The English speaking world is a lucky one, we have a vast array of other languages to cherry pick various names and sayings from, yet we enforce our own choices on the rest of the world regardless of their respective meanings (or lack of meaning if the word itself is in English). Admittedly there are some rather funny exceptions, for example the vehicle known as the ‘Shogun’ in the UK is in much of the world known as ‘Pajero’…except that in Spanish pajero means w*nker, so it is renamed ‘Montero’ in countries where Spanish is spoken. The name ‘Fiesta’ simply means party, and whilst the compact hatchback does exude a certain element of fun in handling and cheeky looks I cannot envisage wanting to drive a Ford ‘Party’ if the shoe was on the other foot.
I have probably written about the little Ford in more detail than any other car on this website, so I won’t retrace its lineage from front wheel drive pioneer to also ran to handling king, but I will try to give a decent review of the current generation. I have in fact driven 3 generations of Fiesta and ridden in an additional 2, and a 2009 model is my most recent experience with the car. I’ll be blunt straight off the mark and say that the Fiesta is a great car, this does not make it faultless but for the majority of buyers it is pretty much perfect, and the sales figures reflect this with the car being the most popular car in the UK.
Ford got the styling right first time with the current Fiesta. A mix of cheeky and sporty it is macho enough to appeal to boy racers, but also has curves and classy detailing to appeal to female drivers too; this is not meant to pigeonhole any gender but I simply mean that the Fiesta has a broad appeal. All wheel designs bar the plastic rims on the Econetic version are attractive, and although I don’t think that the extra body kit on Zetec S models adds much to the vehicle besides weight, it will still remain popular with a certain type of customer. I stated in a previous post how the car has recently been facelifted, and again while I don’t think the Aston-Martin grille sits right on such a small car, it does at least make it distinctive and will not deter any customers.
Inside there is little to deter buyers either…a set of controls modelled on a mobile phone may sound contrived but it still works even if it looks a little busy. Radio controls are clustered around the display on the top section of the dashboard and ventilation is lower down near the gear lever. Pretty standard layout but it looks sharp, especially with the bold silver panel in the model I drove…although other colours might look a tad tacky. Dials are laid out simply but I prefer a dial for fuel levels rather than an LCD graphic, and the little ding that goes off everytime the car starts and fuel is low can be very frustrating. Back seat room is less impressive but I have only been in a 3 door. I guess footspace was fine and realistically having 2 passengers in the back would be easy everyday in 5 door models. The boot is quite pokey though; I guess the only other supermini I have travelled in alot recently has been my mum’s Honda Jazz which has a huge boot (and rear seat), but from my memory the current Fiesta’s boot space does not seem any bigger than my mk 3’s, a car which was designed 30 years ago.
On the road, for once I can actually comment, the Fiesta I drove was a little gutless to be honest. I guess coming from a 1.8 litre car to a 1.25 the difference was always going to be noticeable, but the car is heavy and 81bhp is not really enough to motivate the car with any turn of speed. The 1.25 engine, which was such a revelation in the MK 4 when it was launched in 1995, can also be had in a less powerful spec, so god knows how that performs. Other engine choices currently include 1.0L and 1.6L naturally aspirated engines and the same choices with a turbo. Diesel options come in 1.5 and 1.6 flavours and return excellent economy, but add a lot to the base price. A 1.4 petrol was the previous best selling option and with 100bhp it would be my choice as a used buy; the 1.0L ‘Ecoboost’ engine has replaced this with the same horsepower but more torque, and gives a nice 3-cyl soundtrack to boot. Handling and ride are excellent as predicted, Ford usually excels here and the Fiesta rivals the MINI in terms of drive enjoyment but at a lower price, I mainly drove the car on the motorway but even here the car’s skills shone through (as long as you don’t try to overtake too much!).
The Fiesta then is a winning package, sharp to drive and look at with a modern interior-it even comes well equipped in most specifications! But this is where the car’s negatives begin to shine through…for a start the bewildering choice of engines and trim levels can begin to confuse the average customer, and then there is the car’s price. All these positives are because the car is a Ford, yet many people see them as strengths in spite of the Blue Oval on the front; Fiesta pricing has reached the levels that the Focus was at just a few years ago and you are looking at £15k easily for a 1.0L Ecoboost Zetec 5dr. Fleet buyers are able to negotiate huge discounts, but for private buyers who may not feel comfortable with demanding thousands off of a new car will come unstuck and may end up going to rivals, whose prices may be cheaper or offer more car. For example the Audi A1 Sportback can be had with largely comparable equipment for LESS, yes this is with a smaller 1.2 engine but most buyers would rather have four rings on their car than the Ford emblem.
I would not discourage anyone from buying a Fiesta as they will be getting one of the most capable cars in the supermini segment, but private buyers may want to do their sums and consider buying used, as the Fiesta suffers from horrific depreciation; a result of a mainstream badge and huge numbers flooding the market.