Ford Fiesta Studio
Go for the 81bhp 1.25-litre petrol engine. It has a good blend of performance and economy, and with the discounts available can be bought for less than £10,000.
There's no finer supermini to drive than the Ford Fiesta, and the enjoyment isn’t diluted if you buy the cheapest model in the range. The direct steering and sharp handling set it apart from rivals, but it's also comfortable. There are three- and five-door versions, both of which look sharp even in basic Studio spec. You have a choice of 59bhp and 81bhp 1.25-litre petrol engines or a 69bhp 1.4-litre diesel that's worth considering if you do a high mileage. Studio is the starting point for the range, but it's far from a no-frills special for buyers on a tight budget. There's central locking, power steering, powered and heated door mirrors and electric front windows, plus somewhere to plug in a portable music player such as an iPod. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard, and the filler cap is designed to prevent you putting in the wrong fuel by mistake.
Ford has got the Fiesta Studio spot on. It is priced to compete with traditionally cheaper rivals from the Far East, particularly Korea, but has a decent level of equipment. We’re especially impressed by the safety items fitted as standard, headed by the potentially life-saving feature of electronic stability control. The Fiesta Studio has relatively narrow 14-inch wheels, but that doesn’t affect driver enjoyment, which is one of the major attractions of the Fiesta. The trio of engines offers something for everyone: a 59bhp 1.25-litre petrol unit that's ideal if you drive mostly in town, a 69bhp 1.4-litre diesel for high-mileage drivers and an 81bhp 1.25-litre petrol engine that's perfect if you regularly use motorways but don’t cover enough miles to justify buying the diesel.
The rear of the cabin is borderline cramped, so the Fiesta can’t really serve as a family car like some supeminis, and it had nowhere near as much care and attention lavished on it as the front. The plastics are hard and drab and the seats don’t fold flat when you want to expand the boot. Some desirable options, like air conditioning and Bluetooth, aren’t available as options at this trim level.