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?

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 1 - specs 

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

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Join the debate

Comments
6

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.

Sergei

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