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Ford Fiesta Mk 7 review (2017-on)

IF THE popularity of the Ford Fiesta is anything to go by, the little car is the equivalent of a two-up, two-down terrace — the backbone of Britain that suits people from all walks of life. This is the car chosen by first-time teenage drivers, mums and dads with kids, those who’ve made it through to the other side of their mid-life crisis and pensioners who hope their Fiesta will see them right until they hang up their driving gloves. Since it was introduced, in 1976, there have been high points and low points.

The last (Mk 6) model[1] was a cracker, but the third generation Fiesta, sold from 1989 to 1997, was about as appreciated as a verruca before a marathon. This is the seventh generation model, which went on sale in July this year tasked with the job of keeping ahead of a chasing pack. It takes a big leap forward, says Ford.

This may be one of the most affordable small cars on the road, but it can park itself, slam on the brakes if a child walks out in front of the car, steer you back into your lane if your attention wanders, respond to spoken commands such as, “I need a coffee,” and stream your tunes through a B&O Play sound system.


Browse NEW[2] or USED[3] cars for sale


The range will be as wide as ever. There are humble petrol and diesel versions, the sporty ST hot hatchback and even a plush version from premium sub-brand Vignale, which comes with all the trimmings. Prices start at ?12,715, for a three-door Style with a 1.1-litre petrol engine, and reach up to ?21,225 for the five-door Vignale with a 1.5-litre diesel motor.

It may be the most popular car in Britain, but the competition has been catching up with Ford’s bread-and-butter hatchback. The Mini and Volkswagen Polo are obvious, established rivals that are seriously good. But also worthy of consideration are the Citroen C3, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Seat Ibiza and Toyota Yaris.

So it’s curious as to why the Fiesta has lost some of its good looks. The last model stood out of the crowd like a pack of Toblerone on a sweet shop’s shelf. But this one seems as bland as a bar chocolate from a supermarket value range.

Ford has previous form in this vein. Remember when it changed from the brilliant Focus MkI to the MkII, which was no more interesting to look at than a cardboard box. And it’s done the same with the latest S-Max.

Inside, the pizzazz is still nowhere to be seen. The interior is smart enough to look at but if you prised off the badge from the steering wheel, bundle in passengers blindfolded, then asked them to guess the car they were sitting in, nobody would know. A Mini driver would think it all rather dreary.

Ford Fiesta review by The Sunday Times Driving (2017 on) There are also some cheap-feeling plastics scattered about the place, which is a dangerous game to play when Korean car makers are lining up to pinch your customers. The seats feel small to the point of being miserly and the touchscreen appears to be facing in the wrong direction – as though it hasn’t been changed from left-hand drive cars.

And if you’re considering the opening panoramic sunroof, a word of warning: the mesh sunblind completely fails to reflect heat on a sunny day, so pack some kind of hat. But that said, and even with the downsized seats, this is a comfortable car. There’s a good driving position, that touchscreen has user-friendly graphics and the much-improved Ford Sync 3 communication system, and the front of the cabin feels relatively spacious.

It’s only when you climb into the back that this feels like a small car. Adults of average height will find their head brushes against the roof while the 292-litre boot is only average for its class.

Mini 5-dr VW Polo Kia Rio Ford Fiesta Citro?n C3 Skoda Fabia Honda Jazz
Boot space (ltr) 278 280 288 292 300 330 350

Arguably the best thing about the Fiesta of late is the way it drives. And this new model is no exception.

It is, by some margin, the best small hatchback for anyone with even a passing interest in getting from A to B with a smile on their face. And even if you don’t count yourself as some sort of motoring enthusiast, you’ll enjoy this car for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.

Driving the Fiesta is like meeting up with your most fun friend for a night on the tiles: you’re guaranteed a great time.

The 1 litre EcoBoost, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine tested here has just 98bhp. This doesn’t bode well.

But in fact it’s a hoot, with enough oomph to make brisk progress, a rorty rasp and good manners on the motorway. There are more powerful versions of this engine, but to be honest, this one — the most affordable one, remember — is enough for most drivers’ needs. And it returned 51mpg in our hands.

As for the rest of its road manners, driving the Fiesta is like meeting up with your most fun friend for a night on the tiles: you’re guaranteed a great time. The way that its steering and suspension work could teach car makers like Ferrari and Porsche a thing or two. There’s a precision and delicacy to it that’s rarely found in cars at any price.

Yet when challenged with a six hour round trip on motorways, the Fiesta feels assured, comfortable and relaxing. Try the same trip in some of its competitors and you’d collapse in a heap at the end of the drive. If the Fiesta were being judged on its driving experience alone, Ford would be assured another smash hit.

But there’s more competition than ever, and it’s getting better all the time.

Some of the fizz that made the last model so bubbly is missing.

Time will tell if Ford still understands buyers of small cars better than its rivals.

References

  1. ^ last (Mk 6) model (www.driving.co.uk)
  2. ^ New cars for sale (www.driving.co.uk)
  3. ^ Used cars for sale (www.driving.co.uk)

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