The Ford Fiesta first hit the market in Europe in 1976 and was an immediate success, with crisp, modern looks and simple engineering.
There had already been a fun-loving 1300 Sport version of the Fiesta and this became the basis for the rare and celebrated Fiesta Supersport. While not offering any more power than the regular car, its looks were purposeful.
Every fast Fiesta can trace its lineage back to this significant car. The XR2 used a 1.6-litre Ford Escort engine – big for this size of car – and was designed to offer a more rewarding driving experience.
The MK2 Fiesta, shown here in XR2 trim, was a far more involved redesign than its looks suggest. The more rounded nose and slim grille weren't exactly revolutionary, but Ford strove to increase comfort, safety and economy.
In 1989 the Fiesta grew and changed in character. After no fundamental design changes in 13 years, the new model reflected how people’s car use was evolving.
By the end of the eighties, the hot-hatchback movement was in full swing and Ford knew it needed to stay competitive. Its solution was to turn the volume on the XR2i up to 11 by using a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine.
In 1995, the idea of a fast Fiesta was put on ice, but the improved Mk4 Fiesta appealed in a new way. While the outline shape barely changed, there were massive improvements elsewhere, including a high-quality interior.
When it came to updates, Ford was in the habit of making improvements where really necessary, rather than fundamentally redesigning the whole car. In 1998, the Fiesta was facelifted yet again, with a more contemporary nose treatment.
In 2003 Ford launched the first Fiesta to be new from the ground up for 14 years, and in keeping with the brand’s new corporate identity, it resembled a scaled-down Ford Focus.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking – this isn’t a Fiesta. But the taller, bulkier Ford Fusion was basically a Fiesta under the metal and actually a far better car than its stodgy image and strange lack of marketing let on.
The supermini class was now changing faster than ever and rivals were making the Fiesta look rather old-fashioned. Ford fought back, though, with its most stylish and best-quality Fiesta yet.
It was the facelifted Mk6 that finally brought fast Fiesta enthusiasts the car they were hankering for. This time, the Fiesta ST became a real powerhouse, with a turbocharged 180bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine.
The latest Fiesta, which went on sale in 2017, represented a major shake-up for Ford's supermini. With the Ka+ now taking the place of entry-level models in the range, the latest Fiesta offers a more upmarket line-up than before.