The jacked-up, SUV-like trim is claimed to combine “rugged SUV styling with hatchback practicality and true Fiesta driving dynamics”.
Luxurious Vignale trim joins the range, complete with quilted leather seats and an extensive range of kit, in order to address the growing popularity of higher-end trim levels.
The Fiesta’s styling has changed dramatically over the years, but Ford has taken an evolutionary approach with this seventh-generation model.
Eight years into its life, the current Fiesta remains the UK’s best-selling car. Referring to the less than dramatic departure in design for the new model, a Ford insider said: “It works for Volkswagen with the Golf.”
As such, the new car is instantly recognisable as a Fiesta, although it does have a broader grille and slimmer headlights than the current model, along with horizontal rather than vertical tail-lights, in an effort to make it appear wider and more grown-up.
Alongside the Active and Vignale specifications, those who want a sportier look will still be able to specify an ST Line trim, which brings bespoke alloy wheels, a more aggressive grille and side skirts, sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports suspension.
The new Fiesta uses a development of the outgoing model’s platform, complete with retuned MacPherson strut front suspension, rack and pinion steering and a torsion beam rear end.
The front track width has been increased by 30mm and the rear by 10mm, so the suspension geometry can be optimised for larger, 18in wheels. There’s also a lighter, stiffer front anti-roll bar that’s said to contribute to better roll control and more steering feel, and torsional stiffness has been increased by 15%.
Overall, the aim was to retain the current handling balance and improve the ride of what is already one of the most comfortable cars of its kind and the benchmark for driving fun in the supermini class. Only the sportier models feel firm, particularly the ST hot hatch.
The ST won’t be replaced until 2018, but when it does appear it will have more dramatic looks than today’s car in an effort to help it stand out from the cheaper and slower ST Line cars that will be available from launch. The hot ST is likely to use an updated version of the current car’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, although power is expected to be hiked from today’s 197bhp on overboost.
Until the arrival of the full-blown ST model, the new Fiesta’s engines will all be small, frugal units, including a more efficient take on today’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost, which will be offered with 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp outputs, and a new, entry-level normally aspirated 1.1-litre three-cylinder petrol, available with 69bhp or 84bhp.