The Ford Fiesta has been one of Britain’s favourite small hatchbacks since it launched in the 1970s. Since then, each subsequent model in the supermini range has got bigger, more powerful and more comfortable.

Affordable purchase prices, low running costs, a big network of Ford dealers and nippy performance means the Fiesta appeals to all, from learner drivers to families.

Many different versions have been built, but they all have either been in three- or five-door hatchback configurations.

Ford Fiesta (2002-2008) used car guide• A wide range of models available, including Zetec, ST and two diesel engines
• Small family hatchback
• Three- or five-door bodystyles
• Wide range of economical petrol and excellent diesel engines
• Plenty of special editions with lots of extra equipment
• Several thousand Ford dealers makes servicing simple
• Basic, straightforward technology means there’s little to go wrong
• Fiesta ST and Zetec S performance hatchbacks are entertaining to drive

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale

Price range – £1,500 – £8,000

Pros

• Huge choice of used examples available
• Fun to drive
• Excellent space inside
• Cheap to run and maintain
• Diesel engines can cover more than 60 miles per gallon
• Low insurance costs for small-engined models

Cons

• Many are neglected by speed-loving youngsters
• Smaller engines can struggle at motorway speeds
• Firm suspension means long distances can become uncomfortable
• Interior trim feels a bit cheap, although it is well built
• Basic models lacked air-con and electric windows
• Optional coloured dashboards are not to every driver’s taste

Who’s it good for?

• Young drivers
• Families
• Cost-conscious motorists

Full gallery: Ford Fiesta (2002-2008)

Ford Fiesta (2002-2008) used car guide

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale

Model highlights

Best for fuel costs – The 1.4 TDCI diesel engine can return 64.2 miles per gallon, around 1.5mpg more than the 1.6 TDCI

Best value – The 1.4 Zetec model offers a low purchase price, good running costs and plenty of equipment, including air-conditioning on many models

Most reliable – All models are generally reliable, but ensure petrol engines have had regular oil changes

Fastest – The Fiesta ST sports a 2-litre engine and offers sportscar-like performance

Best for families – The 1.4 Zetec offers a balance of good equipment levels and low costs

Best for short distances – The 1.25-litre petrol engine in Zetec trim is nippy and some came with air-conditioning as standard

Best for long distances The 1.6 TDCI diesel engine is a relaxed motorway cruiser; the Ghia model, and certain special editions feature air-conditioning as standard

Engine overview:

Petrol engines:
• 1.25 (75bhp/45.6mpg) – Nippy around town, but not suited to long motorway journeys
• 1.3 (68bhp/45.6mpg) – Slow, noisy and thirsty and replaced by the better 1.25 engine
• 1.4 (80bhp/44.1mpg) – Excellent all-rounder, but fast driving with passengers and luggage can be tiring
• 1.6 (100bhp/37.7mpg) – Good at motorway speeds, but the diesels give better fuel economy
• 2.0 (150bhp/38.2mpg – Fast and fun, but fuel economy suffers

Diesel engines:
• 1.4 (69bhp/64.2mpg) – The pick of the bunch for most kinds of driving
• 1.6 (90bhp/62.8mpg) – Best for longer, motorway driving

Standard features

The models in the range, and the key standard equipment they feature:

Finesse – power steering, central locking, immobiliser, driver and passenger airbags, CD player, tinted glass
LX – As Finesse plus electric front windows, remote central locking, electric heated mirrors (1.4 LX has air-conditioning)
Zetec – As Finesse plus 15-inch alloys wheels, front fog lamps
Ghia – As Zetec plus ABS, alarm, 14-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning

Models 2005-onwards

Studio – power steering, remote central locking, radio/cassette player, immobiliser, airbags, ABS
Style – As Studio plus electric front windows, CD player
Style Climate – As Style plus air-conditioning
Zetec – As Style plus alloy wheels
Zetec Climate – As Zetec plus air-conditioning
Zetec S – As Zetec plus larger alloy wheels, mesh grille, alarm
Ghia – As Zetec plus electric heated mirrors, air-conditioning
ST – 17-inch alloy wheels, half leather sports seats, sports gearbox, air-conditioning, 6-CD autochanger

Special editions

Firefly – 15-inch alloy wheels, radio/CD player, leather steering wheel
Black – metallic black paint, chrome grille, front fog lights, air-conditioning, silver instrument trim
Flame – black mesh grille, electric heated mirrors, heated front windscreen, leather steering wheel
Silver – steering wheel-mounted audio controls, black mesh radiator grille with chrome surround, front fog lamps, tinted glass, air-conditioning, leather interior, 16-inch alloy wheels
Freedom – Bluetooth telephone connectivity, auxiliary audio input socket, electric heated mirrors, roof spoiler
Zetec Blue – as Zetec S plus steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auxiliary audio input socket, bespoke upholstery
Zetec S Red – as Zetec S plus chequered flag roof, auxiliary audio input socket, sports front bumper, air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels
Zetec S 30th Anniversary – as Zetec S plus leather upholstery, chequered flag roof, auxiliary audio input socket, sports front bumper, air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels
Zetec S Celebration – as Zetec S plus leather upholstery, chequered flag roof, auxiliary audio input socket, sports front bumper, air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels
ST 500 – as ST plus 17-inch graphite alloy wheels, body graphics, leather upholstery

Buyers’ checks

These are common problems with the 2002-2008 Ford Fiesta you should be aware of before you inspect the car.

• Check the carpets in the cabin and boot for signs of dampness which could cause rust
• Make sure the airbag warning lights illuminate when the car is started, but turn off after a few seconds – faulty sensors can cause the lights to flash intermittently
• Make sure the petrol engines have had regular oil changes at least every 10,000 miles – if not, it could promote premature engine wear
• Diesel engines are prone to problems with the injector seals – check for an excessive smell of diesel or sputtering when the car is ticking over. It will cost between £350 to £900 to rectify
• Check the service history for records of a cambelt change – Ford recommend a new belt every 10 years/100,000 miles (150,000 miles for a diesel) but it’s advisable for them to be changed every 50,000 miles or 5 years
• Ensure automatic gearboxes change gear quietly and smoothly – they can be complex and particularly costly to fix
• Water pumps are a known problem, so listen to whining or knocking noises when the engine is ticking over – stronger replacements are around £90
• Check ST models for irregular tyre wear which can point to misaligned steering, which is usually a simple job. Once the engine is warm, turn it off and restart – rough running can mean it needs an engine software upgrade

For more general information, visit Inspecting a Used Car

Recalls

Occasionally car makers may recall certain models if manufacturing faults or defects could give rise to a serious problem.

Owners will be contacted to have the work completed free-of-charge, but used car buyers should always check the work has been carried out by contacting the local main dealer.

07/03/2003    Weld seam on rear axle is not to specification
11/04/2005    Fuel return pipe leak
06/08/2007    Potential loss of steering control
28/11/2007    Power steering may be lost

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale

Safety

The 2002-2008 Ford Fiesta scored very highly in the EuroNCAP crash tests.

• Adult occupant protection: 4/5
• Child occupant protection: N/A
• Pedestrian protection 2/4

Safety equipment highlights:

• Anti-lock brakes
• Electronic brake force distribution
• Driver and passenger airbags
• Front and rear door side impact beams

Running costs

Model: Fiesta 1.25 Style

• Fuel economy: 47.1mpg
• CO2 emissions: 142g/km
• Insurance group ratings: 8E

Model: Fiesta 1.4 TDCI Zetec

• Fuel economy: 62.8mpg
• CO2 emissions: 119g/km
• Insurance group ratings: 10E

Rivals

Citroen C3
Peugeot 206
Toyota Yaris
Vauxhall Corsa
Volkswagen Polo