From £12,715
Does this version of Britain’s top-selling car have the substance to match its style?

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta

In remaking Britain’s best-selling car, Ford has trodden lightly with the new Fiesta. But does the all-new supermini do enough to keep its place at the head of the table?

Matt Burt
16 October 2018

Why we’re running it: To determine whether the country’s best-selling new car is as worthy of that title as its brilliant predecessor was

Month 4 - Month 3Month 2Month 1 - specs 

Life with a Ford Fiesta ST-Line: Month 4

Making sound decisions - 29th August 2018

Our Fiesta is equipped with the 10-speaker B&O Play premium sound system, which is a £350 option. Apparently, B&O’s engineers spent a year developing the system to suit the Fiesta, listening to 5000 songs in the process. The sound quality is far superior to the tinny tones you’d expect from a small car’s sound system. Money well spent.

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Mileage: 6231

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Life with a Ford Fiesta ST-Line: Month 3

Our car meets a forebear, but are the family ties easy to spot? - 4th July 2018

I recently caught sight of a lovely old Ford Fiesta XR2 that is part of Ford UK’s Heritage fleet and resembles our Fiesta ST-Line longtermer. It’s red, sits on silver wheels, features beefed-up styling and looks decidedly purposeful for its size.

That got me thinking: is a 1980s hot hatch comparable to a modern warm hatch on the road too? Has Ford, perhaps by accident as much as design, created a modern incarnation of the XR2 with this most peppy version of its standard Fiesta? The numbers suggest so.

Our car, with the most powerful variant of Ford’s 998cc triple, troubles its front wheels with 138bhp – 42bhp more than the 1.6-litre Escort XR3-sourced four-pot under the XR2’s angular snout. But Ford Heritage’s 29-year-old machine weighs just 839kg, which means it’s 305kg lighter than the newcomer. Power-to-weight is, therefore, fairly close, with the XR2 offering 114bhp per tonne to the ST-Line’s 121bhp. That light weight should leave the XR2 feeling sprightlier on the road.

To test this theory, I headed to Ford’s Dagenham site, where the XR2 and other classics are let out from under their dust covers only on very rare occasions.

Hopping into the boxy XR2 was like stepping back in time. Whereas our new car’s cabin feels tough and protective, the old one’s is airy and offers even better visibility thanks to those frighteningly slim pillars. The XR2 vibrates when the engine fires into life and there’s a strong smell of unburned petrol during cold running. Ah, nostalgia.

On the road, the XR2 is hard work. There’s no power-assisted steering so low-speed manoeuvrability requires muscle, although once you’re moving, the large-diameter wheel offers plenty of feedback. The throttle-cable-connected engine also feels deliciously responsive, albeit not particularly potent, but it’s the brakes that really grab your attention because they require a heavy press of the middle pedal to have any impact.

Our Fiesta, by contrast, has highly assisted brakes typical of modern cars (bitey at the top of the pedal), an engine with lowdown lag and very light steering that only provides information as to how the tyres up front are getting on when you really load them up through a bend. But the new car, somehow, doesn’t feel any less fun for it.

When you wind the Ecoboost motor up, the ST-Line exudes energy. It does so in a very different way to the old Fiesta, and it doesn’t lean and buzz like that car as you drive enthusiastically, but it’s quick to respond to steering inputs – far more so than the XR2 – and pulls hard when you work it through the meat of its torque band (which peaks at 1500rpm).

Given that the thrummy engine is also hungry for revs – its bhp peaks at 6000rpm – and the ST-Line chassis, which is firmer than the standard set-up, feels well matched with a good balance of agility and comfort, I think my assumptions were correct: this Fiesta has much in common with one of Ford’s most-loved hot hatches. Averaging a decent 44mpg on the traffic-ridden drive home illustrated just how far cars have come.

Love it:

EAGER ENGINE The Ecoboost three-cylinder sounds enthusiastic — like half a six, perhaps.

Loathe it:

NO CRUISE CONTROL The lack of cruise control feels at odds with an otherwise well-equipped car.

Mileage: 2756

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Life with a Ford Fiesta ST-Line: Month 2

Uprated stereo system makes all the difference - 27th June 2018

Having recently returned from a holiday in Ibiza, I was excited to step back into the Fiesta and enjoy its £350 optional B&O Play sound system. Like the nightclubs of the White Isle, it provides surround sound to offer an audio experience detailed enough to satisfy fans of all music genres. To these ears, it’s the best system in this class.

Mileage: 2304

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You don’t need to head to a B-road to appreciate its classy chassis and willing engine - 13th June 2018

There’s a strangely satisfying feeling of driving a car with taut but well-controlled damping over broken street surfaces. Call it the silver lining of Britain’s poor roads.

In such a car, you remain fully aware of exactly what’s going on beneath you, and every crease and crack in the tarmac is communicated to you, but it’s done so delicately that at no point do you wince as bumpstops are hammered into or tense as suspension struts clang in pain.

I experience this sensation regularly on my commute to work in our Ford Fiesta. The car rides with a composure to rival that of premium saloons, rumbling over London’s pothole-ridden streets with the nonchalant demeanour of a model on a catwalk.

But as my work-bound route leaves the city streets and moves onto a twisting dual carriageway slip road, the Fiesta still feels eager to keep up momentum around the bend and have its nose angled steeply towards the inside.

I believe this enthusiasm helps to improve fuel efficiency: I can merge onto the dual carriageway without needing to power up to speed, unlike cars that have to coast around the slip road bend.

Now that it has settled in, the Fiesta averages a respectable 40mpg during rush hour, which is at least 10mpg better than I had achieved during its first few hundred miles. They say highly strung engines take more time to loosen up, and that’s true of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost, which produces a reasonable 138bhp.

Admittedly, some of the fuel economy improvement will have come from me learning how best to use the engine and its stop/start system. It’s impossible to drive like you’re wearing helium shoes in London: there are too many honking minicabs and weaving mopeds to contend with to safely allow such a technique. But you can significantly boost fuel economy by pre-empting changes ahead, such as coasting up to lights you know will have turned red by the time you get there.

The Fiesta’s motor switches itself off before you come to a complete halt so on busier stretches of road adds a good 10% (by my guess) to the time the engine is off. It restarts before you’ve depressed a centimetre of the clutch pedal, too, and feels as seamless as any other system I’ve used.

On the motorway, our 1400-mile-old car offers around 47mpg, which is well short of the claimed 62.8mpg according to the (optimistic) NEDC test. The engine never feels strained and offers good mid-range performance but, even with six speeds at its disposal, revs at around 2750rpm so can’t be as frugal with its sips of RON 95 as you might expect.

I suspect the extra torque of the Fiesta’s 1.5 TDCi diesel engine would be better suited to motorway work. That being said, our car is still fairly new, and there’s time for the motorway economy to creep up by a few miles to the gallon.

Plus the reward for having this petrol engine comes during almost all other scenarios of driving, such as when urban landscape is traded for B-road. At those times, its motivation to rev matches the keenness of the chassis. It’s a fine city warrior but is at its most enjoyable outside it.

Love it:

THE SWEET SEATS The firm, supportive seats match the car’s good ride and, with flashes of red, they look the part as well.

Loathe it:

NOT THE KEY’S KNEES Occasionally, the ‘no key detected’ message shows and won’t let me start the car until I switch the ignition off and on again.

Mileage: 1465

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Life with a Ford Fiesta ST-Line: Month 1

A run-in engine means Fuel economy improvements - 30th May 2018

The Fiesta has gone through quite a transformation in its first 1100 miles. To begin with, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine felt rather tight, while also returning measly economy that barely surpassed 30mpg during my urban commute. But, gradually, that figure has crept up by 10mpg and the 138bhp triple up front has started to feel more eager to rev.

Mileage: 1108

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Welcoming the Fiesta ST-Line to the fleet - 16 May 2018

‘Something-Line’ models. You know the breed; they’re the sheep in wolf’s clothing, the converse of a Q-car. They wear the muscle of their most athletic cousins, but behind the spoiler and big wheels are the heart and lungs of the family accountant.

They’re everywhere; diesel Golfs dressed like Golf Rs, Corsas impersonating the VXR and C-Classes with dreams of being C63s. Now, there’s another and it has just joined the Autocar fleet.

Say hello to our new Ford Fiesta ST-Line, which flexes biceps with metallic alloy wheels (ours are the optional 18in ones), beefier bumpers and an ST front grille, but beneath its bonnet lives a little 1.0-litre Ecoboost triple. Surely, the buying public will turn their back on such a poorly endowed fraudster?

Well, actually, no, they won’t. Turns out ST-Line is fast becoming the new Zetec. It is already the most popular trim for the Focus and now it’s climbing up the Fiesta’s popularity ladder.

ST-Line arrived in November, several months after Zetec and Titanium variants, yet it accounted for 23% of sales in 2017. Titanium was just 2% better than that. Although Zetec, the long-standing trim champion, represented 45% of demand, Ford thinks there’s a strong chance that’ll change this year.

Given that the Fiesta is the nation’s best-selling new model by quite some margin, and this is the first time we’ll get an extended test in this latest version, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot of Fiesta ST-Lines on roads.

So I should make the most of these early weeks, during which our red car is garnering appreciation from pedestrians as they wonder whether they’re seeing the new Fiesta ST months before it’s due to appear. Hopefully, these bystanders won’t feel like their glance is wasted on an ST-Line, because our car does at least come with the most potent version of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost on offer.

We could have opted for the 99bhp entry model or the 123bhp midfielder, but we’ve gone for the 138bhp version because it straddles a middle ground between the standard line-up of Fiesta derivatives and the full-blown ST. In 138bhp form, the Fiesta ST-Line’s starting price is £17,945 — just £1050 less than the opening figure for its upcoming hot hatch sibling.

Once you’ve added a few options — and our car is adorned with £1550 worth of extra kit — you’ve exceeded the price of a full-bore ST. Tempting, but purchase price is only one part of the equation. If you take running costs into account, Ford’s turbocharged three-pot 1.0 engine should be much easier on my pocket.

Even in this peppiest form, the 1.0 triple is claimed to offer 62.8mpg (combined) and puff out 102g/km of CO2. So trips to the fuel station should be far less frequent than they would be in the ST, which also uses a three-cylinder but of 1.5-litre capacity and a 197bhp output. Our car should be notably cheaper to insure, too.



Ford has upgraded the ST-Line’s chassis so it more deservedly sits between the standard line-up and the top variant than most ‘something-Line’ models. The underlying structure is 14% stiffer than the old car’s, thanks to the use of more bracing in key areas, but the ST-Line adds to this with suspension tuned to offer sportier handling than the standard car, achieved primarily through higher damper rates.

This sounds promising for a B-road jaunt, but there’s a chance that it could make the car tiresome on my urban commute across London. There’s no system to adjust the damping rates, either. In fact, there’s nothing to adjust the way the car is set up at all, unless you count the Eco button that, as far as I can tell, seems only to slacken the throttle’s responses.

But I like that there’s only the one character for this car. That trait suggests it could be like an old-school warm hatch. Not that it’s old-school inside.

The new Fiesta is a much nicer place in which to sit compared with its predecessor. The previous car’s cluttered dashboard is a distant memory and the new version’s clean, simple dashboard is, to my eyes at least, a better example of design than the Volkswagen Group’s more functional layout.

Our Fiesta ST-Line has the optional B&O Play sound system, which includes 10 speakers and adds an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. That kit costs £350.

The buttons and knobs on the dashboard feel of good quality, while the soft, squidgy plastic on the dashtop feels so nice that I’ve already developed an annoying habit of prodding it while stopped in traffic. If you rejoice at the sight of unpopped bubble wrap, you’ll understand the satisfaction.

Aside from the hard, scratchy plastic for the interior door pull handles, every surface you lay your hands, feet or bottom on feels premium. Take the steering wheel, which comes with soft perforated leather, or the gearknob, which is spherical with a chrome-finished top. The cloth-covered sports seats are very comfortable and supportive, too.

All in all, this is a car with plenty of potential. Our first drives in the Fiesta ST-Line suggest this could be quite the entry-level driver’s car so, rest assured, I’ll be venturing out of the Big Smoke and heading to the country to see how hard it is to cock an inside wheel in a car with a few miles on the clock. You can take a three-pot on a track day, too, right?

Second Opinion

I loved the ST-Line version of the previous Fiesta. While the engine is much the same, the handling is somehow even sweeter and more accurate now, and the difference between the cars’ interiors is like that between a Travelodge and a Hilton.

Kris Culmer

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Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost ST-Line specification

Specs: Price new £17,945; Price as tested: £19,495; Options: ST-Line 18in wheels £600, rear privacy glass £250, rear parking distance sensors £200, B&O Play premium sound system with 8.0in touchscreen £350, Shadow Black roof and mirrors £150

Test data: Engine 3 cyls in line, 998cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 123bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1400rpm; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Claimed fuel economy 62.8mpg; Test fuel economy 35.4mpg; CO2 98g/km; Faults None; Expenses None

Join the debate


6 June 2018

 I can't even be bothered to point out the errors in the spec details wrt the report , and they'll probably be fixed before anyone else is reading this; as for all the plaudits that the interior receives, which may well be warranted, I just can't get past that bloody 'after-thought' display on the dash - what were they thinking? Also, my sense of disappointment over the lack of innovation in the styling of this 'new' model still lingers, and would probably prevent me from considering what is probably a very good car.

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

6 June 2018

Hence I bought a Titanium...

6 June 2018

Can't understand the point of this.a three door Fiesta costing with extras a fiver under

£19-5k ,why the options selected are not included in the basic price is unbelievable!!!! A three door ST-1 with the performance pack costs less than this, really cannot see why anybody would opt for this version when the ST is only a grand more

7 June 2018

About a grand too expensive. Nice though.

8 June 2018

And they still haven't fixed the engine spec discrepancy.

22 June 2018

Pitted ST-Line / ST-Line X  intensely against new Swift Sport 2018, and Zook blew it out by nearly £4k with the Zook having most of the Fiesta's extras a standard.You really need to go ST-LINE X to make the sports range worthwhile with the 140bhp Ecoboost. Only advantage for me over Zook was Fiesta would have had Heated Seats and Bose Stereo for the month, but I'm saving, real-world £63quid a month by choosing a new Swift Sport, which I'm picking up next week. it's well over a second quicker than the Ecoboost too in the real-world. Head rules. I've made the right choice for me. Suzuki will be reliable and dealerships are switched on without the impersonal train track of a Ford dealership.

9 July 2018

Wise move

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 July 2018

The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini section, and was the smallest car yet made by Ford. Development targets showed a Best Essay Writers generation cost US$100 not as much as the present Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with general length shorter than that of Ford's Escort.

19 July 2018

The carnival was an all novel auto in the supermen part and was the littlest automobile yet made by Ford. Development targets confirmed an Expert Essay Help Service age cost US$100 not as an immense sum as the present guide. The car was to contain a wheelbase longer than with the intention of the Fiat 127, yet with general span shorter than that of Ford's Escort.

22 August 2018

lack of cruise control, but adaptive cruise and prebrake with pedestrian alert are available as part of the drivers assistance pack for a very reasonable £400, so bin the boyracer privacy glasss (£250 and the black roof and mirrors £150) and get options that you will actualy will use and aid your safety at the same time, its not difficult. 


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