Behind the wheel at last of Ford’s new Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta has, for years, been Britain’s best-selling car. Replacing it is a tough gig indeed, but at last, it’s here. Ford’s upped the quality, improved the refinement and, encouragingly, says it rides and handles better than ever. Given how a standout of the old car was its brilliant drive, this is encouraging stuff.
There’s also more technology; infotainment has made a massive step on after the flawed system of the old model, and new driver assistance technology such as Pedestrian Detection are worthy additions. It’s even reduced the button count.
Suspension has been overhauled, the body is stiffer which gives it better integrity, and interior space has improved, albeit modestly. The Fiesta has always been a bit of a compact supermini, and this new one continues that; length is up just 71mm, width by 13mm. Who says new cars always have to massively grow?
Ford Fiesta ST-Line X 5-door 1.0T Ecoboost
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 125 mph
CO2 emissions: 102g/km
We drove the expected best-seller, Ford’s 1.0-litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine, in potent 138bhp guise. It’s a beautiful engine, with classy manners, decent acceleration and total smoothness even near the redline. It’s complemented by a brilliant gearbox, which is lucky, given the need to use it often to keep the fizzy little motor on the boil.
Our test Fiesta was an ST-Line model, which Ford says sits half way between the luxurious new Fiesta Vignale and the sporty range-topping ST. It feels like a half-way house, in a good way: handling is tidy but the ride quality is still capable and just the right side of comfortable.
Grip is improved, and aided by a discreet torque vectoring system that helps the front-end tuck into corners better. Meanwhile, over long distances, the Fiesta demonstrates the perfect blend of calm refinement with just enough incisiveness to keep it entertaining when the roads get twisty. As for overall refinement, the only grumble was a little bit of wind noise around the windscreen pillars.
It’s not perfect, though. We said it hasn’t grown all that much, and this shows through in the rear seats: space there remains tight by class standards, and there are rivals with bigger boots as well. At least the driving position is closer than ever to perfection, and the overall quality of the interior is an equally big jump on.
This higher-spec Fiesta faces some stiff competition the Seat Ibiza 1.4 FR is similarly able, but has more kit, more space and more power. If space is everything, you’ll be amazed to discover a 1.5-litre Vauxhall Insignia estate costs not much more than the Fiesta. The competition is thus tough. But the new Fiesta is good enough to handle it – and in more real-world specs, it may undoubtedly prove to still be the best in its class.