Ford Fiesta Review
The UK’s best-selling car is also, coincidentally, one of the best new cars you can buy. We can’t recommend it enough.
- Brilliant drive
- Ford dependability
- Ford practicality
- You won’t stand out
- Non-turbo petrol engines a bit weak
- It can be a bit expensive once spec-matched with rivals
The Ford Fiesta is, month after month, Britain’s best selling car by a huge margin. No rival can touch it as the supermini continues to draw tens of thousands of people to Ford’s vast dealer network each month. So it must be doing something right? Well, it hasn’t always been guaranteed that our favourite cars are also the best – but in this case, it is…
The Ford Fiesta is a class act, the most talented supermini on sale that can serve as a great family runaround, the perfect first car, an ace car for downsizers or a tremendous hot hatch: like the original Mini, it’s a do-anything car, and it does it all with aplomb. Read on to find out why it’s so great…
On the Road
Ford offers a broad range of engines with the Fiesta; the best ones are the Ecoboost turbo petrols. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost is an absolute gem, with easygoing performance, great pulling power and refinement way beyond what’s the norm for this class of car. It’s well worth the extra spend over Ford’s basic 1.25-litre non-turbo petrol.
Because the 1.0-litre has such a broad range of power outputs, Ford doesn’t need to offer a 1.4-litre engine anymore; those after more poke thus select either from the 1.6-litre petrol Powershift or the 1.5-litre TDCi turbodiesel. The latter delivers exceptional economy figures in Econetic guise and, again, offers plenty of poke – although it’s not as smooth as the Ecoboost 1.0-litre.
The performance choice is the brilliant 182hp 1.6-litre turbo in the Fiesta ST. This is an exceptional engine, with drive throughout the rev range and a really effervescent, sporty feel. Rivals may have a bit more power but none can match the Fiesta’s enthusiasm. Like all Fiestas, it also has a wonderful manual gearbox and a light, easy clutch.
Again, the Fiesta is a class act, with an unbeatable blend of handling and ride quality. The poise and precision it offers through corners is the real draw, with dynamics that outpoint many a purist sportscar. Steering feel is confident and the Fiesta flows through corners with uncommon ease and pleasing satisfaction. It’s not unlike the original Mini here, either.
The Fiesta ST ramps this up a further notch; it’s by far the best car in its class to drive, and you could sit it in a garage next to a Porsche or Lotus and not feel short-changed. Nothing in this sector can match the feel and quality of its drive.
One thing the ST doesn’t do quite as well is ride the bumps all that smoothly. It’s not harsh and crashy, but is undeniably firm – some may even find it over-stiff, and there’s no denying it’s a bit fidgety at times. The regular Fiesta is better here, and all models have great body control, but it isn’t quite the smoothest-running model in its sector. Overall, though, it’s the best to drive.
If you want the best engine refinement from a Fiesta, choose the 1.0-litre Ecoboost. We promise you, you’ll be amazed at how refined it can be, particularly if you change gear early and let the turbo's pull do the work. At speed, it fades into the background to become virtually inaudible.
More generally, the Fiesta isn’t bad for refinement. It’s now not the newest car in its class, so there is a bit more road noise and wind rustle than in cars such as the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia, but it’s still far from raucous – even the ST, with its rorty exhaust and wide tyres, remains bearable on a motorway. You’ve nothing to fear here if you’re downsizing from a larger, more refined car.
In the car
The Ford Fiesta’s fresh, crisp exterior styling still looks young and sharp – but the interior is showing more signs of age. The basic architecture is distinctive, with a really feel-good steering wheel and pod-like dials, while the stereo is mounted high and the heater controls are set down low.
That’s part of the problem though: the stereo is extraordinarily complicated and fiddly to use, particularly if you go for one of the pricier upgrade systems. The menus are illogical and even simple tasks such as switching between DAB radio stations are way more difficult than they should be. Many will find this very frustrating.
The heater controls are also a little out of reach and the non-climate-control manual rotary dials can be stiff to turn. Saying all that, other controls are logical, the driving position is absolutely perfect and Ford’s seats feel like they’ve ben taken from a class or two above.
The Fiesta is not cramped, but it’s never been the biggest in its sector and now super-sized superminis such as the latest Skoda Fabia are starting to highlight its weaknesses.
Those in the front probably won’t be aware of any issue, because of the well-engineered driving position and those excellent seats. Those in the back are a little worse off though, especially if they have to squeeze past the front seats in the three-door version. It’s easier in the five-door, but it still feels tight in the back there.
The boot also isn’t the greatest. At 290 litres, it’s average-sized for a supermini – not obviously lacking in capacity but now a little way behind cars such as that Fabia. Other similarly sized cars are more practical too, with less of a lip to load items over and a more suitcase-friendly shape. It’s passable, but others have passed it.
Fords are among the most dependable cars on the road. They may not quite top reliability surveys but factor in the cost of repairs from this dependable brand and running costs should carry no nasty surprises.
There’s further benefit from being the nation’s best selling car, such as a vast dealer network, really competitive servicing prices and a ready used market more than willing to take it off your hands.
Economy, too, is good. The 1.0-litre may not deliver the headline-grabbing figure you expect, but it’s still fuel-efficient and will respond well to gentle driving if you do want to chase economy. Even the Fiesta ST is cheap to run if you don’t burn through many consumables such as tyres; our experience with the engine again shows it to be exceedingly fuel-efficient if you want it to be.
You’ll get more surface quality in a Volkswagen Polo, and both exterior and interior will feel that bit more special and premium. The Fiesta isn’t lacking any deep-down quality though, as proven by its impressive dependability record. You’re unlikely to have any major issues with it and a proven production record means issues with reliability will have been ironed out long ago.
The real quality of the Fiesta comes in driving it: do this and you’ll feel it’s a premium executive car, with the same engineering as a BMW. It gives you great confidence, the Fiesta, and with this comes a sense it’ll last a good long time as well.
The Ford Fiesta, in common with many rivals in the supermini class, has a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score. Ford offers active safety equipment too, and protects all this from thieves with well-regarded security features.