from the various units available
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Ford Fiesta Hatchback full review with expert trade views

In this generation of Fiesta, Ford captured everything that was great about a supermini. It was, and still is, brilliant fun to drive on any type of road. And remember, this is where the amazing Puma coupe took its chassis from.

The 1.25-litre engine fights way above its weight, the 1.4 is another keen engine, while the 101bhp 1.6 in the Zetec S has just enough power for this warm hatch to be smile-a-minute fun. The non-turbo 1.8 diesel is sluggish, while the 1.8 turbodiesel delivers fine economy

The interior is simple, and Ford has a wonderful knack of placing all the controls just where they should be. The driving position, too, is excellent; all round vision is good and all of the controls are light and precise. It’s a little cramped in the back, but the boot is a generous size.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Still popular for those on a budget, base models struggle - needs to be Zetec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

You can’t really go too far wrong with any of the Fiestas, although it’s best to avoid the 1.3-litre petrol and non-turbo 1.8 diesel. It’s also wise to steer clear of the basic Encore models.

For us, the best model is the 1.25 LX 5dr because it’s superb fun to drive and has excellent fuel economy. The five-door body allows better access to the rear seats, although if you need to carry adults regularly it might be wise to look for a Focus instead of a Fiesta.

Those looking for more excitement will love the Zetec S, which has unique alloy wheels, sporty seats and body kit. It also came with traction control and anti-lock brakes as standard.

The non-turbo 1.8 diesel was superseded by the 75bhp 1.8 turbodiesel in early 2000, bringing greater refinement and much improved economy, but it's still no match for that cracking 1.25.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Great reliability. Low failure rates and low repair bills, but watch suspension

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The Fiesta is one of the cheapest cars to run, thanks to fuel economy that ranges from good to downright superb. And, all of the engines are tough, too, so don’t expect to shell out a fortune to keep them ticking along as they should.

Ford main dealer service departments are pretty cheap, but an independent garage will keep the costs down further and, because of the Fiesta’s mechanical simplicity, any good mechanic will carry out a sound job. Parts and replacement tyres are not expensive either.

Insurance is unlikely to break the bank, even if you live in a high-risk area, unless you are young and have just passed your test. Even so, the Fiesta is one of the most affordable first cars, thanks to its excellent record for security compared with rivals’.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Still popular for those on a budget, base models struggle - needs to be Zetec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Basically, the Fiesta's pretty sound. But, there’s a good chance that your potential buy will have been a newly qualified driver’s first car, so it pays to have a close look at the state of the wheel rims and tyres.

Damage to the suspension accounts for almost half of the reported faults mentioned by Warranty Direct, and things aren't helped by many Fiestas spending their lives in and around town. The brakes are the only other thing to check closely as they can wear quickly. But, faults with either of these will soon show up on a decent test drive.

On top of that, look for a car that has been serviced either at the correct mileage or at least once a year if it has covered fewer miles. This is a good sign of a caring owner.

Other than that, the rest of the car is remarkably tough, and owners find the Fiesta just keeps on going.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Great reliability. Low failure rates and low repair bills, but watch suspension

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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