Ford Fiesta hatchback
Price: £9,995 - £17,995
- Stylish looks
- Superb fun to drive
- Cheap to run
- Small boot
- Interior is slightly tight
- Automatic only available on one engine
"The Ford Fiesta is a supermini in a class of its own – it looks stylish, it's great fun to drive and it's economical, too."
The Ford Fiesta is the best small car in the UK. In fact, we’ve been so impressed with it we’ve awarded it Best Small Car in the CarBuyer New Car Awards for the last three years in a row. Given how quickly the car industry moves – and how rapidly new cars go out of date – that's an incredible achievement. As a supermini, the Fiesta is up against cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. Ford gave it an update at the end of 2012 that included a stylish new front end and a raft of new technology, and it's helped to keep the car up to date. It's one of the best-looking superminis available, the engines are efficient, and it's competitively priced. But its biggest strength is the way it drives – it's incredible fun from behind the wheel, and you won’t find a better handling car for the same money. And for those who crave even more performance there's the Ford Fiesta ST, which leaves every other hot supermini in the dust.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Running costs are low and the Fiesta is affordable to service, too
Not many superminis can match the Ford Fiesta for its all-round low running costs. It's cheap to service, has a low insurance group rating to keep premiums down, and the engine range is very efficient – so fuel costs and tax levels are low. The ECOboost engines in particular offer excellent economy – there are several engines in the line-up that emit less than 100g/km of CO2, making them exempt from road tax. The most efficient engine in the range is the 1.6-litre diesel, which does 85mpg and emits just 87g/km CO2. But the 123bhp 1.0-litre ECOboost engine is our pick, as it offers decent power and still returns 65.7mpg, emitting less than 100g/km of CO2.
Interior & comfort
Spacious, high quality and comfortable
Ford has done a fantastic job on the Fiesta's interior. It's very high quality – and feels more like what you’d find in a premium car like the BMW 1 Series or the Mercedes A-Class rather than a mass-market supermini. The materials are excellent, there's lots of equipment, and the design is simple, functional and stylish. The seats are comfortable and supportive and there's plenty of space in the front, but there's not a huge amount of space in the rear – and the sloping roofline eats into headroom somewhat. The five-door model offers more space, though, so go for that version if you plan on using the Fiesta as a family car or you regularly need to carry more than one passenger. But both versions have a well-insulated cabin, so there is very little wind, road or engine noise even when the car is driven at high speeds – and that means the Fiesta never gets tiring, even on longer journeys.
Practicality & boot space
The Fiesta is not the most practical of superminis, with a small boot and cramped rear
Superminis are small cars, so there's a limit to how practical they can be. Still, some models manage to use the available space a lot more effectively than the Fiesta. There's not a lot of room in the rear – particularly so in the three-door model. And the swooping roofline that gives the Fiesta such a sporty profile means headroom in the rear is pretty tight. Boot space is also pretty poor, as there is only 276 litres of capacity – big enough to squeeze a suitcase in but it’ll struggle to store a pram. Split-folding rear seats come as standard and the load space expands to 960 litres if you fold them flat. That's fairly spacious, but the load area has an awkward step that makes squeezing in bigger objects a bit tricky. By comparison, the Vauxhall Corsa's 285-litre boot expands to 1,100 litres with the rear seats down and the Peugeot 208's boot has a massive 1,152-litres of capacity with the seats folded. There are some useful gadgets to boost practicality, though - the optional reversing camera plays an image in the rear view mirror, which makes reverse parking as simple as could be.
Reliability & safety
Safety is faultless and quality is good but owners don’t seem too impressed
The Ford Fiesta has a five-star safety rating from the Euro NCAP crash tests. All models come with seven airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. Ford's Active City Stop system is an optional extra, too, which will automatically brake the car if it detects a crash is imminent. We have been impressed with the quality of the Ford Fiesta and it feels robust and well put together. There have been no major faults reported with it either, but owners haven’t been hugely impressed with it if feedback from the Driver Power satisfaction survey is to be believed. It failed to get into the Top 100 cars league table in the 2013 edition of Driver Power. In fact, it came 117th – which doesn’t speak well for the Fiesta's durability. And Ford didn’t fare well in the manufacturer chart, either, coming 23rd out of 32 – not great for the nation's biggest selling car brand. Still, we would expect the Fiesta's ranking to improve in 2014, as the facelifted model appears to be of higher quality.
Engines, drive & performance
No other supermini can match the Fiesta for driving thrills
The Ford Fiesta is not just good to drive for a supermini, it's one of the best cars to drive of any class and it is a long way ahead of its rivals in this category. The steering is superb, the car is agile and responsive, there's loads of grip, it's good around town as well as on the motorway and it feels fun. Ford's engineers have done a fantastic job of tuning the suspension, too, so that it's comfortable and capable of easing the car over potholes while still delivering incredible handling. In fact, even the sportier Zetec S and ST models never feel uncomfortable, which is seriously impressive for performance models.
The engine line-up is great, too. There are four petrol options: a 60bhp 1.25-litre, an 82bhp 1.25-litre, a 98bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre ECOboost and a 123bhp 1.0-litre ECOboost – all of which are smooth, quiet and powerful. Diesel options include a 74bhp 1.5-litre TDCi and a 94bhp 1.6-litre TDCi, and both offer a great mix of power and economy.
Price, value for money & options
For the performance and quality on offer, the Fiesta is a bargain
The Fiesta is competitively priced but it's not the cheapest supermini on sale, and some rivals – like the Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio – offer more equipment as standard. But then the Fiesta is so good to drive and of such good quality that it still offers great value for money. There's a choice of six spec levels: entry-level Studio, Style, Zetec, Titanium, Zetec S, and Titanium X. Studio is pretty basic, as you’d expect, while top-spec Titanium X offers a lot of equipment but is also very expensive. Zetec models offer the best balance of equipment and value and come with air-con, electric windows, a USB connection, heated windscreen and leather steering wheel. Bluetooth is a £200 extra – even though it's standard on many rivals. Still, resale values will be better than rivals like the Renault Clio or Vauxhall Corsa, even if they won’t match those of the Volkswagen Polo.
What the others say
"The Fiesta blends hot hatch agility with a superb ride. It's great to drive at any speed, on any type of road. A well laid out cabin, smooth petrol engine and excellent refinement are the finishing touches."
"The three-door looks genuinely brilliant - especially in some of the new bold colours. The five-door doesn't look half bad either. Just one problem - the Fiesta name just hasn't got the barside pizzazz you might want."
"It has the firm-but-controlled ride of a truly rigid car calibrated by people who love driving, it leans hardly at all, and both brakes and five-speed gearbox work exactly as you would like them to."
"There's a very nice, Honda-like, leather rim steering wheel on top versions, height and reach adjustable on all versions. All the trim is high quality and beautifully put together. If Audi made a car this size I doubt they'd have done a better job."
Last updated: 21 Feb 2014