Small car buyers simply can’t ignore this Fiesta

FORD’S Fiesta is, once more, a real state of the art supermini.

With 12 million Ford Fiestas already sold across the world, the latest model has a lot to live up to and it’s been carefully designed to succeed.

It’s lighter, yet stiffer, greener and cheaper to run. It’s also safer and better to drive even than thenMazda2 supermini with which it shares a common platform.

So, climb in: what’s the experience like? Well, the first thing that you’ll probably notice is that there’s nowhere to put your key, Ford having switched to one of those trendy (but rather pointless) ‘Power’ buttons which you press to start. It’s easier to get comfortable at the wheel than it was in the old car thanks to the improved seating and rake/reach wheel adjustment.

Peace of mind comes with the news that this was the first Ford small car to feature a driver’s knee airbag, along with side airbags and optional curtain airbags.

Engine choices start with the familiar 1.25 and 1.4-litre Duratec petrol units.

Also available is the old and frugal, if rather leisurely, 69bhp 1.4-litre TDCi. Above this level, things start to get a bit more interesting.

The 94bhp 1.6-litre TDCi Duratorq engine can be ordered in ECOnetic form emitting just 98g/km of CO2. At the other end of the scale, Ford is keen to reassure driving enthusiasts that it hasn’t forgotten them either, with the 119bhp 1.6-litre T-VCT petrol powerplant that makes 60mph in 9.9s, used in plusher models that include the sporty Zetec-S.

All Ford’s Fiesta models now have ESP stability control as standard which is a very welcome addition to the range.

Prices are a little on the expensive side these days but buyers can console themselves with generous specifications and the knowledge they’re getting one of the best superminis around.

Trim levels start with Studio, rising through Edge to the low running cost-ECOnetic model.

Zetec is a popular choice, while the 3-door-only Zetec-S adds yet more sporty flavour, offered either with 1.6-litre TDCi diesel power or the 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT petrol unit.

At the top of the range, Titanium variants are specced up like Christmas trees but retail at the kind of money which would buy you a significantly larger car. Less, as so often, is more.

Anyway, even entry-level Fiestas come with ESP, ABS, front, side and knee airbags, a CD player with controls on the steering wheel, central locking and electric heated mirrors.

There are nice touches too: we particularly liked the EasyFuel cap-less refuelling system.

The Ford Fiesta has garnered a reputation for being one of the cheapest superminis to run and this continues.

Ford reckons that the improvements in efficiency made across the range will save owners of 1.4 TDCi models, as just one example, around a thankful of fuel a year (45 litres over 9,300 miles).

The ECOnetic will grab the headlines with its 98g/km emissions and 76mpg economy but even the standard 1.6 TDCi manages 107g/km and 67mpg while the 81bhp 1.25-litre petrol returns 50mpg with 129g/km emissions.

This Fiesta may not be the largest car in the supermini sector but on just about every other main criteria, it’s either up there or class-leading.

It at last has cutting edge looks and a decent cabin, plus the ECOnetic version shows other makers how green a compact yet practical runabout like this can be.

Overall, a pragmatic mix between tried and tested elements that are cost effective and shiny new details that gel extremely well. Small car buyers simply can’t ignore this car.