You need conduct no in depth evaluation to know one area in which the Ford Fiesta continues to rule the class. Sensing that a car’s appearance was as important to a Fiesta buyer as a Ferrari buyer, Ford’s original shape for the Fiesta reset the template for small car style more convincingly than any car since the Peugeot 205 in 1983.
Cute, wedgy and combining perfect proportions with effortlessly fluent detailing it would have sold on looks alone. The recent update has left its essential prettiness unchanged, but added a hitherto unprecedented sense of purpose to the Fiesta ranges.
Beneath that skin lies a skeleton of no great apparent innovation. Its steel platform is shared with the Mazda 2 and adapted for the Ford B-Max and features a conventional strut type front suspension and the torsion beam rear axle layout preferred not only by Ford but every other major competitor for its efficient packaging and, of course, cheapness of manufacture. Both three and five door versions are available.
Where it gets a little bewildering is when trying to choose a powerplant. Ford has made much of the abilities of its award-winning three cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine, so much so that three different variants are offered, one that breathes air at atmospheric pressure and produces 79bhp and two with turbos producing 98 and 123bhp respectively.
But that’s not where the Fiesta range starts: entry level ‘Zetec’ models are powered by a 1.25-litre four cylinder engine with 81bhp. So yes, a 1.25-litre Fiesta with 81bhp and four cylinders does indeed cost less than one with 1.0-litre, 80bhp and three cylinders.
Ford has also stated the 1.0-litre motor is good enough to be a substitute for a 1.6-litre four, but as it cannot currently be tied to an automatic gearbox, Ford has kept a 1.6-litre on the stocks to cover that base. Then at the top of the range you’ll find the 179bhp Fiesta ST hot hatch which doesn’t actually produce 179bhp at all, but about 194bhp, while 197bhp the recent addition of the ST200 which technically produces around 212bhp – the discrepancy being that under European regs power produces by a temporary overboost facility is not allowed to be counted.
The good news is that the diesel line up – still a minority interest in this class at least so far as the UK is concerned – is far more simple. There is one: a 1.5-litre motor with 94bhp. An Econetic version of this engine with a CO2 figure of just 82g/km is available.