Britain's best-selling car since 2009, the Ford Fiesta supermini is now in its seventh-generation. The latest version was launched in 2017 and is priced from £13,165 to £19,795.
The Fiesta was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by independent crash test authority, Euro NCAP, and there's a decent list of driving assistance and safety technology on offer including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection (Ford’s version of autonomous emergency braking).
Rivals include impressive newcomers such as the Seat Ibiza, Volkswagen Polo and Nissan Micra, plus the Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio. Insurance group range: 2-15.
More evolutionary than revolutionary, compared to its predecessor, the familiar profile is still there, but the keen-eyed will spot the new car’s more fluid lines, smoother bonnet, swept-back headlights and horizontal rear lights. Still available as a three or five-door, it’s actually slightly longer and wider.
However, it’s inside where the big changes have occurred. The most obvious change is in the centre console where Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system is offered. Depending on which trim level you choose, it’s possible to have an 8.0-inch “floating” touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, plus DAB radio standard across the range.
There are still plenty of small storage areas dotted around, while the comfort and quality has been improved all round with more soft-touch plastics. There's a real sense of extra space up front and definitely more room for adults of an average height behind. The boot has a slightly larger luggage capacity of 292 litres and there’s a wider opening for easier access, though its overall size is still only average for its class.
There's a good range of petrol and diesel engines available for the Ford Fiesta, starting with a 1.1-litre petrol (69bhp or 84bhp) and a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo 'EcoBoost' (99bhp, 123bhp or 138bhp), plus a 1.5-litre TDCi turbo diesel (84bhp or 118bhp).
The fastest is the 138bhp 1.0T EcoBoost petrol which can cover 0-62mph in nine seconds and has a top speed of 125mph. The most frugal is the 84bhp 1.5 TDCi diesel with an official figure of 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 82g/km.
However, the pick of the engines is the punchy 99bhp 1.0-litre turbo EcoBoost petrol which makes the Fiesta nippy around town and yet it's comfortable on longer motorway trips. Capable of an official 65.7mpg (expect below 50mpg in real world driving) and C02 emissions of only 97g/km, it’s a great blend of performance and economy.
As ever, if you spend most of your time travelling long distances on motorways, either of the solid diesel units might make more sense. Depending on which model you go for, the Fiesta is available with either a six-speed automatic or a smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
There are nine trim levels, starting with Style, Zetec, B&O Play Zetec, ST-Line, ST-Line X, Titanium, B&+O Play Titanium, Titanium X and ending with the high-end Vignale, available for the first time on a Fiesta.
If possible, stretch to a mid-range spec or above so that you get an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with fully integrated sat nav (and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity) and other goodies including climate control, cruise control, keyless start, alloy wheels and automatic wipers.
Ford hasn’t forgotten about personalisation either and there are various body colour/roof combinations. Frozen White with a Race Red roof and matching door mirrors is especially eye-catching. Hard to fault the options list - it’s just a shame AEB is not standard across the range.
The Fiesta has always been one of the best handling cars in its class, and I’m pleased to say that the latest version doesn’t disappoint. The standard car is just as much fun to drive as it ever was with an excellent blend of precise steering, agility, great body control and plenty of grip. Happy tootling around or cruising on the motorway, it’s a small car that ticks all the right boxes.
Some may find the ride a bit on the firm side, but that’s a compromise I’m willing to make if it means there’s plenty of driver engagement on more challenging roads. And if you want something sportier, then the ST-line with its lower ride height, stiffer suspension and bigger wheels might be right up your street.
The Ford Fiesta is better than ever. It's bang up to date with all the latest tech in a more sophisticated, stylish, spacious package and still just as much fun to drive.