Ford Fiesta hatchback

£10,145 - £18,395

Whether you're looking for a nippy urban runabout, a sporty hatchback or an economical yet comfortable car for long journeys, there's a Ford Fiesta to suit you.

After many years on sale, the current model – available with three or five doors – may seem a little old, but it remains one of the most competitive and attractive small cars on the market thanks to its neat styling, keen handling, comfortable interior and good value for money. In fact, these are the same reasons it'll be easy to sell on when you've finished with it.

One or two things betray its age, however. Most models have just a five-speed gearbox instead of today's more popular six speeds, while it's not as roomy as newer and better-packaged rivals such as the Nissan Note and Kia Rio. The interior is beginning to feel outdated, too, and the screen that's available in the Volkswagen Polo feels far more technologically advanced.

However, all that's forgotten when you drive the little Ford. To go with its nimble handling, there's a choice of lively and economical 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines with stop-start engine technology for improved economy. There are a couple of ageing 1.25-litre petrol engines, too, but they're sluggish and not especially refined. Finally, there's a 1.6-litre petrol engine, but it's only offered with automatic transmission.

Higher-mileage drivers should consider the 1.6-litre ECOnetic TDCi – the better of the two diesel engines in the range – which can return up to 85mpg. However, falling fuel prices and the move away from diesel to petrol and hybrid power means you need to be sure you can justify its extra cost.

Being a Ford, there's no end of trim levels to choose from. In ascending order of specification, they are: Studio, Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X. In addition, there are Fiesta Red and Black editions, as well as the sporty Ford Fiesta ST model, available in three versions.

The basic Studio model does without air-conditioning, but in common with all Fiestas, it has LED daytime running light strips, electric windows and a USB port. For its blend of affordability, easy resale and intelligent specification (including Ford's SYNC voice-control system, alloy wheels and a heated windscreen), Zetec is our pick of the line-up.

The Fiesta was awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP, so it should offer good protection in the event of an accident. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and seven airbags are standard. EcoBoost versions go one better with optional Active City Stop that automatically brakes the car if the system senses an imminent collision.