From £9,715
The facelifted Fiesta is still a hoot to drive, but the diesel engine's refinement and the cabin are being left behind by the competition.

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

20 January 2006

What's new?The Fiesta receives a mid-term facelift, incorporating bulbous headlamps at the front and redesigned rear light clusters with new front and rear bumpers. There is also a revised options list and an extended choice of body colours. This Zetec Climate version receives alloy wheels, front fog lamps, rear spoiler and climate control.What's it like?It’s amazing what a couple of new light clusters can do to alter the stance of a car - the new Fiesta looks a lot chunkier. Importantly though, the purpose of any facelift is to attempt to look younger, and in that objective the facelift has been less successful.Inside there is further wardrobe tweakery - the top half of the dashboard is now constructed from a soft-touch moulding instead of hollow plastic. Further, the LCD fuel and temperature gauges have been replaced with clearer, more conventional analogue dials.Undoubted improvements, but the Fiesta still struggles to compete with the interior of the new Renault Clio, which has made a bold attempt of redefining the perceived quality of supermini cabins.Underneath this freshly operated skin sits the same mechanicals that gave the previous Fiesta such driver appeal. Suffice to say this is still the case, with firm suspension and damping providing a definitively sporty feel where body movements are well controlled over broken surfaces. With fine handling coupled to light, sharp and precise steering the Fiesta is still incredible fun to drive.The 1.4-litre common-rail unit may be punchy, eager and surprisingly linear in its power delivery, but it is also noisy. On start-up, this can border on the agricultural, and were it not for the astonishing fuel consumption figures, would be unforgiveable.Should I buy one?The keen driver in you will shout yes. However, put your rational supermini head on and you will realise that newer competition such as the Renault Clio offers more safety, refinement and maturity for the money. With Vauxhall and Fiat due to release their own all-new competitors, rationalising this purchase only becomes more difficult.Jon Quirk

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