Countless cars will be launched in 2017, but none are more important than this: the all-new Ford Fiesta.
It’s particularly good to drive, combining sharp handling and beautifully weighted controls with a supple and controlled ride. However, some of its rivals, such as the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20, offer more practical and appealing interiors, so it’s these areas that Ford has concentrated on improving for the new Fiesta.
What is the 2017 Ford Fiesta like inside?
While the new Fiesta isn’t much bigger on the outside than the model it replaces, the dashboard has been reshaped to free up more interior space, so four adults can fit inside comfortably enough.
The dash also feels much classier than before, with materials that are a match for those in the Volkswagen Polo. And it's a lot easier to use, because Ford has replaced the button-heavy layout of the old car with a slick touchscreen (6.5in on cheaper versions and 8.0in on higher specification models) that sits high up so you can always keep half an eye on the road.
In addition, this new screen lets you use the sort of pinch and swipe gestures used on a smartphone. Or alternatively, you can operate the infotainment system using simple, conversational voice commands (although this is likely to be a cost option on most Fiestas).
There are still more practical superminis, because the Fiesta's rear seats just flop down onto the bases when you fold them, leaving a big step in the extended load area, and there’s no adjustable boot floor to level it out.
However, while many rivals no longer offer sportier-looking three-door models, the Fiesta will continue to be sold in both three-door and five-door forms.
Why does the 2017 Ford Fiesta look so similar to the current car?
According to designer Ernst Reim, Ford had some radical proposals for the styling of the new Fiesta , but it ultimately decided that an evolutionary approach made more sense given the continuing popularity of the current model.
Sure enough, the new car is instantly recognisable as a Fiesta, although it does have a broader front grille and slimmer headlights, along with horizontal rather than vertical tail-lights. This is all designed to make the Fiesta appear wider and more sophisticated.
What engines will the 2017 Ford Fiesta be available with?
The engine range will consist of small, frugal units, including an upgraded version of our current favourite, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost, and a new 1.1-litre petrol, available with 69bhp or 84bhp.
In its most efficient form, this new 1.1-litre is expected to emit just 98g/km of CO2, although the 1.5-litre diesel will remain the cleanest engine in the range, with emissions of around 82g/km.
Buyers wanting hot hatch levels of performance will have to wait until 2018, when the new Fiesta ST, which gives the car a much more aggressive appearance, along with sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports suspension.
How much will the 2017 Ford Fiesta cost?
No budget models will be offered, because Ford wants to leave room below the Fiesta for the smaller Ka+, which it introduced earlier this year.
The range kicks off with Style specification, which costs from £12,715 - which is £1080 less than today's car. Elsewhere, the trim levels are the same as today, moving through Zetec and Titanium levels to the high-end Fiesta Vignale and Fiesta ST. Those latter models will be available from the summer.
Among the new car's features are automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection - although Ford hasn't revealed if this will be standard - as well as automatic parking and rear cross traffic alert, which can apply the car's brakes to avoid reversing into moving traffic.
The best-selling Zetec models - which 58% of buyers will go for - start from £14,215 and come with 15in alloy wheels, Quickclear heated windscreen and Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system running on a 6.5in touchscreen.
Ford is also adding a new B&O Play version of the Fiesta to its range, which can be had on Zetec and Titanium models. Priced from £15,165, these cars get a subwoofer in the boot, a more advanced stereo, an 8.0in touchscreen and navigation as standard.
The upscale Fiesta Vignale will be priced from £19,345, and gets 17in alloys, unique bodywork, a new front grille, heated leather seats and steering wheel, a panoramic glass roof and a rear view camera.
With its new entry price, the Fiesta will be competitive against rivals including the VW Polo, which starts at just under £13,000 and the Vauxhall Corsa, which is closer to £12,000.
There will also be a new Active variant (above) that’s said to combine rugged SUV looks with hatchback practicality and true Fiesta driving dynamics.
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here