Expert Reviews

First Drive: Ford Fiesta

Monday 03 July 2017

First Drive: Ford Fiesta
Summary

Could this be one of the most crucial cars to be released in 2017? If you look at the Fiesta’s popularity – it’s been the best-selling car in Britain since 2009 – then it’s easy to see just how important this car, not only to Ford but for the UK market in general.

However, the Fiesta’s position is more under threat than ever before. Rivals such as the Audi A1 and DS 3 are becoming key names in the segment, making the Fiesta’s fight to the top more difficult than ever. In response, Ford has made this Fiesta more premium-centred than ever before.

Looks & Image

At the heart of the Fiesta’s character has been the way it drives, offering a keenness and level of driver involvement that you just don’t expect from a supermini. Pick the ST-Line specification – fitted with lower suspension and tuned power steering – and you’ll quickly realise that the Fiesta’s character hasn’t been watered down at all. 

Other trims – from Style to Vignale – get softer suspension settings, ideal for those who want a little more comfort from their compact hatch. Interior quality has also been given an overhaul, with soft-touch plastics used throughout the cabin. Top-spec Vignale cars also benefit from a leather-trimmed dashboard, too. 

Space & Practicality

The Fiesta has been beefed-up over the old car, which means – according to Ford – 16mm more knee room for those sat in the back. The glovebox is also 20 per cent larger, while the boot has increased to 303 litres of the previous car’s 290. That puts it ahead of the Nissan Micra and Renault Clio, but still fails to eclipse the Honda Jazz’s 399-litre capacity.

Behind the Wheel

The ST-Line trim with a 1.0-litre, 138bhp engine is the sportiest Fiesta currently available before the full-fat ST appears next year. The 1.0-litre has bags of character and will happily rev out all the way to the limiter, but thanks to its 180Nm of torque kicking in as low as 1,500rpm it feels just as useful at lower speeds.

With the ST-Line, ride and handling are just what you’d expect from a car sat in between the standard car and a full hot hatch. It’s fun and sporty when you need it to be, though it never feels compromised for everyday driving. Large bumps and potholes do have a tendency to be transferred through to the cabin – especially compared to other trim levels – but the by-product of this is significantly reduced body roll. The tweaked power steering also inspires greater confidence in the corners.

The driving position is spot-on – as it is in most Fords – while plenty of seat adjustability means that you can easily get comfortable. 

Value for Money

There’s no disguising the fact that Ford is pushing the Fiesta into more premium territories – particularly with the top-spec Vignale – but, crucially, the vast majority of trim levels don’t jump that much in price over the previous generation. A three-door Zetec fitted with the 98bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost, for example, costs £120 less than the equivalent old Fiesta despite being fitted with additional equipment. 

Ford has increased the amount of options available with the Fiesta, too. However, certain items are only available on higher-grade trim levels. Keyless entry, for example, is only for cars in Titanium trim or above, only becoming standard on Titanium X or Vignale specs. 

Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is standard on all but the entry-level Style trims, though you’ll have to pay extra for the larger eight-inch touchscreen as oppose to the standard-fit 6.5-inch unit. DAB digital radio is standard on all but the Style model, too.

Who would buy one ?

The Fiesta is, again, one of the broadest-appealing cars on sale today. It’ll be ideal for younger and older drivers alike, while better interior space levels mean that younger families could be tempted into buying one. Ford is hoping that additional premium touches will steal some of the thunder created by the likes of the Audi A1, DS 3 and Mini. Though it’s lacking a premium badge, it certainly gives those contenders a run for their money in terms of refinement, handling and technology.

Facts at a Glance

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Ford Fiesta
Base price: £12,715
Price as tested: £18,945
Engine tested: 1.0 EcoBoost 140
Power: 138bhp
Torque: 180Nm
Max speed: 125mph
0-60mph: 9.0seconds
MPG: 62.8 (combined)
Emissions: 102g/km

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