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Ford Fiesta hatch: The UK’s favourite supermini is a winner


fiesta ford hatch PH

The fiesta ford hatch has been the UK’s favourite supermini for the past 41 years

When it comes to the Ford Fiesta it’s hard for the superlatives not to come thick and fast.

More than 4.5million of them have been sold since 1976 and it has been the UK’s favourite supermini for the vast majority of those intervening 41 years since, as well as being the best-selling car on these shores for the last eight years. 

We’ve had the sporty XR2 hot hatch with us since 1981.

The Fiesta was the first small car in the UK with anti-lock brakes and with the arrival of this sixth-generation model, it is still as adaptable, flexible and appealing as ever.

After all, how many other car model ranges can encompass everything from a hot hatch to a functional everyday supermini while also returning 82mpg average fuel economy or boasting luxury car touches?

Not many that’s for sure and none can do so while still remaining current and desirable.

The outgoing Fiesta is a not-inconsiderable nine years old, virtually prehistoric in supermini terms, yet is still one of the best small cars on the market today. While this latest model might not look that far removed from its predecessor there’s a lot going on under the skin.

Most prominent among those changes is with its new versions with a sporty ST-Line model, crossover-inspired Active, upmarket Vignale as well as the high-spec Titanium models. 

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More than 4.5million of the loved cars have been sold since 1976

As with Ford’s other offerings, two thirds of Fiestas leaving showrooms are the higher-spec cars so the blue oval is keen to take advantage of that, especially with the forthcoming Vignale.

Furthermore, as well as a panoramic glass roof for the first time and a new Bang & Olufsen stereo system, there’s greater safety equipment than ever (pedestrian detection and park assist systems) as well as the continued availability of three and five-door models – an ever-growing rarity in this sector. Longer and wider than the outgoing car there’s a question mark for us over this new Fiesta’s looks though.

With styling ever more important in the sector (see Citroën’s C3 and the new Nissan Micra) this new Fiesta just looks and feels a bit too conservative for our liking, especially at the rear.

Also, rather oddly with three different headlights in the range, there’s not even a distinctive daytime running-light signature consistent across all the models which seems a strange oversight in this day and age.

Under the bonnet there’s a choice of five petrol engines, with a 1.1-litre kicking off the range in 70bhp and 85bhp forms, although this is likely to be purchased mainly by larger company car fleets.

The vast majority of sales are sure to be the turbo-charged 1.0-litre petrol that comes in 100bhp, 125bhp or 140bhp forms. 

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REAR VIEW: The Fiesta is a little conservative at the back

The mid-range version of that car covers the 0 to 60mph sprint in 9.9 seconds and has a 121mph top speed, while also returning 78.4mpg average fuel economy and 98g/km emissions.

On the turbo-diesel side of things there’s a choice of two 1.5-litres with 85bhp or, for the first time, a more powerful 120bhp model taking just 9.0 seconds to get from 0 to 60mph and with an 80.7mpg average at the pumps and 89g/km emissions.

A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted to all models, bar the entry-level 1.1-litre which gets just five cogs, although it’s disappointing for such a popular car that an engine stop-start isn’t standard across the entire range.

What certainly isn’t in doubt, though, is how much more refined it is compared to its predecessor.

On the move, the ride quality, road and engine noise levels are far better than before, giving it a much more mature feel.

Yes, there’s some wind noise around the door seals but even its most recent rivals such as the Citroën C3 and Nissan Micra can’t match its refinement.

Every silver lining has its cloud however, and the downside for that extra refinement has perhaps been some of the Fiesta’s famous driver enjoyment.

It’s still a reasonably fun experience to steer the baby Ford down a twisty country lane.

But while the steering is sharp, there’s little feel to what the car is doing beneath you. There’s a slight disconnect to how the car turns. 

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TUNED-UP: Inside is a Bang and Olufsen stereo

Rather than a progressive linear reaction to turning the wheel there is little response at first before it then turns in quite aggressively.

It can mean that rather than a gentle curve around a corner you can have several bites at it.

The ST Line, with its lower ride height, feels slightly better but you hope Ford’s engineers can resolve this issue for the full-blooded ST hot hatch due early next year.

Also not helping involvement levels is a driver’s seat in the Vignale that never feels like it really goes low enough.

That’s a shame when the rest of the interior is pretty good. Some of the plastics lower down are a little low-rent, even on that flagship Vignale, but overall it’s a vast improvement and the build-quality is excellent.

It’s disappointing that Ford has forgotten its previous promise to provide DAB digital as standard – it’s not on the entry-level Style model – and there’s no Isofix child seat mountings on the front seat.

Given its growth in exterior size we wouldn’t mind more rear seat space, especially behind your feet, while taller drivers and passengers should avoid the headroom stealing panoramic sunroof.

Even in a fiercely competitive market with talented rivals – C3, Micra, Hyundai i20, Seat Ibiza and Kia Rio to name but five – it’s hard not to see this Fiesta being a success.

But while the outgoing Fiesta has remained in that top slot for the past eight years by virtue of sheer breadth of talent that’s probably not the case for this model.

Yes it’s sure to be the continued best-seller in the supermini market, but that’s more through default from all its rivals having issues of their own rather than outright brilliance from Ford.

Make no mistake, this latest Fiesta is a good car but we can’t help but feel it could and should have been a great one.

LOGBOOK LOWDOWN

Model: Ford Fiesta

On sale: July 

Price range: £12,715-£19,875

Engines: Petrol – 1.1, 1.1 85bhp, 1.0 turbo, 1.0 125bhp, 1.0-litre 140bhp; Turbo-diesel – 1.5, 1.5-litre 120bhp

Power: 0 to 60mph in 9.0 seconds, 125mph top speed (1.0 140bhp)

Average fuel economy: 88.3mpg (1.5TD) l CO2 emissions range: 82-118g/km 

Rivals: Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, VW Polo

Rating: 9/10



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