From £9,715
Not as refined as the new Clio, but fun to drive and a more pleasant place to sit.

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

2 December 2005

Giving the Fiesta a little fizz has been the chief aim of Ford’s facelift for the supermini, which has always scored high for practicality and driver appeal, but low on showroom draw.The 2001 original looked too sober outside, too dull inside and was too obviously built down to a price, with its hard plastic dash and cabin fittings. So the new car gets a (slightly) cheekier new face part-inspired by the Micra – hence the bulbous new lights – some mildly flamboyant tail-lights and more rounded bumpers.Just as important, there are bold new paints, and the redesigned soft-feel fascia can be had in some pretty startling hues too. If they don’t appeal, you can opt for something more traditional.Technically, the main advance has been electronic. Admittedly these are options, but you can now have your Fiesta MP3 wired (there’s a rather crude socket near the gearlever), Bluetooth-enabled and order it with voice activation for the stereo, phone and air conditioning systems.Sat nav is also an option, as are power-fold mirrors, climate control, rain-sensing wipers and ‘home safe’ headlamps. A transmission with an automated clutch, called Durashift EST, is also an option besides a conventional auto.Mechanical changes are minimal, which is both good and bad. It means that the Fiesta’s deft handling, precise steering and fair ride are preserved intact, but also that an old drawback – road noise, especially on wider tyres – roars in unabated.In fact, refinement in general was the chief drawback of the 1.25 Zetec we tested. You couldn’t call it noisy, but the general commotion of motion at motorway speeds makes this a slightly wearing car, especially compared with the exceptionally civilised new Clio.For all that, the Fiesta’s honest enthusiasm and no-nonsense practicality appeal, as does the fact that it is probably the most entertaining supermini on back-road twisties. If your motoring doesn’t involve much motorway, it still makes a strong case for itself.

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