Security Alert: Beware of Fraudulent Website Close

Ford Fiesta hatchback (2008 – ) expert review

By Ivan Aistrop, 10th April 2014

The verdict

The Ford Fiesta is a class-leading supermini boasting fine handling, good looks and decent practicality. It is very hard to fault this popular model.

Interested in this car?

View new Find used

Expert rating:

4.6

Pros

  • Stylish interior and exterior design
  • Superb car to drive
  • Cheap to run

Cons

  • You won’t stand out from the crowd
  • More expensive than many rivals
  • Some rivals are more practical

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Fiesta looks dashing with the unmistakeable Ford face. Even the most basic models are attractive, but the car’s looks are improved immeasurably by specifying alloy wheels, which are fitted as standard on more expensive models. Three and five-door models are available, with Zetec S models coming with a discreet bodykit and larger alloy wheels. The ST hot hatch versions are sportier still, and look super-sharp.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

Ford has made a real effort with the Fiesta’s cabin, and although it lags behind the Volkswagen Polo for sheer quality, it’s still a very pleasant place to be. The Ford gets good-looking features made of good-quality materials, which create a reasonably upmarket feel. The centre console has a particularly bold arrangement, with the switches and buttons looking similar to a mobile phone. A couple of dials and buttons control the ventilation system, and the steering wheel has controls for the audio system on the majority of models. Most of the plastics you touch in everyday use are high quality and tactile, but things are not so impressive lower down: throughout the cabin (especially on the doors and centre console) there are some scratchy, low-rent materials.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

With a capacity of 295 litres, the Fiesta’s boot is competitive by supermini standards, if not class-leading. There’s ample room in the back for two adults, making the Fiesta practical enough to be a small family’s one car, but access is much easier in the five-door model. All-round vision is good, too, although the thick windscreen pillars limit forward visibility a little. That said, the car’s precise steering ensures parking is fairly simple, but parking sensors or the rear view mirror-mounted parking camera are worth considering as options.

Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

Whichever model you’re looking at, the Ford Fiesta is a superb driver’s car. Precise steering and well configured suspension mean it’s a joy to thread through bends, but this excitement doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort – the suspension soaks up the worst bumps and the ride never becomes fidgety. Overall, the Fiesta is a very mature car, and despite the compact dimensions that make it an ideal car for the urban grind, it is still perfectly stable and composed at speed on the motorway. The ST, meanwhile, is the daddy of the small hot hatches. The ride’s a wee bit firm, but you expect that in a hot hatch, and its incredible sharpness and responsiveness will light up any B-road.

Our rating: 5

5. Performance

A pair of 1.25-litre petrol engines are the first steps on the ladder, providing 59 and 81bhp. However, despite the stronger model shaving 3.6 seconds off the other’s 16.9 second 0-62mph time, both will find themselves wanting on motorway drives. The best engine in the range is the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit. Available with either 99 or 123bhp, it pulls strongly in a very un-petrol-like way from below 2000rpm, so it takes little effort to get the car moving at a good pace. Diesel options comprise a 1.5 with 74bhp and a 1.6, which produces 94bhp and is available in Econetic form, with average economy of 85.6mpg. The 1.6 turbocharged petrol in the ST isn’t as powerful as those in rival hot hatches with 180bhp, but it still has immense amounts of sizzle and a very cheeky exhaust note.

Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

Prices aren’t cheap, and Ford’s residual values aren’t the strongest, but the brand’s willingness to offer huge discounts will more than make up for that, making this an affordable car overall. In the past, you would have had to choose an Econetic model to ensure the lowest running costs, but such is the pace of change that the majority of Fiesta models – petrol and diesel – have CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. All of these have average economy of more than 60mpg, with the most frugal (the Econetic) managing to eke more than 85 miles from a gallon of diesel. All this equates to low tax rates for both private and company car drivers, while some of the safety features (see below) qualify for lower ratings with some insurers.

Our rating: 5

7. Reliability

We haven’t heard any horror stories from Fiesta buyers concerning common faults, and the car has performed well in customer satisfaction surveys and reliability studies. For example, Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index places the Fiesta near the top of the scale for dependability. That sort of performance should provide buyers with plenty of confidence.

Our rating: 5

8. Safety

The Fiesta received a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, but the real headline-grabbers are the bits and pieces that are available on top of the seven airbags that come as standard on every model. This includes Active City Stop – which helps drivers avoid low-speed collisions – and Emergency Assistance, which forms part of the SYNC system. Also available is MyKey, a system that allows several keys to operate the car, but with various settings (such as the car’s maximum speed, the volume of the stereo and so on) uniquely programmed to each key by the owner. This lets parents, for example, reduce the dangers faced by teenagers at the wheel.

Our rating: 5

9. Equipment

The Fiesta is available in very wide range of trims. Studio covers the basics, but little more, with Ford Easy Fuel (which prevents misfuelling), MP3-compatible CD player with aux and USB connections, front electric windows, electric mirrors and a 60:40 folding rear seat. Style adds remote locking, air-conditioning and a more adjustable driver’s seat, while Zetec models come with 15-inch alloys and a Quick Clear heated windscreen, and Zetec S adds a bodykit, 16-inch alloys, sports seats and sports suspension. More luxurious is the Titanium with its power folding mirrors, chrome exterior trim, automatic wipers, digital radio, automatic air-con and cruise control, while range-topping Titanium X models feature keyless entry and part-leather upholstery.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The Ford Fiesta is very well built and good to look at, so there’s no surprise it is consistently one of Britain’s best-selling cars. Throw in the fact that it’s also cheap to run and exceptionally good to drive, and the Fiesta should certainly be on any supermini buyer’s shortlist.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.6stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling5
  • Performance4
  • Running costs5
  • Reliability5
  • Safety5
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Pick of the range

Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 100 Zetec 5dr

Provides everything you need from your Fiesta, for a reasonable price

Most Economical

Fiesta 1.6 TDCI 95 Zetec Econetic 5dr

This eco-special still has a strong, refined engine

Best Avoided

Fiesta 1.6 105 Powershift Titanium 3dr

This engine and gearbox combo gives poor economy and strangled performance

For us, the 99bhp Ecoboost engine provides everything you need – it’s perky, refined and very efficient. Zetec is our favourite trim thanks to its good looks and competitive luxury kit.