Used Ford Fiesta long-term test review

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...

Used Ford Fiesta (17-present) long term test review

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 7546 List price new (2019) £19,695 Price new with options £22,445 Value now £12,639 Test economy 43.9mpg

20 July 2020 - the end of the Fiesta

This lockdown period has understandably kept us apart from friends and family, but to a lesser extent, it has kept me from my Fiesta because a colleague borrowed it on the day more extensive social distancing measures were announced. You’d think that for a motoring writer with a short attention span that this time apart would cause me to forget it, but far from it, I’ve remembered every detail. This, I feel, is the mark of a very good car.

Used Ford Fiesta fitting in with daily life

When it arrived back in January, my Desert Island blue Ford quickly fitted in and took things like the daily commute (remember when we had to do those every day?), shopping trips and general back-road hackery in its stride. I even managed to squeeze five adults into it to get to a pre-christmas party

But the forte of the Fiesta has been its fun to drive character no matter how mundane the journey is, and my used example was no exception. The sportier suspension fitted to ST-Line models gives it sharper dynamics that regular Zetec or Titanium versions. I never found it to be overly firm, either, and quite happily completed long trips in it without feeling fatigued. 

LT Ford Fiesta driving

In fact, I’ve driven this car farther than most of my vehicles, having covered well over 4000 miles in it and averaged a fuel economy figure of 43.9mpg. True, that is some 11.5% shy of the published official figure (a WLTP one, no less) of 49.6mpg, but I probably haven’t helped that since I made full use of the mid-range grunt of this 123bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost at every opportunity. 

Compared with the meager 74bhp of my first car, this Fiesta feels very nippy, and does make you question the need of the more powerful 138bhp version. And it’s due to get even better because the revised Fiesta is getting the same mild-hybrid technology to boost fuel economy that impressed us so much on the What Car? Car of the Year-winning Puma small SUV.

LT Ford Fiesta fancy rubber

I was even impressed to find high-performance tyres fitted as standard despite this Fiesta not being the hottest model. I know that this means replacements can be quite expensive, but I’d happily pay the extra for better quality tyres that provide tonnes of grip.

It hasn’t all been perfect, mind. In my first report I mentioned that I’d never owned a three-door car and had always preferred ones with more openings. Despite the greater visibility of the three-door model since there’s no roof pillar next to your head obstructing the over the shoulder view, the downside is that the door itself is much longer and can impede access in public car parks.

LT Ford Fiesta difficulties in getting out in tight parking spaces

As is being so ably demonstrated by Becky (who’s the aforementioned colleague that borrowed my car and is seen here making full use of her BTEC in performing arts), that if someone happens to park too close, you won’t be able to open the door quite as far as you can in the five-door, and you’ll need the dexterity of an olympic gymnast to slot yourself behind the wheel without bashing the car next to you. Maybe that’s why Ford created the deployable plastic edge protectors as fitted to my car.

I’d also like to shed light on the Fiesta’s headlights. Mine came with the standard halogen projectors and after being spoiled by the LED ones that came fitted to my previous Suzuki Swift, the performance of them is rather disappointing because they seem particularly bad at picking out obstacles when driving along streets in town in the dark.

LT Ford Fiesta halogen vs LED

However, these two gripes can easily be fixed by finding a used Fiesta with the optional LED headlights fitted and in five-door form. And if I were in the market, the Ford would get my money. With my What Car? hat on, I’d have to say that the Skoda Fabia still represents better value for money, and that both the current versions of the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo are more rounded and practical alternatives because they both have more rear passenger space and bigger boots. But, I value the driving experience above all else, which is why I’d plump for the blue oval. 

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