Ford Fiesta Review
Inexpensive to run, excellent value for money and great to drive, the Ford Fiesta is one of the best small hatchbacks.
Published: 9 December 2022
The Ford Fiesta is one of the best small hatchbacks you can buy. It has space for four people to travel relatively comfortably and the boot is big enough for a couple of suitcases. It’s also excellent value for money; doesn’t cost much to run; and feels great to drive.
You’ll have lots of choice within the Fiesta range – between three- and five-door models, petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic gearboxes and various well-equipped trim levels. There are even SUV-style Active models, the luxurious Vignale trim and the high-performance Fiesta ST hot hatch. Whatever you need from a small car, there’s almost certainly a Fiesta that suits you.
- Great to drive
- Lots of models
- Very good value
- Some rival cars have more interior space
- Some have bigger boots
- Interior looks a bit basic
Dashboard & tech
Most Fiesta models have a touchscreen infotainment system, along with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system isn’t one of the flashiest available, but it’s easy enough to navigate. We’d recommend you program the handy shortcut keys for the features you use most often. Other features like the air con are controlled by easy-to-use buttons and knobs. If you like listening to music in the car, look for models with the high-quality Bang & Olufsen (B&O) sound system upgrade.
As with other Ford models, the Fiesta’s seats are quite firm but shaped to hold you in place, so they’re actually very comfortable. Sporty ST models give extra support when driving around corners. Vignale models have slightly softer seats upholstered in a leather-like fabric called Sensico.
Getting into the Fiesta is relatively easy because the seats are mounted quite high and it’s only a short drop down into them. However, the roof is quite low, so you’ll need to mind your head if you’re tall. Getting into the back seats of three-door models can be a bit of a scramble past the front seats.
The Fiesta gives you a generally smooth ride while driving, although because it’s a small car, big bumps and potholes can jostle it about a bit.
The Fiesta’s dashboard design is functional rather than especially interesting or appealing. Likewise, the materials used feel durable but don’t have the premium look and feel that you get with some rival cars. It’s well designed overall, but the Fiesta’s interior doesn’t give you the kind of feelgood factor you get with small cars such as the Mini Hatch or Peugeot 208.
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Practicality & boot space
There’s good headroom and legroom in the Fiesta’s front seats, but it’s a relatively narrow car so it might feel tight if you have particularly broad shoulders. In the back, there’s enough room for two average-size adults to be comfortable for a few hours. Most children will have more than enough space (there are two sets of Isofix child-seat mounts) but the small back windows mean the view out isn’t great for smaller passengers. Models with a sunroof have a brighter interior but less headroom because of the surround for the sunroof. If you regularly carry back-seat passengers, a rival with more rear legroom such as the Honda Jazz or Skoda Fabia might be a better option.
The pockets on each of the Fiesta’s doors can carry a half-litre drink bottle, plus a phone and a wallet. There are two cupholders between the front seats, plus an armrest that lifts up to reveal a cubby hole, ideal for storing your travel snacks. There’s another phone-size cubby hole in front of the gear lever and a glove box that’s mostly taken up by the owner’s manual.
With a capacity of 292 litres, the Fiesta boot is about average for this type of car. It’s not especially large but there’s enough space for a week’s food shopping or a couple of suitcases. Loading the boot is relatively easy, helped by a big, square opening. There is, however, a drop of about five inches from the opening down to the boot floor, so you might find yourself bending down to load or unload heavy stuff.
The Fiesta’s back seats fold down in two sections, in a 60/40 split, released by buttons on the backrest. The seats don’t fold fully flat and there’s a step up between the boot floor and the back seats. This is the same set-up you get with most rival compact hatchbacks – it’s a useful space for carrying larger-than average items but many compact SUVs and some small hatchbacks give you extra versatility thanks to their adjustable boot-floor height.
The Fiesta gives the best driving experience of any small hatchback. No matter how long your journey is, whatever type of road you’re on, you can really enjoy driving because the car feels nimble, responsive and unflappable. This means it’s great at the more mundane aspects of driving, like threading down narrow city streets and nipping into parking spaces. It feels safe and stable on motorways, too. The gearshift on manual versions is satisfyingly precise and in automatic models the gear changes are so smooth that you’ll barely notice them.
The Fiesta range spans a wide spectrum of performance, from models focused more on fuel economy to the fast ST hot hatch. However, most Fiestas have a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with 98bhp or 123bhp, both of which provide good acceleration. The 123bhp engine is a better option if you regularly drive on motorways because its extra power makes it easier to maintain 70mph. If you’re a high-mileage driver, you may want to consider one of the diesel models because they can go a lot further on a full tank of fuel.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
Low running costs are usually a big part of the appeal of small hatchbacks and the Fiesta doesn’t disappoint, with fuel economy and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are very competitive for this type of car. Except for the ST version, the cost of fuel and tax should be low.
According to official figures, petrol models can give you an average fuel economy of 42.8 to 65.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 97 to 129g/km. Diesel models can give 57.6 to 88.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 82 to 107g/km, and the high-performance ST model can give 40.4 to 47.1mpg and 136 to 145g/km.
Mild hybrid technology was added to the 123bhp and 153bhp versions of the 1.0-litre petrol engine, giving a small boost in performance and fuel economy, but no full-hybrid or fully electric versions are available.
Value for money
Generally speaking, the Fiesta is good value for money. Some similar cars cost a bit less to buy but the Fiesta gives you a relatively high standard of equipment and it generally costs less than premium-brand rivals. High-spec models can appear pricey, but they come with luxury features that few other small cars have.
Reliability & Warranty
There are other small hatchbacks with interiors that have more of a premium feel than most Fiesta models, but the Fiesta feels very solidly made. Ford gives all its cars an industry-standard three-year warranty, though some manufacturers like Toyota and Kia offer five or even seven-year warranties.
The J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study put Ford as a brand in the top half of the manufacturer rankings, suggesting that its cars are generally pretty reliable.
Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded the Fiesta a full five-star rating. Standard driver safety features on all models include anti-lock brakes, traction control, lane-keeping assist and an adjustable speed limiter. Some models have extra features including automatic emergency braking and a driver-attention monitor.
Trims & Engines
Trying to decipher trim levels for Fiesta can be a challenge, since there are lots of them and they have changed frequently over time. In summary, there are six ‘groups’ of trim levels: the most affordable are Style, Zetec and Trend. You get a lot more features included as standard with Titanium and even more with Vignale, which is quite luxurious. Active adds SUV styling details while ST-Line gives a sportier look.The high-performance ST model is sportier still.
Some Titanium, ST-Line and Active models are also available with the X or Vignale pack of extras, which adds luxury and high-tech features. Models with the B&O Play pack have a high-end sound system. There are also three equipment packages available on the ST: ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3. (The higher the number, the more equipment.)
There are so many Fiesta models available but we’ve done a broad outline of the kind of features you can expect to find. Most models have a touchscreen infotainment system, air con, cruise control and front electric windows. Many models also have sat nav, heated front seats and rear parking sensors. Top-of-the-range Vignale models have a full-length glass sunroof and artificial leather upholstery that Ford calls Sensico.
There are three petrol engines and one diesel engine available in the Fiesta. The petrol options are the 1.1-litre TI-VCT, 1.0-litre EcoBoost and 1.5-litre EcoBoost. The diesel is the 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi.
There are yet more options though, because the 1.1-litre and 1.0-litre petrol engines and the diesel are each available with different amounts of power, covering a range of 68 to 152bhp. You also have the choice of manual or automatic gearbox, and some models have a mild-hybrid system that helps to improve fuel economy and to lower emissions.
All the engines are good in their own right, giving a responsive performance considering their small size.
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