► Valedictory drive in Ford's Fiesta
► We test the downsized 1.0 Ecoboost
► Driven here in Black Edition spec
It's hard to believe the Ford Fiesta has been with us in its current shape since 2008, isn't it? Forget Mondeo Man, I think Fiesta Folk are what populate Britain nowadays, reflecting the downsizing trend sweeping Europe's cities.
The Fiesta has been Britain's bestselling car for the past seven years, leapfrogging the Focus and becoming so commonplace you'll barely bat an eyelid when you see one.
And yet former styling chief Martin Smith's oh-so-clever design has really stood the test of time. I'd wager it looks as fresh today as the time he walked contributing editor Ben Whitworth round his new baby nearly a decade ago, explaining its 'sprinty' feeling and how his team had specifically targeted female buyers.
Question is, can it still stand up to scrutiny at the end of its life? We'll see the new Fiesta in autumn 2016. Most eight-year-old cars should be sent out to pasture. Can we still recommend this pivotal supermini to Britain's car buyers? Read on for our full Ford Fiesta review to find out...
Ford Fiesta Black Edition: the lowdown
We're testing the Fiesta in end-of-life special edition status - one of the Red and Black Editions created by Ford to pep up sales in the closing weeks and months.
I recently spoke to the Blue Oval's small-car chief, Darren Palmer, who explained how the parts department came up with these specials. Forgive the crass oversimplification, but it really is a case of some snazzy sports seats being available in warehouse A, lashings of two-tone paint expertise in the colouring-in department over there, and a sprinkling of gadgets and cabin trim details elsewhere in the supply chain.
This is classic special-edition territory, a subject Ford understands deeply. And you know what: it kinda works. The Fiesta scrubs up well for this final edition, presenting as an entirely attractive, fresh look. It doesn't feel like a run-out special. From the outside, at least...
The cabin: showing its age
Step inside and you can see why Ford needs to replace the Fiesta. The interior feels old now, the dubious splattering of buttons on the centre console showing how much HMI (human machine interface) tech has moved on. This switchgear was modelled on an early Motorola smartphone layout, don't forget...
It's the biggest chink in the Fiesta's armour and feels archaic now. Everything works well enough, and our test car had rudimentary sat-nav and the like, but the game has moved on.
Space is still found in abundance, however; the 290-litre boot is one of the segment's biggest, besting the loadbays you'll find in a Vauxhall Corsa, VW Polo or Mazda 2.
Still sizzles in the driving department
A slightly cruddy interior we can live with. Shonky dynamics we can't. And the great news is that the Fiesta is still a wonderfully sharp steer.
The chassis is brilliant: all old-school Ford balance, with a commendably fine blend of bump absorption and body clamp. It reminds me of the Mk1 Focus in this regard. Is there a tauter-handling supermini out there? We're not sure there is.
It's chuckable, the steering is feelsome and that 1.0-litre EcoBoost is a joy to use - all three-cylinder thrum, but with a raspy cackle, where VW's triple moos blandly. It's just so versatile: equally at home on a shopping trip around town as it is caning down your local B-road.
Find out how our sister brand Parkers is getting on with its Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Black Edition long-term test review here.
Quite how Ford has kept its biggest seller so sharp for so long is deeply impressive. The car is ageing in some ways, but we're heartened that Britain's favourite remains so competitive in all the areas that matter to us.
We hope this bodes well for its 2017 successor.