Ford's Fiesta has always been a key model in the supermini sector but the latest car is aiming to put rivals well and truly in the shade. June Neary takes a look.
Will It Suit Me?
You must have heard of Ford's Fiesta. Women like me and family people up and down the country depend on it. It's been right up amongst the most popular small cars in the UK ever since the launch of the original version way back in 1976 (yes, it was that long ago).
Needless to say, Ford's finest has changed massively down the years but rarely, if ever, has the model line made as significant a step forward as the one that has taken place throughout the lifetime of the current seventh generation model which now has segment leading technology and Ford's clever three cylinder EcoBoost engines. Today's Fiesta is a massively important car for Ford and nothing has been left to chance in ensuring it hits the spot with its target market.
As target markets go, the Fiesta's is a massive one. This is a small car that needs to appeal across the board to people from all sections of society. First impressions are that it stands a good chance of pulling this off. The car uses the Kinetic design features that have cropped up to critical acclaim across the Ford model range but to you and me, it just looks angular, sporty and well planted on the road. Looking good is half the battle in the supermini sector and the Fiesta certainly manages to do that.
The interior reprises the edgy and angular themes of the outside, the fascia contrasting soft-touch materials with hard silvery plastics. The car feels modern and is very nicely executed in terms of quality with a pronounced modern feel. The wedge-effect of the Fiesta in profile doesn't bode well for the rear seat passengers in the three-door car but the car surprises with decent legroom and headroom that's manageable even for a six-footer.
The windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant in the back which might trouble some kids but the shopping bags, coats and road atlases that owners will store there most of the time won't be overly worried. The five door models fare better with a bigger glass area creating a roomier feel and all derivatives share the same easily navigable control system for their various electronic functions.
General build quality is a real eye-opener. The Fiesta feels like a far more sophisticated and grown-up car than the models which preceded it and a lot of this is down to the all-round quality of the materials, as well as the solidity with which they knit together.
Behind the Wheel
Despite the fact that it's lighter than previous generation models, today's Fiesta manages to feel larger and more solid on the road - an impressive achievement by Ford's engineers. Electrically assisted power steering made its debut on the MK7 Fiesta and while this may have enthusiasts groaning, the technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, the feeling no longer being as if you were at the wheel of a PlayStation game. We particularly liked the 'Stall Prevention' feature, designed to help in low speed manoeuvres by altering the engine's ignition profile and preventing that embarrassing stalling moment when there's a queue of traffic behind you.
Engine choices start with the familiar 1.25-litre 60 and 82PS Duratec petrol units but it's better if you can to graduate up to the far more modern three cylinder 1.0-litre petrol powerplants, offered in 80, 100 and 125PS forms. The latter two have EcoBoost turbos and it's the 100PS variant I tried that's the pick of the range. Diesel drivers get a choice of 1.5 or 1.6-litre TDCi units.
Value For Money
Like most superminis, this Fiesta sells in the £10,000 to £18,000 bracket - and there's a pretty typical £600 premium if you want to progress from the three-door to the five-door bodystyle.
I'd want to allow a bit extra for the clever options though. One intriguing innovation is MyKey, a segment-first technology feature that allows parents to pre-programme a maximum speed and even the stereo volume if they lend the car to a young driver or a friend. Plus it prevents the driver from deactivating safety technologies such as Electronic Stability Control and the Active City Stop low-speed collision avoidance system. It can even the cap the volume level of the stereo in order to encourage safer driving. Neat.
Another interesting innovation is SYNC, an in-car connectivity system that features Emergency Assistance that directly connects the vehicle occupants to local emergency services operators after an accident. It can do so in the correct language for the region whilst continuing to liaise with the driver in English.
Could I Live With One?
The latest version of this Ford Fiesta is a thoroughly impressive car with very few discernable flaws. Ford as elevated its supermini stalwart to a level where it's a prime target for rival manufacturers developing their own new products. Good luck to them in trying to beat this one.