In-depth reviews

Ford Fiesta hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Strong engines and terrific handling make the Ford Fiesta a blast to drive

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

2.5 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

In the late 1990s, a clever Ford engineering team transformed the previously staid, unadventurous Fiesta into a class leader for handling precision and driving fun. Since then, the model has largely retained its crown as the most entertaining supermini to drive – although today’s rivals (most notably the SEAT Ibiza) run it seriously close.

To make sure its engaging manners remain intact, the latest car’s floorplan has evolved directly from that of the previous model, but with much attention to construction to make it far stiffer than before. The front wheels are now 30mm wider apart for greater stability in corners and Ford claims front-end modifications bring better steering feel and sharper responses. The company also claims a 10% increase in cornering grip, with electronic torque vectoring that makes tiny brake applications to an inside front wheel for enhanced stability – and whether this clever technology really helps or not, we’re delighted to confirm that the latest Fiesta is an absolute hoot to drive.

In the ST-Line models, the steering feels lighter than that of the previous model but with no loss in feel or feedback and the car will obediently follow your chosen line through a corner. There’s bags of grip and very little body lean, so you can corner quickly with more confidence than the standard versions, and even dedicated hotted-up superminis like the Suzuki Swift Sport and Volkswagen up! GTI. Unlike some superminis, encountering a bump mid-corner is unlikely to throw the Fiesta off course, either. Despite the ST-Line wearing larger 17-inch alloy wheels, its suspension is still composed and rides well on all but the worst roads, even taking the sting out of most potholes.

Many will appreciate that the latest model hasn’t lost its playful nature, either – experienced drivers will find that the Fiesta’s balance can be adjusted in corner with the accelerator as much as with the steering in true hot-hatchback style – even if your budget can’t stretch to the cracking Fiesta ST.

Appropriately, the braking system has seen improvement over the previous model – all Fiestas with 99bhp or more are fitted with rear disc brakes. The gearchange action is unlikely to disappoint, either – the six-speed manual gearbox that comes with all EcoBoost engines has such a fast, smooth shift you might find yourself making extra gearchanges simply for fun.

In late 2020, Ford removed the diesel engine from the Fiesta range due to low sales.

Petrol engines

Entry-level Fiestas are fitted with a 1.1-litre Ti-VCT engine, which offers cheap insurance but is ponderously slow. Handily, you can now also choose two versions of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol on the cheapest Trend version. The 99bhp version completes the 0-62mph sprint much quicker, in 10.8 seconds. The 123bhp version, mated to a new and improved automatic gearbox, cuts that time to 9.6 seconds.

Mild hybrid engines

Ford has finally electrified some of the Fiesta’s EcoBoost petrol engines. First shown in the Ford Puma SUV, the 1.0-litre engine is available with mild-hybrid assistance for the 123 and 153bhp versions. Energy usually lost in braking is captured and stored in a small battery, which allows the stop-start system to cut in sooner than you might expect. The hybrid tech also powers the car’s ancillaries, like the radio, and slightly improves acceleration.

The benchmark 0-62mph figure is dealt with in 9.4 seconds for the 123bhp model, while the range-topping 153bhp engine can do it in 8.9 seconds, making it feel like a mini Fiesta ST.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.1 75 Trend 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,385

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 TDCi Trend 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,985

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 EcoBoost ST-2 Navigation 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,655

Recommended

Ford Fiesta hatchback review
Ford Fiesta Best Buy cutout
Ford Fiesta
22 Sep 2021

Ford Fiesta hatchback review

Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa
Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa header
Superminis
8 Sep 2021

Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa

Top 10 best cars for students 2021
Skoda Fabia hatchback front 3/4 static
Best cars
3 Sep 2021

Top 10 best cars for students 2021

Top 10 best used small cars 2021
Ford Fiesta Mk7
Best cars
9 Jul 2021

Top 10 best used small cars 2021

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
Fiat 500 electric
Deals
24 Sep 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Electric Citroen Ami to launch in the UK next year
2022 Citroen Ami
Citroen Ami
21 Sep 2021

Electric Citroen Ami to launch in the UK next year

Top 10 best small estates 2021
Skoda Octavia Estate
Skoda Octavia Estate
22 Sep 2021

Top 10 best small estates 2021

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks