Ford Fiesta: road test

Posted on August 22nd, 2017 by James Luckhurst

Ford has done a great job of making a good car even better

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What is it?
The new Ford Fiesta is the seventh generation of a car that has been a British favourite for over 40 years, and best-selling model for the past eight years.

How safe is it?
As safe as any car of a similar size, with a range of advanced technologies to help prevent accidents and to protect occupants if one happens.

Who should buy one?
Anyone. The Fiesta’s enduring success has been built on its wide appeal as a capable, friendly driving compact hatchback, and this new one is the best yet.

Road test by Sue Baker, August 2017

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE

It’s a measure of how successful the Fiesta is for Ford that 120,000 were sold in Britain last year, and a lot of that has always been about the way the car drives. The new Fiesta has changed significantly, with some 2,500 altered components and only about 200 left unaltered, with the emphasis on further improving an already good car.

So how does it drive? Very well indeed, with excellent driver engagement and very civilised road manners for a relatively modestly priced and smallish car. It is impressively smooth and civilised, and feels engineered to a high standard. Its handling feel is very good indeed, with a poise and assurance on the bends that makes it very enjoyable to drive. Unlike some cars though, this isn’t at the expense of ride quality. It rides the bumps with a supple absorbency.

The new Fiesta’s electric steering system doesn’t give it as endearingly pert and pointy a feel as the previous model. But it is still decently communicative and as tactile as any of its rivals’.

There are two diesel engines with either 84 or 118bhp, while there are four petrol engines with outputs ranging from 69 up to 123bhp. The little 1.0-litre, 99bhp, three-cylinder petrol in our test car is the peach of the range. This is the engine that has just won an international engine of the year award for the sixth year in a row. It has a distinctive sound that adds a bit of character, but more importantly it has a flexibility that suits the car and makes it fun to drive.

Push it hard, and you’re aware of the engine working busily away. Under typical normal driving, though, the car’s general refinement is very good, with minimal wind noise and not much awareness of road rumble fed up through the suspension. For all-round driving behaviour, the Fiesta is about as good as it gets in this size of car.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY

This Fiesta has grown a bit bigger than its predecessor. It is 71mm longer, 12mm wider, and has had a 4mm increase in its wheelbase. This, together with slimmer front seats, has allowed an extra 16mm of legroom to be shoehorned into the cabin. So it feels a bit less tight for space than the old Fiesta. There’s certainly a bit more elbow room in the front, and the spacious feel is helped by the substantial redesign of the dash, doing away with that slightly oppressive old-style mobile phone-inspired centre stack.

Six footers can sit in the back, although given the Fiesta’s overall size it’s pretty snug for tall passengers, and it’s a tight squeeze for three across the rear seats. It’s manageable, though, to travel five-up, all adults, for a reasonable length of journey. Boot space is similar to the outgoing Fiesta at around 290 litres, extendable to nearly 1,100 litres by folding down the rear seats.

SAFETY

Ford is calling this the most technologically advanced small car on sale in Europe, and it has 15 key safety-orientated driver assistance features. One of these, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, gives the driver advance warning of anyone who is in or near the road ahead, which is especially helpful in preventing collisions at night. Other notable safety aids include blind spot alert, cross traffic alert, lane keeping aid and warning, and forward collision warning.

EQUIPMENT

The new Fiesta has a 4.2-inch touchscreen in base models and high up the range an eight-inch, tablet-style touchscreen that can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures. It features Ford’s latest Sync 3 communications and entertainment system which has one of the fastest mobile phone hook-ups currently available. Active parking assistance is a new feature for the Fiesta, including perpendicular parking and brake intervention if you don’t react quickly enough as the car manoeuvres itself.

COSTS

Pricing for this new generation Fiesta starts from £12,715 for the base-level Style. The popular Titanium trim begins at £16,145 and well-equipped Titanium X from £17,495 including heated from seats and a high-grade audio system. The flagship of the range is the top-spec Vignale at £19,345. Carbon dioxide (CO2) outputs across the range vary from 82 to 118g/km, and fuel economy from 54.3to 88.3 mpg on the combined cycle.

WE SAY Ford has done a great job of making a good car even better

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £14,795
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg combined
Insurance: 7
Tax: £120 first year, then £140 standard

Figures for the Fiesta Zetec 1.0 Ecoboost

About 

James Luckhurst has been editor of GEM's quarterly magazine, Good Motoring, since 2006. Previously he worked at the BBC World Service and was a freelance contributor to the Daily Telegraph (where he had a weekly column), the Sunday Times, the Daily and Sunday Express and the Herald. His interest in road safety and driver behaviour has led to his involvement in a number of television and radio programmes, including So You Think You're a Good Driver for BBC1, where he was associate producer, Kerbside Justice for Granada Television, which he presented and occasional items for Radio 4, BFBS and the BBC World Service.