Ford Fiesta Review (2008-2017)
The 2008-2017 Ford Fiesta is one of the best used small cars you can buy, offering a great drive and excellent value for money.
Published: 9 December 2022
If you’re looking for a small, cost-effective used car you might think you have to make a few compromises but with the 2008-2017 Ford Fiesta there are really very few. It’s remarkably comfortable and enjoyable to drive for a small, inexpensive hatchback and there’s a version to suit just about any taste, with basic, low-cost models at one end of the range and some sporty and luxurious versions at the other. Some rival cars have a glitzier, more roomy interior but none can match the Fiesta’s mix of value and driving appeal.
- Comfortable and fun to drive
- Low running costs
- Wide range of models
- Dash is a bit fiddly
- Rear legroom is tight
- Basic equipment on low-cost models
Dashboard & tech
You can get some surprisingly up-to-date tech in the 2008-2017 Fiesta, although the dashboard does look a bit dated. Most functions are controlled through the centre display. It’s small and basic when compared with the latest models and it’s not a touchscreen – you control it using small buttons next to the screen. It can feel fiddly at first, but you soon get used to it.
When new, the Fiesta was at or near the top of the class for high-tech features. Most models have DAB radio and a USB input and you’ll find steering wheel controls on most models, allowing you to do things like change the music source or volume without taking your hands off the wheel. Many Fiesta models also come with voice control, so you can speak simple commands such as ‘temperature’ or ‘radio’ and then a number and the car will make your changes for you.
You sit quite high in the Fiesta, which won’t suit everyone but it does help to give you a good view forwards. The front seats are supportive and one thing you notice is how well placed the gearstick and pedals are and how smoothly they operate. It makes the Fiesta a particularly easy car to drive, and helps to keep you free from aches and pains on a long journey.
The rear windows are small but the Fiesta is easy to park. Some models have rear parking sensors and later high-spec models even have a rear-view camera.
One thing that the Fiesta offers which you won’t find on most rival cars is a ‘Quickclear’ heated front windscreen that works in the same way as the heated rear window in most cars. It was fitted as standard to many versions and it can be a real time-saver on frosty winter mornings.
The parts you interact with most in the Fiesta (steering wheel, indicator stalk, heater controls, etc) have a pleasant feel, but some of the plastics have a pretty basic appearance. An equivalent Volkswagen Golf or Mini feels more premium inside. Newer and higher-spec Fiesta models have extra features and different materials that make them feel a bit more special inside, but even the oldest and most cost-effective versions feel solid and durable.
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Practicality & boot space
The Fiesta gives you roughly the same amount of interior space as cars such as a Vauxhall Corsa or a Volkswagen Polo of a similar age. Headroom in the front could be an issue if you’re particularly tall (because of the high seating position), but there’s room for four average-size adults (five is a real squeeze), so you could use it as a family car. There are two sets of Isofix mounts on the back seat, but installing a child seat can be tricky because there’s not much space to work in, especially in three-door models.
Interior storage amounts to a reasonably large glovebox and door bins, trays in front of the gearstick and behind the handbrake, and a pair of cupholders in the centre console. Some models have an armrest between the front seats that lifts up to reveal a small cubby hole.
By the standards of 2008 when it was introduced, the Fiesta’s boot capacity of 290 litres is a good size, although it’s less than you get in many of the latest small hatchbacks. There’s enough space to accommodate weekly food shopping and weekends away, but not much more.
Loading larger items can be tricky because the boot opening is quite small and oddly shaped; many rivals have bigger, squarer openings.
The Fiesta’s back seats fold down in two parts to create 974 litres of space, which is useful if you need to carry a lot of stuff. But the fact the back seats don’t fold completely flat and the boot’s relatively small opening can make it difficult to load anything particularly bulky.
The Fiesta can be enormous fun to drive, whether you’re in an entry-point model or the high-performance ST. It feels light and agile, the steering is responsive, it rides over bumps and through holes almost as if they’re not there, and it has a way of making you feel really involved in the process.
You don’t have to be a ‘driving enthusiast’ to appreciate all of this, either. However you regard driving, getting behind the wheel of a Fiesta is always a genuine pleasure, whether you’re popping out to the shops or heading off on a cross-country trek to somewhere hundreds of miles away. It gives you a real sense of confidence and it’s a doddle to drive around town and to slot into and out of parking spaces.
The Fiesta is available with a wide variety of petrol and diesel engines, giving you performance that ranges from ‘just enough’ to ‘wow, this is quick’. The lower-powered petrol models are fairly slow, with enough zip for town driving but not a lot of oomph when you want to overtake on a country road or keep up with outside-lane traffic on the motorway. Go for one of the mid-range models and there’s enough pace to keep most drivers happy.
If you want the quickest Fiesta, head straight for the ST – it has a 2.0-litre engine that gives it acceleration to match some much larger cars.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
This generation of Fiesta can give you excellent fuel economy. According to the official figures, petrol engines give you an average of 46mpg to 65mpg. Diesel models can give you an average economy from 67mpg to 88mpg, which puts them among the most efficient diesel cars you can get.
Those mpg numbers correspond to low carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Petrol models emit 99g/km to 140g/km and diesels emit 82g/km to 110g/km, which translates to low annual car tax rates.
Value for money
This generation of Ford Fiesta was the UK’s best-selling car every year from 2009 to 2017 and it’s now one of the most popular used cars. That level of demand means the Fiesta can cost a bit more than some of its rivals, but it’s still very good value and there are so many available that you should be able to find one that suits your budget.
Reliability & Warranty
Ford has a reputation for making dependable cars and is frequently well-rated in owner satisfaction surveys. This generation of Fiesta has proven to be very reliable in general. The most recent examples, sold in 2017, are too old to still be covered by the manufacturer’s three-year warranty.
Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded a full five-star safety rating to the Fiesta in 2012, giving it high marks for protecting both adult and child passengers in the event of a crash. Because it dates from the early 2000s, it doesn’t have the advanced driver-safety features you’ll find in the latest small cars – like automatic emergency braking. However, all models have anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control, which help keep you safe in an emergency. There’s also lots of airbags – models sold after 2012 have front, knee, side and curtain airbags.
Trims & Engines
There are more than 20 trim levels to choose from on this generation of Fiesta. Many are limited-run special editions; the most popular trim levels are Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X and ST-Line.
Zetec is the mid-point; Titanium has a more upmarket look and feel; Titanium X is the top-of-the-range model; and ST-Line has a sporty look. At the more affordable end of the range are Style, Studio and Edge, which slot in below Zetec.
Then there’s the Fiesta ST hot hatchback which is available in three trim levels – ST-1, ST-2, ST-3, which, in order, have broadly the same standard features as the Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X. There’s also the special edition ST-200, which has more power and assorted other upgrades designed to make it even more fun to drive.
The Fiesta is available with an extensive range of petrol and diesel engines. Petrol engines range in power from 69bhp to 197bhp, and diesels from 67bhp to 93bhp.
The most popular petrol engines are the 1.25-litre with 82bhp and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost with 98bhp. These engines provide reasonably nippy acceleration and decent fuel economy.
Looking at the TDCi diesel engines, the 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre engines with 93bhp are the most popular. They accelerate swiftly and can give you excellent mpg. If you want to pay as little as possible for fuel, look out for Econetic models, which can average nearly 90mpg.
Most Fiesta buyers chose a manual gearbox. However the 1.4, 1.6 and 1.0 EcoBoost petrol engines are available with an automatic if that’s what you prefer.
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