Way, way back in the dark, coal-burning pre-internet days of the Twentieth Century when we purchased cars from local dealers or out of the newspaper small ads, the Ford Motor Company introduced a vehicle to get into the burgeoning small car market that followed the 1973 fuel crisis. It was revealed in 1975 as the Ford Fiesta and from 1976 began to sell like hot cakes. Many versions on, it still does.
Ford Fiesta: The Same As Before Only Better
The latest model (pictured) isn’t that different from it’s predecessor, a little sharper by design perhaps and certainly a tad bigger. It is right on trend with current supermini thinking and looks very smart. It continues to be the most popular car in this sector but now has its work cut out as other car makers shape up for a fight.
Coming up on the rails are several contenders for the supermini stakes. The SEAT Ibiza is great, the Skoda Fabia offers good value and the new Nissan Micra (here) is a force to be reckoned with. With this latest model the company needed to be at the top of their game and right now the Ford Fiesta hatchback remains the best selling supermini in the UK.
As usual you can buy different trim levels depending upon budget, starting with ‘Style’ and followed by ‘Zetec’, ‘Titanium’ and the posh ‘Vignale’. The vehicle seen here is in Zetec trim yet is well equipped with safety features and kit as you can see from the full specification below.
Our test car also had an option bundle which added about £1500 to the price but delivered a very complete package. At a total of £18230 though, it seems to me to be getting a bit on the pricey side. There’s a sporty ST version coming in 2018.
The Power Of The Ford Fiesta
In the engine department there is something for everyone. The star motor though is Ford’s tried and tested Ecoboost 1.0L three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. My goodness it’s good. Maybe not the most fuel-efficient choice but it delivers on so many levels that I’ll forgive it that.
This diminutive motor comes in three power levels: 98bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp. Our press vehicle had the 98bhp version driving through a crisp six-speed automatic gearbox and, although not officially quick on paper, proved through the gears to be lively and responsive and able to hold its own at motorway speeds. It has to be assumed that the more powerful versions will do the same thing with even more gusto. If your motoring is typical of most of us than this is the engine you want. In 2018 it will get better still when this engine will feature cylinder deactivation.
If you must be awkward and choose something else then there’s a new entry level naturally aspirated 1.1-litre three-cylinder with either a breathless 69bhp or 84bhp. Additionally, the Ford Fiesta has a couple of diesels available; a 118bhp and a rather puny 84bhp diesel which, while being economical and offering low emissions, will not set your pants on fire.
Inside The Ford Fiesta
This is the area that has seen the most change. Gone is that clunky old button-heavy dash from before, replaced by a much smarter and very well designed new layout that features (optionally) a 6.5” touchscreen set bolt upright in the centre (see image).
Everyone who travelled in the car found this to be an excellent feature. Personally, I didn’t care for it much. To me it seemed as if it was a last minute addition. That said, the display (No navigation included on this screen sadly. For that buyers must upgrade to the 8” touchscreen) is very clear and with the addition of steering wheel buttons, proved very simple in use.
Features included DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for those who love the new technology. For me, there was an optional CD player secreted in the glove box so my ancient and dated CD collection got a decent workout.
There’s more leg room both front and back and the seats are comfortable although it is still a bit tight in the back for big ‘uns. The boot isn’t huge and is beaten for space elsewhere. As ever at this price point, it is possible to find fault with some of the cabin plastics but it is no worse than many others in that respect.
Driving The Ford Fiesta
With increased dimensions and a slightly widened track agility is right up there with the best. Every new Ford Fiesta range gets a revised suspension setup and more advanced dampers boosting cornering and handling. Light to park and fun to drive the ride is supple and confidence inspiring.
Although the case for the Fiesta isn’t as clear cut as it once was, I’d still shade it as the best bet in the race for the small hatchback title. Geoff Maxted