Used Ford Fiesta long-term test review: report 1
The Ford Fiesta may be the most popular used car in the UK, but how does it cope with the rigours of life on the What Car? fleet? We have four months to find out...
The car 2019 Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost 125 ST-Line
Run by Max Adams, used cars reporter
Why it’s here To find out if this fun-to-drive small car can beat our favourite used buy, the Skoda Fabia
Needs to Prove its worth against other used small cars
Mileage 3326 List price new (2019) £19,695 Price new with options £22,445 Value now £13,000 Options fitted Upgraded audio system and navigation (£1000), metallic paint (£650), 18in alloy wheels (£600), City Pack (£400), retractable door edge protectors (£100) Test economy 42.9mpg Official economy 49.6mpg (WLTP)
10 January 2020 – Used Ford Fiesta joins our fleet
The topic of age often comes up for debate in the office, particularly in the past year, because both the social media manager and deputy editor turned 30. I’m fast approaching this milestone, too, leading me to reflect on things I haven’t done yet – such as eat a burger from McDonald's, run a marathon, or even owned a sporty three-door car.
Now, the first one doesn’t bother me, because it just means that the second goal is much more achievable. But I’ve never had a three-door car on the basis that I thought they were impractical. I mean, who wants to have to get out of their own car when it's raining in order to let someone behind you out? Over time, though, I've come to realise that this would only occasionally be a problem, so I've gone for this lightly used Ford Fiesta (the UK’s most popular used car) with a trinity of doors in order to find out what I've potentially been missing out on.
Not only that, but I’ve also gone for a Fiesta in more athletic ST-Line form, complete with more aggressive exterior styling and an interior adorned with sporting must-haves such as red stitching on the seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium pedals – just like the more powerful ST version.
Much like the high-performance model, my ST-Line has firmer sports suspension and alterations to the steering in order to make it feel sharper to drive. We’ve also gone for the mid-range 123bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol in order to make the most of those handling tweaks without costing me a fortune in fuel. The early indications are that it won’t be as economical as my previous mild hybrid Suzuki Swift, but an average so far of 42.9mpg seems reasonable.
Looking at our What Car? New Car deals page revealed that the list price of a similar example to mine would cost you £19,695. However, when you use our What Car? Valuation service, you find out that a 3300-mile Fiesta ST-Line like mine would be worth close to £13,000 at a main dealer. That’s a considerable saving on something that’s only six months old.
My car was fitted from new with £2750 worth of extras, the most expensive of which was the £1000, 10-speaker B&O premium audio system with FordPass Connect and a Sync 3 navigation system. The cheapest was a set of handy door edge protectors, which cover the leading edge of the door to prevent the Desert Island Blue metallic paint (£650) from being chipped for £100. My car was also treated to a very smart-looking set of 18in alloy wheels (£600) and a City Pack with reverse parking sensors and power-folding door mirrors for £400.
Either way, it makes this lightly used one a bit of a bargain, so you can understand why it is perhaps the nation’s favourite second-hand car. However, it hasn’t been the top pick for What Car? since this generation arrived in 2017. Instead, we prefer the likes of the Seat Ibiza, Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia. So, why is that?
I suspect it’s because the Fiesta is no longer the most practical small car around. All three of the aforementioned rivals are pretty nice to drive yet have bigger boots and more rear seat space.
The thing is, I rarely fill up the boot or carry passengers; my priority is whether it's fun to drive. The Fiesta is widely regarded as the best-handling small car around, and it certainly does improve my mood after completing a journey in it. It also – joy of joys – has a six-speed manual gearbox and better sound insulation to make it a quieter motorway cruiser than the Swift was. Plus, that upgraded stereo has little trouble drowning out background noise.
Over the coming months, I'll be finding out what life is like with this most popular of used car choices while I subject it to my usual daily commute of motorways and town traffic, as well as occasional jaunts up to the Yorkshire Dales when visiting family. I’ll also be considering whether my aversion to three-door cars is misplaced as I cross off one of those ‘haven’t done’ points from my list. Now I must decide which of the other points I should tick off next…