2013 Ford Fiesta review

* Updated Fiesta supermini driven * Focus on increased safety and economy * On sale January, priced from 9795...

2013 Ford Fiesta review

The Ford Fiesta is already Britains best-selling car, but Ford has no intention of resting on its laurels as it introduces a raft of upgrades for 2013.

Visually, enhancements include a prominent new trapezoid grille, reprofiled rear lights and upgraded interior trims. Mechanical changes include the introduction of a new three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine in various states of tune.

However, an equal amount of emphasis has been placed on improving the Fiesta's safety credentials. Ford has even chosen to resubmit the Fiesta to Euro NCAP, in an effort to improve its crash-test rating which is unusual for a mid-life face-lift.

Additionally, Active City stop, which helps reduce the impact of low-speed collisions by applying the brakes if it detects that a crash is imminent, will also be offered as an option.

Conscious that the Fiesta attracts a lot of younger drivers, and in order to give parents a little more peace of mind, Ford will offer it with a programmable ignition key. This can be used to control parameters such as limiting the top speed of the vehicle, muting the audio system until the seatbelts are fastened and preventing the stability control system from being disabled.

The 2013 Fiesta is still the sweetest-handling supermini that money can buy

Whats the 2013 Ford Fiesta like to drive?
The big news for the 2013 Fiesta is the arrival of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine. In turbocharged guise (a 79bhp non-turbo version is also available) it produces either 99bhp or 123bhp.

The 2013 Fiesta gets a mid-life face-lift and new efficient engines

We tried the 123bhp version. Its certainly an acquired taste, because the distinctive three-cylinder thrum this engine emits is impossible to ignore.

That said, our experience of the three-cylinder engines in other Fords has indicated that they become smoother and less intrusive as the miles mount.

Theres no denying that its a strong engine, however. It delivers diesel-like torque from as little as 2000rpm, and builds speed and revs with impressive gusto. Once settled at a cruise, it blends seamlessly into the background.

Less impressive, though, is that our experience also suggests that these engines struggle to achieve the economy figures that Ford claims are possible the lower-powered of the two turbo engines has an official average economy figure of 66mpg. We look forward to our real-world MPG testers putting it through its paces when we get the car in the UK.

We also drove the 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine. Its quite a clattery engine at tickover and generates a pronounced drone as the revs pass 2000rpm. Whats more, it's linked to a five-speed gearbox in which fifth is relatively low, so has to work hard at motorway speeds, increasing the noise.

Even so, Ford claims this version of the Fiesta will average 78mpg, so its sure to be of interest to company car drivers.

Ford claims the new engines will offer up to 78mpg

Regardless of power choice, the Fiesta is an incredibly agile car. With crisp, accurate steering and taut body control, the Fiesta changes direction with an immediacy that many sports cars would be proud of.

Combine this with minimal roll in corners and plenty of confidence-inspiring grip, and you soon realise that the Fiesta is the sweetest-handling supermini money can buy.

The price you pay for this control is quite a noisy ride. Despite Ford adding higher-profile tyres for 2013 cars to enhance comfort, road noise still filters through the suspension and into the cabin.

That said, just as looks can be deceiving, so can sounds. Drive over a poor section of road and you will hear every nuance, but very little vibration finds its way into the cabin.

The three-cylinder engines can be noisy, but are quiet when cruising

Whats more, because the Fiestas suspension is so well resolved, one bump equates to one thud, without the hint of any aftershock. As a result, the Fiesta is actually a more comfortable car than you might initially give it credit for.

Fords commitment to engineering precision is evident throughout the Fiesta. While all the pedals are consistently weighted, the brakes are strong and supply plenty of feel to let you scrub off speed accurately. Equally, the gearshift is slick and supremely accurate.

Whats the 2012 Ford Fiesta like inside?
The Fiestas driving position is absolutely perfect, thanks to two-way steering wheel adjustment, a decent amount of seat adjustment and a well-designed pedal box. All-round visibility is generally good, too, but the windscreen wipers, especially on the front passenger side, leave large swathes of the windscreen unswept.

Up top, the materials used on the dashboard are pretty cushy, while new finishes for 2013 add some extra gloss to the contemporary design.

Functionality could be better, however, with too many small buttons and a rather complex scrolling process required to access the car's minor functions. Equally, look below the eyeline gloss, or venture into the rear of the cabin, and things arent quite as impressive because many of the plastics look and feel quite cheap.

New finishes for 2013 add some extra gloss to the contemporary dashboard design

Rear legroom is on the tight side for adults. There is a decent boot, however, and you can flip the rear seatbacks forwards when you want to carry longer loads. Unfortunately, the rear seatbase is fixed, so the seatbacks lie at a pronounced angle when they're folded down.

Should I buy one?
The Fiesta isnt the cheapest supermini, nor is it the biggest or most refined. However, its still the benchmark for driving dynamics in the supermini class, and is now more desirable than ever thanks to its fresh new look and efficient engines.

When you also consider that Ford dealers are willing to offer big discounts, the Fiesta is still tough to beat as a consummate all-rounder.

Read the full Ford Fiesta review >>

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Pete Tullin