Ford Fiesta hatchback

£10,345 - £18,595

The Ford Fiesta is the best-selling new car in the country – in fact, more Fiestas have been sold in the UK than any other car, which is quite an achievement. But why? Well, it's good-looking, great value for money, fantastic to drive and cheap to run. 

All of these are important attributes in any popular new car, but you may find that the Fiesta a little wanting when it comes to practicality – its rear seats and the boot are small compared to those of rivals like the Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia. It also doesn’t measure up well next to the Nissan Note and Kia Rio, but they were designed from the outset to be more practical than the average supermini, so you can’t really blame the Fiesta for that. 

Where the Fiesta does star, however, is in the engine stakes and how it drives. There's a great range of petrols and diesels – all of which offer a great balance between performance and economy. If you do high mileage, the 1.5-litre diesel is probably the one to go for, but for everyone else, we’d recommend the 99bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol. It offers flexible performance, as well as good economy and low CO2 emissions, which means low running costs.

From behind the wheel, the Fiesta is by far and away at the top of its class. Not only does it offer an entertaining drive – the steering is sharp, direct and full of feel, while there's also plenty of grip and body lean is very well supressed – but it also rides comfortably and is reasonably quiet, too, so long motorway journeys aren’t a chore.

Inside, however, it's beginning to feel its age, with rivals like the VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza surging ahead for both material quality and in-car technology – Ford's SYNC system lags behind the rest a fair bit.

The entry-level Studio model is very sparsely equipped, but it's also only available with outdated engines, so it's best avoided anyway. If you go for a model in Zetec trim with the aforementioned 99bhp EcoBoost engine, then you should be pretty happy, as you’ll get useful kit such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB digital radio and air-conditioning. Top-of-the-range Titanium X models are very well-equipped, but choosing this trim level makes the Fiesta quite expensive.

The Fiesta is safe, too, scoring the full five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2012. You get seven airbags, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. If you feel it's necessary, you can specify loads of extra safety kit, too.

In terms of reliability, the Ford Fiesta came 41st out of 200 cars in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, which is pretty impressive, although owners were clearly concerned about build quality, as it managed just 131st place in this regard.