The Ford Fiesta has sold over 4 million examples in the UK since its 1976 introduction, and has consistently been the best selling car in the UK since the latest car was introduced in 2008. A lot has changed since the first-generation model, and the Fiesta is now more technologically advanced, better to drive, more efficient and sharper looking than ever. And this years revision, with new engines, styling and technology makes it even more appealing to anyone in the market for a supermini. We slipped behind the wheel of a new £13,645 1.0-litre EcoBoost in Zetec trim to find out just how much better it is.
The Fiesta has always been one of the sharpest looking models in the sector, and the good news is not much has changed with the latest car. Up front, the slick headlamps have been sharpened up even further and they now flank a larger and more distinctive grille, while the bonnet gains a central power dome. Save for some tweaks to the rear lights, there are no other changes to the exterior – and the cabin is broadly the same apart from some different trim, a new armrest (really) and a revised ‘flow-through’ centre console.
Supermini packaging is always crucial to success in the sector, and for the Ford Fiesta it’s always been near, if not at, the top of the game. There’s no change in interior space over previous cars, but it's adequate for most – even if the new flow-through centre console doesn’t liberate any extra storage. Whether you’re sat in the front or rear the seats prove perfectly comfortable, and there’s plenty of adjustment to tailor the driving position to your requirements. Add to that a 295-litre boot, which can be extended by 684-litres by folding the rear bench, and you have one of the best all-round cabins in the class.
Performance & handling
The star of the show here is the new 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol already available in the Ford Focus with either 99bhp or 123bhp. Regardless of power output there’s little in the way of expected vibration, the offset flywheel and oil-bathed cambelt reducing friction and any unwanted vibration. In practice there’s a distinctive three-cylinder thrum under full load, but when cruising the unit is almost eerily silent. You’re not likely to need the extra 24bhp anyway, so we’d stick with the 99bhp model which can still sprint from 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds.
There’ve been no changes to the chassis, but the Fiesta was still the class-leader when it came to fun behind the wheel. Turn in is sharp, body control taut and the steering full of feedback, while the suspension manages that rare trick of straddling both comfort and control, no matter the speed.
Economy & environment
The new Ford Fiesta has six engines available with CO2 emissions below 100g/km, including a new 1.5TDCi engine that manages to achieve the figure without the use of start/stop. On paper it’s the 85.6mpg and 87g/km 1.6 TDCi that’s the star of the efficiency show, but don’t discount the petrols. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost units stand out here again; both achieve 99g/km of CO2 and a combined economy of 65.7mpg, so there’s no running cost or efficiency penalty for choosing the more powerful version. Along with stop/start there’s smart regenerative charging, a gearshift indicator light and software that tracks your driving style and offers advice on how to drive more efficiently.
Equipment & value
The Ford Fiesta costs £9,795 for the three-door Studio model with the 1.25-litre petrol engine but if you want to enjoy the excellent 1.0-litre 99bhp EcoBoost engine you’ll need at least £13,645 for the Zetec model. Opt for the 123bhp car and the price rises another £1,750 for the Zetec S trim level. For the first time Ford’s MyKey is available on the Fiesta. The programmable device allows for certain parameters to be altered, such as top speed, audio volume or ESP settings – ideal for children driving the family car. It’ll even mute the stereo until seatbelts are fastened.
The Fiesta was awarded a Euro NCAP advanced safety award, due to Ford's City Stop system which brakes the car to a stop if it detects an imminent collision. Otherwise it gained its five-star status thanks to seven airbags and SYNC emergency assistance, which alerts local authorities if the car is involved in an incident.
The Fiesta was already worthy of its place at the top of the sales charts, and the recent revisions simply add to its considerable appeal. The new 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine makes it more compelling than ever, offering sprightly performance (even in its lower-output form), impressive efficiency and unexpected levels of refinement. Sure, you have to pay a little more for it than some rivals, but the Fiesta is better equipped, better to drive and has interior quality that can challenge the very best. In fact, the whole package is so good, even those rivals that are larger and more expensive should be very worried indeed.
Model tested: Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Zetec five door
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder
Acceleration: 0-62 in 11.2 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Emissions: 99g/km CO2