Ford Fiesta hatchback

£10,145 - £18,395

The Ford Fiesta is the UK's best-selling car. But while it looks stylish, is fun to drive and available with a choice of engines and trims to suit most pockets and desires, owners complain about its quality and lack of space, especially in the rear. One of its fiercest rivals, the VW Polo, certainly feels better made, while the Kia Rio and Nissan Note are more spacious.

The Fiesta comes in three and five-door body styles. The former looks neat and sporty, but getting into the back of the car is difficult. The five-door is far better in this respect, making it the best all-round option.

You can have your Fiesta with petrol or diesel power. Typically, diesel is often the first choice for high-mileage drivers, but the car's EcoBoost petrol engines are actually quite economical – at least if driven sensibly – and well worth considering instead. They’re certainly more efficient than the cheaper and more conventional 1.25 and 1.6-litre petrol engines Ford offers.

The only diesel is a 1.5-litre, available in two power outputs. It's not especially quick, but it’ll return excellent economy with little effort, and costs nothing to tax. If you do a lot of motorway driving and rack up a high mileage, it's well worth considering.

Whether you choose diesel or petrol power, you’ll find the Fiesta is fun to drive – especially the impressive, range-topping ST). Standard models have quick and direct steering, a comfortable yet polished ride and plenty of grip. Engine and road noise are well suppressed, too, so long journeys aren’t a chore.

The Fiesta's cabin looks stylish, but is let down in places by poor fit and finish. This is a small car, so you shouldn’t expect acres of space. However, while the front is roomy enough and the driving position is excellent, the back of the car is quite cramped. The five-door really is the way to go if you want to improve access here. The boot is a decent size and well shaped.

There are seven trim levels – not including the economy-oriented ECOnetic versions – spanning very basic Studio to luxurious Titanium X and sporty ST. Our favourite is mid-range Zetec. It lifts the Fiesta's styling with some attractive body detailing and alloy wheels, plus it brings a heated windscreen (a boon on frosty mornings) and Ford's SYNC entertainment system with DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and voice control. You also get air-conditioning and a height-adjustable driver's seat.

Although they like the car, Carbuyer readers aren’t overly impressed with the Fiesta's reliability. Fortunately, Euro NCAP was impressed enough with its crash safety to award it the full five stars. All versions have seven airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. There are lots of optional safety items, too.