Feature

Used Car of the Year 2014 - why the Ford Fiesta is our favourite small car

Every year What Car? uses a wealth of industry experience to pick the best used cars in various categories. This year the Ford Fiesta takes the title of best used small car, and here are the reasons why.

Words ByWhat Car? team

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The Fiesta is the benchmark for entertaining everyday motoring, both as a new and a used car. The pre-face-lifted car was built between 2008 and 2012, but the arrival of the refreshed model has compressed prices for the earlier car, making them a cracking used buy. A budget of Β£6000 is enough to get you behind the wheel, and at that money, our judges felt that there was nowhere finer to be.

The Fiesta is a very well-balanced small car that has sharp steering, a supple ride and simply brilliant handling. It easily demonstrates that high-level refinement is not strictly the preserve of larger, more expensive cars.

Front seat space is good, and plenty of head- and legroom make it easy to get comfortable. It’s not quite such good news in the back, where the rear seats have restricted legroom, but they are fine for children. The boot is a useful size, although the rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

The only real niggle with the interior is the confusing dashboard layout; its sea of small buttons is hard to distinguish between.
Go for the higher-powered 1.25-litre petrol engine; it bestows the featherweight Ford with enough performance to easily cope, both in and out of town.

In terms of running costs, the official economy figure is a fraction less than 50mpg for this 82bhp version, with a VED cost of Β£130 per year. The diesels in the range beat these figures, but you’d need to be racking up five-figure annual mileages to get back the price premium they demand over the petrol cars.

We’d recommend choosing a Zetec model because they combine a decent standard kit list, including alloys and traction control, with the lower sports suspension. All Fiestas are entertaining to drive and smooth out bumps well, but this set-up gives Zetec cars the edge for outright fun without ruining the ride quality.

According to warranty claims firm Warranty Direct, the Ford Fiesta is a pretty tough little car, with the Fiesta’s ubiquity, ease of repair and good level of standard safety equipment keeping insurance and maintenance costs low.

Buyers have little to find fault with when considering the Fiesta. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating is always welcome and Ford fares pretty well in terms of customer satisfaction, sitting in the middle of the pack for the 2014 JD Power satisfaction survey.

Fiestas are found for sale everywhere. Car supermarkets, franchised dealers and larger independents will all have plenty to choose from. This also means that as a buyer, you can afford to be fussy. If one example is a bit dog-eared, the wrong colour or the wrong specification, you can look elsewhere. Choose a good, clean example and you will own the best used supermini money can buy.

To read the full list of winners from the What Car? Used Car of the Year 2014 awards, click here.