Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta review

Driving
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In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Ford Fiesta hatchback performance

The entry-level 1.1-litre petrol engine has just 69bhp, although there’s a stronger version with a more respectable 84bhp. We haven’t tried the entry-level one, but the 84bhp unit does feel a bit gutless on faster roads, so it’s certainly worth opting for the pokier turbocharged Ecoboost engines.

These come in a variety of power outputs, starting with the 99bhp 1.0 Ecoboost. This a great engine that is peppy around town and comfortable on longer motorway trips. The sweet spot, though, is the 123bhp version that offers a step up in pace (without much additional cost), while the 138bhp version pulls eagerly from low revs yet loves to be revved beyond 6000rpm. For the lowdown on the sportiest Fiesta ST model, read our dedicated review here.

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There are two 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engines available, but you’ll have to do a seriously high mileage to justify their significantly higher purchase price. For most people, the decently frugal Ecoboost units will make more financial sense.

Ford Fiesta hatchback ride

One of the most appealing things about the Fiesta is that it combines small car fun with big car sophistication, and that’s true of the way it rides. Steer clear of the larger optional alloy wheels and the Fiesta deals brilliantly with the sort of nasty sharp-edged bumps and potholes that are all too common on British backroads.

True, the Seat Ibiza smooths over smaller imperfections slightly more adroitly, but otherwise the Fiesta is more comfortable than every other rival in the small car class. ST-Line models have firmer sports suspension, so you feel more of the bumps as they pass beneath the car. However, the ride is still extremely well controlled, so you won't bounce up and down wildly over undulations taken at speed.

If you opt for an Active model, you’ll benefit from a subtly softer ride, thanks to a higher ride height and tweaked suspension set-up that enable the car to cope even better than the standard Fiesta with sharp jolts.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta hatchback handling

The Fiesta is a humble hatchback that’s as fun to drive as some sports cars, thanks to its sharp handling and precise, well-weighted steering. Keen drivers will love its responsive, composed nature on demanding roads, but it’s the Fiesta’s ability to put a smile on your face on even the most mundane journey that’s so endearing.

Put simply, the Fiesta is the best-handling small car on the market and actually outshines many cars from the class above. Mind you, the Ibiza comes jolly close to being the Fiesta’s equal, even though it isn’t quite as nimble.

ST-Line versions receive sports suspension with a lower ride height. This makes the Fiesta even more agile and grippy; this is great if you want hot hatch handling without the bigger bills that a powerful engine brings. If you do want the full-fat hot hatchabck experience, you can read all about the Fiesta ST by clicking here.

Active versions, meanwhile, have a slightly blunter dynamic edge compared with other Fiestas. The car’s body rolls a tad more in corners and generally doesn’t feel quite so well tied down through fast, twisty bends – although the difference is only slight. The increased ride height does, however, mean the Active model gets 18mm extra ground clearance over standard Fiestas – this is helpful if you happen to live down the end of a rutted track or have to occasionally traverse rocky ground.

A further addition to Active is the choice of three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Slippery. The first two settings are fairly self-explanatory, while Slippery mode adjusts the traction control to help when you're driving on lower-grip surfaces, such as snow or mud.

Ford Fiesta hatchback refinement

The 1.0 Ecoboost engine is remarkably smooth and quiet for a three-cylinder unit. Accelerate hard and you feel and hear less of a buzz than you do in rivals with equivalent engines, such as the Ibiza and Skoda Fabia.

There's some road noise, particularly on versions with larger alloy wheels, but not enough to really irritate. However, there is a little bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, especially in models fitted with a panoramic glass roof.

Meanwhile, the Fiesta’s accelerator, brake and clutch pedals are all positively weighted, making it a really easy car to drive smoothly. The six-speed manual gearbox fitted to most versions is also very precise – if not quite as slick as that in the rival Ibiza – while the five-speed 'box in 1.1-litre models is just as enjoyable to use.

 

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Trims
There are 14 trims available for the Fiesta hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
Style
Entry-level Style trim is best avoided; you have to make do with steel wheels and the s...View trim
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Zetec
Zetec is one rung up the ladder from entry-level Style and brings alloy wheels, a heate...View trim
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Zetec B+O Play
Based on our favourite Zetec trim, but adds sat-nav and a punchy Bang & Olufsen sound s...View trim
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ST-Line
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Titanium
Titanium trim is worth a look, adding cruise control, power-folding door mirrors, keyle...View trim
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Active 1
Based on Zetec trim, Active 1 gets LED lights, 17in alloy wheels, automatic lights and...View trim
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Titanium B+O Play
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Titanium X
A bit too pricey to recommend. Titanium X is well equipped, with keyless entry, part-le...View trim
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ST-Line X
Based on ST-Line trim but adds loads more kit, including sat-nav, climate control, powe...View trim
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Active B+O Play
Gets the same equipment as Active 1 but – as you’d guess – benefits from an upgraded Ba...View trim
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ST-1
Standard equipment isn’t stingy, with 17in alloy wheels, Recaro sports seats, air-con...View trim
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Active X
Active X is the range-topping Active model and gets a part-leather interior with heated...View trim
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ST-2
Step up to ST-2 and you get an upgraded B&O Play 10-speaker sound system, plus climate...View trim
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ST-3
ST-3 adds 18in alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, power-folding door mirror...View trim
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