For anyone under the age of 40, there has always been a Ford Fiesta.

Such longevity confers on it the kind of rarefied status that makes a car synonymous with both the brand and its proclaimed values.

Certainly, the outgoing model – launched back in 2008 – has been not only the bedrock for Ford’s sales in Europe but also the prime conveyor of its ‘Feel the difference’ dynamism and peach-pretty exterior styling.

And although it never managed to be the cheapest, most practical or best-equipped supermini, its virtues repeatedly distinguished it as not only the car to beat in our eyes but also the default option for a new generation of downsizers and first-time buyers.

Consequently – like Volkswagen with the Golf or BMW with the 3 Series or Porsche with the 911 – when it came to replacing the outgoing Fiesta with a new generation, Ford has opted not to drastically tamper with the formula.

In fact, although the car ultimately earns an ‘all-new’ differentiation from its predecessor, some of it could rightly be described as a far-reaching overhaul rather than a white-space rethink. Instead, Ford’s stated aims have focused on addressing the issues that inevitably crop up when producing the same model for nearly a decade: renovating the styling, reinventing the interior, improving quality and fine-tuning the performance.

This makes the timing of the new model’s arrival impeccable. The latest generation of rivals – most notably, the Seat Ibiza we tested and the Volkswagen Polo waiting in the wings – could credibly claim to have exceeded the long-standing benchmark set by the Fiesta.

As a result, this new version must improve on not only its predecessor’s impressive legacy but also the polished desirability of the competition. No pressure.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Superminis

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK