► We drive new Ford Fiesta
► Full 2017 Fiesta review
► Enough to stay #1 supermini?
The wait is over. We've driven the new Ford Fiesta, perennially Britain's bestselling car and a common sight on roads the length and breadth of the country. Forget Mondeo man - we are now a nation of Fiesta folk.
It's a comprehensive relaunch, with a box-fresh set of clothes atop a similar-but-evolved front-wheel drive architecture. Is it enough to put the baby Ford at the leading edge of the small-car segment, against newer rivals such as the VW Polo, Seat Ibiza and Vauxhall Corsa?
Read our full 2017 Ford Fiesta car review for the CAR magazine verdict, delivered straight from the Spanish launch.
Browse Ford Fiesta for sale
So what's new on the 2017 Ford Fiesta?
From some angles, especially the front, this car looks incredibly like the outgoing Fiesta. With more than 17 million sold globally since 1976, Ford is taking precisely no chances with this launch. There's no radical redesign. Only a modest jump in dimensions (+71mm longer, +13mm wider). Little evidence of revolutionary technology. Rather, it's a gentle evolution in all departments.
The new look is most apparent at the rear, where horizontally arranged tail lamps create a noticeably different vibe. The lights are split, meaning the tailgate opens with a wide aperture to gobble all your luggage. It's not a big boot at 303 litres, but it's fair by supermini standards. Just watch out for a pronounced - and deep - lip over which to lug your bags (a false, raised boot floor panel is available, mitigating this).
Choose your Fiesta in three-door or five-door forms (70% of Brits go for the more flexible latter option); access to the rear is straightforward in the 3dr, thanks to large front doors. Once in the back row, leg and headroom are ample by class standards and you'll comfortably get a pair of adults in there. The new, optional panoramic sunroof robs headroom, mind, squashing taller grown-ups.
It's a Fiesta, Jim, but not as we know it...
This is a good-looking car, make no mistake. Bright, bolder colours work best to bring design chief Joel Piaskowski's new aesthetic to life. The good news is, even humble entry-level models look slick, modern and crisp on smaller rims; just remember that the basic rental-spec Style comes with less glamorous 15-inch steel wheels hidden by plastic trim and an FM stereo.
But while the Fiesta looks similar outside, most of the redesign attention has been lavished inside the newcomer. And that's A Good Thing. The outgoing model desperately needed a more modern interior to accompany its sharp drive.
Ford Fiesta: a quickie visual history
It's a big step up from today's cabin - you'll find it hard not to notice the eight-inch Ford Sync3 touchscreen which dominates the centre console in most models. It is standard from B&O Play Zetec trim upwards, bundling in digital control of your media, navigation and communications.
Happily, it's one of the best touchscreens in the sector - with pin-sharp graphics, a clear, logical user interface and fast processor speeds. Boggo models are left with a rather forlorn dashboard - with miniature screens shrunk into the iPad tablet-style display sprouting from the dash top.
The posh Fiesta: read our Ford Fiesta Vignale review here
So is the digital heart of the Ford Fiesta finally up to scratch?
We'd say so, on this evidence. The new Ford Sync3 system synced well with every Apple, Blackberry and Android phone we threw at it; the new Fiesta comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Applink to mate seamlessly with your digital devices. It speaks volumes that Ford now charges £100 for an optional CD player, relegated to the depths of the glovebox.
The latest Ford electronic architecture also bring a raft of electro gadgets for safety: there's lane-keep assist to nudge the Fiesta back into lane, radar cruise control to keep a set distance to the car in front and a camera-based collision protection system (NB this beeped needlessly several times on our test route warning of parked cars and the like. We'd consider swerving the £200 Driver Assistance Pack this comes with).
The new Ford Fiesta goes on sale in late summer 2017, with UK prices from £12,715.
In detail: Ford Fiesta prices and specs
Good value is key at this part of the supermini market and Ford is pitching the new Fiesta a notch above its predecessor, leaving the bargain basement down to the latest Ford Ka+. The launch range looks something like this:
- Ford Fiesta Style The entry-level model, 15in steel rims, manual air-con, FM radio, priced from £12,715
- Ford Fiesta Zetec Sharper styling, 15in alloys, heated windscreen, DAB, priced from £14,215
- Ford Fiesta B&O Play Zetec With 10-speaker hifi, Sync3, 8in touchscreen, priced from £15,165
- Ford Fiesta Titanium Generously equipped, 16in alloys, cruise control, climate control, priced from £16,145
- Ford Fiesta Titanium X Adds B&O stereo, rear-view camera, keyless entry, priced from £17,495
- Ford Fiesta ST-Line The sporty one, 17in alloys, bodykit, sports seats and suspension, prices from £16,145
- Ford Fiesta ST-Line X Adds privacy glass, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, prices from £17,495
- Ford Fiesta Vignale Maximum luxury model, leather trim, panoramic sunroof, prices from £19,345
Further accessories and options let you personalise your Fiesta - in line with the fashionistas' favourites, the Mini and Fiat 500, there are myriad chances to tailor your car to your every need, from five contrasting roof colours to larger alloy wheels up to 18 inches in diameter.
The biggest disappointment of the whole package is interior quality. You're left with a sense that Ford knows exactly how to pitch mainstream quality - the pennies have not been lavished on feelgood luxury. The materials used are without exception below what you'll find in the class leaders (that's you, new VW Polo), or even most Japanese competition.
Granted, there's a little bit of squidge in the dashboard lining to pass the getting-to-know you showroom prod, but many of the plastics are disappointingly sharp and crude: the door grabs feel very cheap (you touch these at least twice every journey!), the tinny glovebox opens with a pathetic flop and the heating switchgear feels flimsy compared with most rivals'.
Perceived quality just ain't the Fiesta's strong suit... But remember this: it's not badly built. It's ergonomically much better than the outgoing model's confused, smartphone-apeing layout. It all works and looks durable. It's just very mainstream, cheap and - if you're feeling charitable - cheerful.
Enough about the Ford Fiesta interior! What's it like to drive?
Prepare for the good news. The new 2017 Fiesta blitzes the driving thing. Our fears that they'd throw away the sheer joie de vivre of the outgoing model are unfounded. It's every bit as much fun to drive as the old model - putting it right up there at the top of the class among those of us who like to drive.
It passes the first-mile test with flying colours. The steering is wonderfully pointy and quick, lending a sense of agility and eagerness that makes the new Fiesta a fizzy, fun companion whether you're bumbling around town or carving down your favourite back road. A few percentage points of feel are lost with the latest electro-power-assistance - it's a bit lighter than the old Fiesta, but still an immersive wheel to wield.
And then there's the ride quality. The outgoing Ford Fiesta remains the best car in its class to drive bar none and - hallelujah! - they've kept the chassis magic intact. The way the new supermini absorbs bumps and controls its bodywork over ruts and crests and tricky corners is little short of exceptional.
Body control and damping on the ST-Line of the test car pictured impressed on every surface we could find in northern Spain.
Ride and handling
Wherever you point the Fiesta, it excels. Bumps and lumps in the road are absorbed with that wonderful pliancy that Ford has made a trademark these past two decades, ever since the Focus Mk1 rewrote the rulebook back in 1998. There's more than a hint of chassis guru Richard Parry-Jones magic in this supple suspension set-up, and for that we're grateful.
Sixth gear is very tall, making the Fiesta a hushed place to sit on a long motorway commute (70mph = around 2400rpm). Our test car wore 16in wheels, surely contributing to the plump ride quality. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder will easily offer over 50mpg in relaxed driving; even on a hard cross-country thrash, it is unlikely to dip below the 40s.
This is a class engine: eager to rev, quite punchy in 140ps (138bhp) spec with a pleasing turbocharged kick for overtaking, and a useful dollop of torque from just under 2000rpm to work through higher gears. Ford quotes maximum thrust of 133lb ft peaking all the way from 1500-5000rpm.
Peppy, keen-sounding and well mannered, the three-cylinder 1.0 Ecoboost engine is a great poster child for downsizing. We suspect the less powerful 125ps model will be just as good.
The driving position is spot-on: this is one Ford where you can sit low enough and there's a good view out, despite small door mirrors and those pointless quarterlight split front windows which you can't see out of. The Quickclear heated windscreen, standard on many Fiesta models, remains a fabulous Ford feature that you'll enjoy most days in winter (toppier Fiestas also introduce heated steering wheels for the first time).
Watch out for a bit of a blindspot around the C-pillar, however, especially on five-door models. You may need those reversing camera option packs...
Ford has aced it. Anyone worrying they might've mucked up the new Fiesta, leaving a compromised globalised product - as they arguably did with the latest Mondeo and Ecosport - can lay their fears to rest.
The new 2017 Ford Fiesta is all the supermini we'd wished for. It's fun to drive, rewarding for enthusiasts and finally has a properly competitive infotainment system. If only it had better attention to quality inside, we'd be adding that cherished fifth star. It's a brilliant effort. Fiesta folk can lap it up with our hearty recommendation once more.
Read more Ford reviews here