The entry-level 1.1-litre petrol engine has just 69bhp, although there’s a stronger version with a more respectable 84bhp. We haven’t tried the entry-level one, but the 84bhp unit does feel a bit gutless on faster roads, so it’s certainly worth opting for the pokier turbocharged Ecoboost engines.
These come in a variety of power outputs, starting with the 99bhp 1.0 Ecoboost. This a great engine that is peppy around town and comfortable on longer motorway trips. The sweet spot, though, is the 123bhp version that offers a step up in pace (without much additional cost), while the 138bhp version pulls eagerly from low revs yet loves to be revved beyond 6000rpm. For the lowdown on the sportiest Fiesta ST model, read our dedicated review here.
There are two 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engines available, but you’ll have to do a seriously high mileage to justify their significantly higher purchase price. For most people, the decently frugal Ecoboost units will make more financial sense.
One of the most appealing things about the Fiesta is that it combines small car fun with big car sophistication, and that’s true of the way it rides. Steer clear of the larger optional alloy wheels and the Fiesta deals brilliantly with the sort of nasty sharp-edged bumps and potholes that are all too common on British backroads.
True, the Seat Ibiza smooths over smaller imperfections slightly more adroitly, but otherwise the Fiesta is more comfortable than every other rival in the small car class. ST-Line models have firmer sports suspension, so you feel more of the bumps as they pass beneath the car. However, the ride is still extremely well controlled, so you won't bounce up and down wildly over undulations taken at speed.
If you opt for an Active model, you’ll benefit from a subtly softer ride, thanks to a higher ride height and tweaked suspension set-up that enable the car to cope even better than the standard Fiesta with sharp jolts.
The Fiesta is a humble hatchback that’s as fun to drive as some sports cars, thanks to its sharp handling and precise, well-weighted steering. Keen drivers will love its responsive, composed nature on demanding roads, but it’s the Fiesta’s ability to put a smile on your face on even the most mundane journey that’s so endearing.
Put simply, the Fiesta is the best-handling small car on the market and actually outshines many cars from the class above. Mind you, the Ibiza comes jolly close to being the Fiesta’s equal, even though it isn’t quite as nimble.
ST-Line versions receive sports suspension with a lower ride height. This makes the Fiesta even more agile and grippy; this is great if you want hot hatch handling without the bigger bills that a powerful engine brings. If you do want the full-fat hot hatchabck experience, you can read all about the Fiesta ST by clicking here.
Active versions, meanwhile, have a slightly blunter dynamic edge compared with other Fiestas. The car’s body rolls a tad more in corners and generally doesn’t feel quite so well tied down through fast, twisty bends – although the difference is only slight. The increased ride height does, however, mean the Active model gets 18mm extra ground clearance over standard Fiestas – this is helpful if you happen to live down the end of a rutted track or have to occasionally traverse rocky ground.
A further addition to Active is the choice of three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Slippery. The first two settings are fairly self-explanatory, while Slippery mode adjusts the traction control to help when you're driving on lower-grip surfaces, such as snow or mud.
The 1.0 Ecoboost engine is remarkably smooth and quiet for a three-cylinder unit. Accelerate hard and you feel and hear less of a buzz than you do in rivals with equivalent engines, such as the Ibiza and Skoda Fabia.
There's some road noise, particularly on versions with larger alloy wheels, but not enough to really irritate. However, there is a little bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, especially in models fitted with a panoramic glass roof.
Meanwhile, the Fiesta’s accelerator, brake and clutch pedals are all positively weighted, making it a really easy car to drive smoothly. The six-speed manual gearbox fitted to most versions is also very precise – if not quite as slick as that in the rival Ibiza – while the five-speed 'box in 1.1-litre models is just as enjoyable to use.
You sit higher up than in many rivals. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t appeal to all tastes. Active models have a ride height that's 18mm higher, but while it is noticeable it’s a subtle difference.
Otherwise, the Fiesta’s driving position is tough to knock; the seat holds you securely in place through corners while remaining comfortable on long distances.
Go for ST-Line X trim or higher and you’ll even get adjustable lumbar support – a rare but important feature in this class. Happily, it’s a cheap option on Style and Zetec models.
Meanwhile, the controls for the air conditioning (which becomes automatic climate control when you upgrade to ST-Line X trim) are logical and clearly marked, although the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel are a bit fiddly.
The Fiesta’s funky shape does compromise visibility slightly, with relatively small rear side windows hampering your over-the-shoulder view. Mind you, the high driving position gives a good view of the road ahead and the view out of junctions isn’t too restricted.
A heated windscreen that can de-ice frost in moments is a major boon in winter and is standard on all trims apart from entry-level Style. Rear parking sensors are standard on Vignale trim and a reasonably priced option on others, while a reversing camera is fitted to Titanium X and Vignale cars (optional on everything but Style).
The 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav on Titanium models and above is bright and relatively simple to use, even if it isn’t as intuitive or quick to respond as the one in the Seat Ibiza or VW Polo. Our main complaint is that there are no physical shortcut buttons, to make it easier to hop between functions.
Big-selling Zetec and ST-Line trims make do with a 6.5in touchscreen that doesn’t have built-in sat-nav, although upgrading to the larger screen won’t break the bank. Meanwhile, all trims apart from entry-level Style have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to tether your phone and control selected apps through the car’s touchscreen, including navigation.
As for Style trim, you get an AM/FM radio with a 4.2in screen and Bluetooth. You also get a device dock that holds your smartphone if you want to use it as a sat-nav, for instance. It’s worth upgrading to Zetec, though.
The upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system is seriously punchy, if a little flat in the mid-range. It's still well worth considering if you love music, though, and comes as standard on B&O editions and selected other upper trims. If you still use CDs, a glovebox-mounted CD player is optional on all Fiestas.
The bits you touch regularly – the steering wheel, gearknob and indicator stalks – feel fairly upmarket by the standards of the class, and the Fiesta even has soft-touch plastic on parts of its dashboard. You won’t find any of that in an Ibiza or a Skoda Fabia.
Mind you, the Fiesta’s interior doesn’t feel quite as solidly screwed together as the Ibiza’s or Polo's. You’ll also notice some unappealingly textured plastics lower down on the Fiesta’s dashboard.
Despite its steeply sloping windscreen and a slightly lofty driving position, the Fiesta has plenty of head room for those sitting in the front. That said, we’d resist the temptation to add the optional panoramic glass roof if you’re really tall, which reduces head room noticeably. Leg room is also good and there’s enough elbow space for two broad adults to sit comfortably.
There’s a reasonable amount of oddment space, including an area ahead of the gearlever that’s just about big enough for a smartphone. Meanwhile, the door pockets can accommodate a small drinks bottle, plus there are a pair of cupholders conveniently positioned between the seats.
This is not the Fiesta’s strongest suit. A couple of six-footers will fit, and the leg room on offer is similar to that offered by a Polo, but not on a par with the Ibiza. However, head room is not as generous as its rivals (especially with the panoramic roof fitted) and the rear seat is quite narrow by class standards, so you'll struggle to fit three adults abreast as easily as you might in the roomiest competition.
A third rear passenger won’t relish a long journey due to limited space for their head and feet. The Fiesta is also quite narrow across the rear-seat area compared with the biggest cars in this class.
Ford hasn’t given the Fiesta any special seating tricks to make its interior more versatile. All models get a simple fixed rear seatbase and a backrest that splits 60/40 and folds down, but that’s the bare minimum we’d expect in this class.
Some rivals offer more: the Honda Jazz, for example, has cinema-style rear seats (the bases can be flipped up), while the rear seatbacks in the Mini 5dr can be reclined.
Front passenger seat height adjustment and lumbar support is standard on Titanium X, ST-Line X and Vignale trims, and optional others.
Need a big boot? Well, we fitted five carry-on suitcases in the back of the Fiesta, which isn't at all bad. That said, you will find more space available in the boot of the Seat Ibiza or Honda Jazz.
Dropping the rear backrests leaves an annoying step in the floor of the Fiesta’s extended load bay, although the optional height-adjustable boot floor irons this out in its highest setting and also reduces the otherwise big lip at the boot entrance. It’s a similar story in rivals such as the Ibiza.
If you are hoping the Fiesta is a budget option, you’ll be mildly disappointed; compared with rivals such as the Skoda Fabia, it’s actually quite pricey. Discounts aren’t as big as you might expect, either, although the Fiesta is predicted to hold onto its value better than many rivals.
If you’re buying on PCP finance, as many small car buyers choose to do, the Fiesta isn’t as good value as its rivals – namely the Fabia and Seat Ibiza. On the plus side, the Fiesta is cheaper than many rivals to run as a company car, thanks to its low CO2 emissions, while monthly leasing rates are also temptingly low.
Entry-level Style trim is best avoided; you have to make do with steel wheels and the standard infotainment system is decidedly basic, although you do at least get air-con. Our favourite trim, Zetec, is one rung up the ladder and brings alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, front foglights, a smarter-looking interior and a much more advanced infotainment package.
Titanium trim is also worth a look, adding cruise control, power-folding door mirrors, keyless start, automatic lights and wipers, plus sat-nav. However, we’d recommend steering clear of pricey Titanium X and Vignale trims, and the B&O Play editions are also rather expensive.
Want something a bit sportier? ST-Line is probably for you, because it adds 17in alloy wheels, stiffer sports suspension, figure-hugging seats and various sporty styling touches, including a bodykit and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. There's also ST-Line X trim, which has these sporty trimmings with similar luxuries to Titanium X.
Or fancy a car that feels more off-road? Active trim gets a ride height that's 18mm higher and is available in three trim levels. Active 1 is based on our favourite Zetec trim and is the one to go for; Active B&O Play gets the same kit but has a Bang & Olufsen sound system; and Active X adds some luxuries but raises the price considerably.
The previous-generation Fiesta was awarded above-average marks for reliability in our most recent survey, bettering the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. Given that the latest Fiesta shares many nuts and bolts with its predecessor, the signs are promising.
The Fiesta’s standard warranty lasts for three years or 60,000 miles; this is broadly in line with the class average, if some way short of the five-year/100,000-mile cover offered on the Hyundai i20 and Toyota Yaris, or the seven-year cover on the Kia Rio. An extended Ford warranty that’ll cover your Fiesta for up to five years or 100,000 miles is a relatively cheap option.
All Fiestas come with seven airbags, lane-keep assist and Ford’s MyKey system – a programmable ignition key that is designed to limit the car’s top speed, mute the sound system and prevent the stability control system from being disabled. This should give you some peace of mind when you hand over the keys to your newly qualified son or daughter.
Upgrade to Titanium trim and you’ll also get traffic sign recognition and a driver alert detector, while blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alert (a system that warns you of approaching vehicles when you’re backing out of your driveway) are on the options list. However, the big disappointment is that automatic emergency braking (AEB) is not standard on any trim - it is on many rivals - and unavailable on the sporty ST models. On non-ST models it's well worth adding the optional Driver Assistance Pack – it’s pretty cheap and adds AEB with pedestrian detection, along with automatic high-beam assist and adaptive cruise control.
The Fiesta was awarded five stars (out of five) for safety by Euro NCAP. It was found to be better than the Ibiza at protecting child occupants, although it was inferior at keeping adult occupants safe and protecting pedestrians.
All versions come with an engine immobiliser to deter thieves, while Zetec models and above also have a Thatcham-approved alarm.
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