Ford Fiesta review – still the best supermini?
The new Ford Fiesta has grown up with improved refinement and updated interior tech yet still offers class-leading driving dynamics.
Replacing a well-loved model with the next generation can be fraught with danger but Ford has managed to keep all the best bits of the outgoing Fiesta while enhancing areas where the old car was beginning to lag behind its rivals. Central to the previous Fiesta’s DNA was an entertaining driving experience and with this new eighth generation machine Ford has managed to keep the car’s feisty and playful nature while improving refinement, updating the interior and adding some of the tech that’s expected even in the supermini class these days.
There’s a wide choice of engines – two petrols and one diesel (all available in different states of tune) – and combined with the extensive trim levels there should be a Fiesta to suit just about every buyer. We’re looking forward to the arrival of the ST hot hatch in 2018 but for the time being the Ecoboost ST-Line models give us a glimpse at how the new ST will be. And the future looks bright.
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An enhanced chassis hasn’t taken anything away from the driving experience but has added an improved ride and upped the refinement. Inside there’s a much better cockpit with many models featuring large touchscreens and Ford Sync technology, although some interior trims still feel a little hard, low rent and behind the quality standard set by some rivals.
Ford Fiesta in detail
Performance and 0-60 time > Ecoboost petrols offer decent performance – 9.0sec to 62mph for the 138bhp model – while a new higher power diesel is similarly brisk.
Engine and gearbox > Three different engines to choose from. 1.1-litre petrols in entry level models, 1-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost in three different states of tune plus two diesels mean plenty of choice. Six-speed manual standard on higher power versions.
Ride and handling > Still class leading. An updated chassis resists understeer well and rewards the committed driver while comfort and refinement levels have also improved.
MPG and running costs > Diesels offer claimed 80mpg+ while Ecoboost petrols offer 60mpg potential. Low insurance groups and affordable servicing should make running costs pleasantly palatable.
Interior and tech > Updated interior dominated by new touchscreen that works well and offers excellent connectivity. A little cramped in the rear as expected from a supermini. Some cabin materials a little low rent.
Design > Stays true to its predecessor’s styling while still managing to look fresh. ST-Line adds more sporting looks while range topping Vignale has its own unique style.
Prices, specs and rivals
Despite two models in the Fiesta range – the ST and the Active – having yet to make their debuts there’s still an extensive line-up to choose from with trim levels ranging from the entry-level Style through Zetec and Titanium and onto the sportier styled ST-Line and range-topping Vignale. Engines range from a 1.1-litre three-cylinder (69 or 84bhp) to the 1-litre Ecoboost (99, 123 or 138bhp) and there are two 1.5-litre diesels too in 84 and 118bhp states of tune.
Standard kit levels increase as you go up the range and around three-quarters of buyers will opt for the more practical five-door shell. Style models have manual air con, auto lights, AM/FM radio with a 4.2in TFT screen and lane keeping tech while Zetec models add a larger 6.5in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a Quickclear heated screen, LED running lights and a leather steering wheel with audio controls.
Titanium brings 16in alloys, Ford Sync 3 Navigation, cruise control, powered folding mirrors and additional driver assistance tech, while a Titanium X adds a B&O audio system, a rear view camera and part leather heated seats. The range topping Vignale has unique front and rear bumpers and a bespoke front grille along with all the Titanium X goodies plus leather seats and a Panorama sunroof.
Until the full-fat ST arrives next year it’s likely evo buyers will be most interested in the ST-Line models as not only do they feature the ST’s body styling they receive 17-inch alloys, sports seats, sports suspension and a smattering of unique ST-Line trim. ST-Line X adds navigation with an 8in touchscreen, LED front and rear lights and cruise control along with a few other goodies. Prices for the ST-Line start at £16,595 for the three-door 99bhp Ecoboost and rise to £18,975 for a five-door 118bhp 1.5TDCi, and opting for the ST-Line X trim level adds an extra £1350 to the price.
The Fiesta’s most likely rival, certainly in terms of driving dynamics, is the new SEAT Ibiza and in the FR trim level it’s broadly equivalent to a Fiesta ST-Line. The 1.0 TSI Ibiza in 113bhp tune and FR trim costs £17,280 – more or less the same as the 99bhp 1-litre Ecoboost Fiesta with the 123bhp Fiesta costing another £500 over the Ibiza. The Fiesta does offer more standard kit though and has better emissions, too.
The new VW Polo is also worth consideration, especially if you fancy the idea of the Fiesta Vignale as the VW also has that upmarket feel even if it can’t touch the Fiesta for driver involvement. Prices are yet to be announced for the Polo SEL and R-Line models and while they might be a little more expensive than the higher-end Fiesta models on a spec adjusted basis they may well feel a little more premium than Ford’s offering.
evo tip – Watch out for the cost creeping up on some higher end models, you could easily spend over £20k on a Vignale model – do you really need quilted leather seats and a Panoramic sunroof in your warm hatch? ST-Line and Titanium models look to offer better value for money.