Ford Fiesta hatchback (2008 – ) expert review
Read the Ford Fiesta hatchback (2008 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
- Stylish interior and exterior design
- Superb car to drive
- Cheap to run
- You won’t stand out from the crowd
- More expensive than many rivals
- Some rivals are more practical
At a glance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.