Ford Fiesta hatchback

The latest Ford Fiesta doesn't look that different from the old one, which it recently replaced. Given there wasn't much wrong with that car, a model that had been on sale for eight years, this is perhaps unsurprising. After all, Ford wouldn't want anything too radical sending disillusioned buyers into the arms of rivals such as the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo.

   

Driver appeal was something the old Fiesta excelled at and with talented rivals such as the SEAT Ibiza, Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 breathing down its neck, the new one couldn't afford to drop this particular ball, either. At the same time, more than ever before supermini buyers want to have their cake and eat it: a small, economical car that's also comfortable, well built and stuffed with the latest technology. It helps that the latest Fiesta delivers on these fronts, too.

   

It looks very similar to the model it replaces, but look harder and you'll notice this Fiesta is actually bigger where it counts. In fact, it's longer, which has allowed the designers to increase passenger space in the back. At the same time, subtle styling details distinguish trim levels from one another.

   

Some things never change, though, and just like before, the Fiesta range starts with Style before moving to Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line and high-end Vignale. Titanium versions have a front bumper that Ford says is intended to be friendlier and more optimistic-looking. A smart touch is its pair of vertical foglights. As its name suggests, the ST-Line has a sporty bias, courtesy of slightly stiffer suspension and a bodykit. It's not expensive to run, though, and we've found its suspension still provides plenty of comfort.

   

For luxury seekers, there's the Fiesta Vignale with optional 18-inch alloy wheels (17-inch alloys are standard) and, inside, hexagonally quilted leather upholstery. These features put in contention with a MINI hatchback or Audi A1, but also make it too expensive to represent the sweet spot in the range; the overall interior quality is good but not on par with more upmarket superminis, while its design doesn't quite match up to the more sophisticated offerings of its rivals.

   

The Fiesta Active, meanwhile, blends SUV elements - a raised ride height, body protection and roof rails - with low supermini running costs and easy driving manners. And performance enthusiasts will be excited at the prospect of a new Fiesta ST.

   

While a 197bhp version of the EcoBoost three-cylinder petrol engine is expected for the ST, the regular Fiesta line-up still offers a fair spread of engine types and power outputs. There are only petrol and diesel choices for the moment, though, with no hybrid or electric version yet announced. Petrol engines include Ford's turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost in 99, 123 and 138bhp outputs, the latter good for a nine-second 0-62mph time. A non-turbocharged 1.1-litre entry-level engine is also available, producing 69 or 84bhp.

   

Diesel fans can choose from two versions of Ford's four-cylinder 1.5-litre TDCi engine. The 84bhp version is claimed to return up to 88.6mpg, with the 118bhp version not too far behind at 80.7mpg. CO2 emissions are impressively low, too - 89g/km for the most powerful version results in a 20% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rating for business users. No matter which engine you choose, though, the Fiesta is a pleasure to drive, either on a long motorway trip or a challenging country road.

 

 

The mechanical package stacks up well and Ford has clearly taken the latest Fiesta's inside story seriously, too, with an interior feel that comes close to matching the very best in its class. The cleanly styled dashboard is made from high-quality, tactile materials and everything feels superbly put together. The Fiesta's connectivity and infotainment systems are now better than ever, too - gone is the rather dated mobile-phone-style button pad below the previous rather cramped infotainment display; a 'floating' tablet-style screen takes its place with Ford's clever SYNC 3 system on most models. This brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, while top models now get a classy-looking eight-inch touchscreen and sat nav.

   

Every model features lane-departure warning and assistance, a sign of Ford's big push on safety. It's a shame that so much of the Fiesta's most advanced safety equipment is optional at extra cost, though. You can add automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and active parking assistance that can apply the brakes if needs be. Blind-spot monitoring, as well as traffic-sign recognition and auto-dipping headlights.

 

 

A glance at the price list shows that the most lavishly equipped models are rather expensive, but when you realise the mid-range version has all the must-have features, Fiesta value-for-money looks pretty good. And while economy, practicality and quality have all improved, the car's fun-loving character has been kept intact. Now Ford has completed the package with a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test verdict, the Fiesta is a tough supermini to beat.

MPG, running costs & CO2 5 / 5 The latest Ford Fiesta is one of the most economical superminis you can buy

Engines, drive & performance 5 / 5 Strong engines and terrific handling make the Ford Fiesta a blast to drive

Interior & comfort 4.5 / 5 The Ford Fiesta has a stylish interior that almost matches the best in class for quality

Practicality & boot space 4.5 / 5 A boost in rear-seat space makes the Ford Fiesta more practical than ever

Reliability & safety 4 / 5 There's a long list of clever safety equipment available on the Ford Fiesta, but much of it costs extra

Did you find this guide helpful?