From £12,7159
Class-leading supermini is updated with the intention of returning to the top of the sales charts

What is it?

The phrase ‘Britain’s best-selling car’ is regularly found in a sentence containing reference to the Ford Fiesta. But no more. Last year, it didn’t even make the top 10 and was outsold even in Blue Oval showrooms by the Ford Puma.

The semiconductor shortage was behind the drop in sales, as Ford diverted more of the chips it had into more profitable models like the Puma, which competes in the same class. Yet rather than let the Fiesta’s long reign as Britain’s number one be followed by a period back in the ranks, it has made a series of changes to the car as part of this mid-life facelift to bring it back up the sales charts when the chips are no longer down.

The changes aren’t the biggest, admittedly. Remember: the Fiesta enters this facelift from a position of strength as one of the best-driving superminis that remains a compelling ownership proposition.

2 Ford fiesta st line vignale mhev 2022 uk drive side

What's it like?

Those changes, then. Visually, the biggest changes are at the front, where there's a new design for the bonnet, headlights and grille, to where the Ford badge is relocated. There are new colour and wheel designs as well as a shuffle of the trim levels.

However, there are no mechanical changes to the chassis (which is not a bad thing at all, given how sweet the Fiesta is to drive) and the engine line-up remains unchanged.

It starts with a 99bhp version of Ford’s ubiquitous 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, which higher up the range gets belt-integrated starter-generator mild-hybrid (MHEV) technology to be offered in 123bhp or 153bhp outputs, the latter tested here.

The familiarity of that engine and chassis mean, unsurprisingly, it’s more of the same from the Fiesta on the dynamic front. The handling is simply a joy at any speed; this is a car that can raise a smile no matter how mundane the corner or manoeuvre required.

As before, none of this involving handling is at the expense of ride comfort or quality. The car transmits to the driver exactly what the road surface is doing while absorbing and isolating from bumps with a sophistication a car in this class really has no right to.

It’s all backed up with an engine that remains one of the most characterful on the market. The 1.0-litre triple is vocal but sounds enthusiastic, rather than unrefined, and delivers excellent performance levels, particularly above 2000rpm when the turbocharger kicks in.

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The MHEV technology stores energy lost under deceleration and then uses it under acceleration to use less fuel, and the result is real-world economy of 50mpg, even when the car is delivered with enthusiasm.

The front wheels are driven through a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

The facelift in the interior centres around the addition of a 12.3in digital screen for the instrument display. It’s a welcome upgrade over the old dials, although it alone doesn’t lift the Fiesta above the criticism the interior of this generation has always had for being on the dark-and-drab side. It remains just that, although it's comfortable, if a little cramped, and access to the boot is let down by a very high lip.

6 Ford fiesta st line vignale mhev 2022 uk drive dashboard

Should I buy one?

A winning formula hasn’t been altered in this round of changes for the Fiesta. Rivals may offer more space, more technology and a richer cabin, yet none of them can match the driving pleasure offered by the Fiesta.

It remains one of the best pound-for-pound driving experiences in any class, yet those pleasures can also be found much lower down the range than the £24,440 before options (and £28,315 after!) price of our test car. A simple 99bhp version of the Ecoboost engine in ST-Line trim should do the trick.

10 Ford fiesta st line vignale mhev 2022 uk drive cornering rear

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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ianp55 30 March 2022

Fiesta MHEV ST Line Vignale doesn't exactly trip off the tongue does it? and what does it mean ST- Line indicates sporty but for £24.5k you could have a full fat Fiesta ST for this sort of money. I thought that the Blue Oval had dumped the Vignale trim just as the Ghia trim was dropped as the top of the range model. If £24.5 isn't bad enough adding nearly £4k of options beggars belief. Ford once had a towering lead in UK car sales but now things have changed,can't see that offering cars like this will reverse that trend

xxxx 30 March 2022

So all that battery tech and a 1.0 engine and you still only get 50mpg, no better than the heavier bigger 1.5 golf with COD.  Fiesta really is beginning to show it's age in looks department too, still Ford have new trucks in the pipeline.

How the mighty have fallen

And so what actually 30 March 2022

Vignale to Ford is surely like Taste the Difference in a Pound Shop.

Yards and yards of leatherette and overly padded trims. 

Sub-par drivetrains and a crazy price point. Good luck fellas