Despite a facelift in 2013, Ford never managed to counteract the last-decade mix of a button-heavy dashboard and tiny infotainment screen, neither of which could be operated with anything like the seamlessness that a smartphone-owning buyer expects. From that exceptionally low bar, the new model constitutes a predictably gargantuan step up.
Unsurprisingly, the previous interior has been done away with completely. According to Ford, its replacement effectively halves the number of switches and buttons, many of them having been relocated to a new 8.0in touchscreen - although Zetec models make do with a 6.5in version and entry-level Style models get smartphone dock and a 4.2in TFT screen.
It’s possible to get a little overexcited about the new Sync 3 infotainment system.
Plainly, the touchscreen is superior to the Byzantine sequence of buttons that had to be pushed to make its forerunner operate, and in its size, positioning and sensitivity, you could hardly ask for more.
Nonetheless, in the format tested (and without physically plugging in a smartphone) the set-up seems curiously limited: there are tabs for audio and phone, the ‘Mobile apps’ tab doesn’t work without your phone’s help and ‘Settings’ contains nothing you’ll need on a daily basis.
Conversely, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a DAB tuner and standard Bluetooth, the Fiesta does supply the essentials.
Sat nav went untested – our early build car was bereft of the system, usually standard with Titanium trim.
Perhaps it’s the sparseness of the menu system that confounds expectations, Ford having taken its user-centric pursuit of simplicity to a degree that leaves just plain tabs to push on. An aid to usability, no doubt, but hardly iOS-like in likeability, even if the screen's glass front is iPad-esque.
Around the display, Ford has endeavoured to upgrade the trim materials and employ more seamless surfacing. In our test car, a heated steering wheel featured, along with a 4.2in TFT display in the instrument cluster.
In Fiesta terms, it’s a triumph, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is a cabin brought steadily up to date rather than plonked triumphantly at the head of the class.
For all Ford’s professed attention to detail, there’s still plenty of tough plastic on show and the humdrum tactility that comes with it.
Ford has not completely exorcised its addiction to small buttons, either: the HVAC functions are needlessly strewn among 13 of them. Subjectively, it is also not the prettiest or cleverest solution to grace a supermini, lacking a Mini’s themed aesthetic or the harmony of the Ibiza’s new layout.
It is also not dramatically larger than before. This is to be expected from a car that has gained only a scant 4mm of wheelbase length and even Ford claims to have enhanced the notoriously stingy rear leg room by just 16mm.
Given the monster-selling success of its forebear, it could credibly be argued that the Fiesta’s small size has not impinged on its popularity previously but that doesn’t alter the fact that young families might find themselves better served by the extra 20mm of typical rear leg room we recorded in the Ibiza or its 50-odd litres of extra boot space.
As for trim levels there are a host to choose from, with plenty of options to suplement the Fiesta further. Entry-level Style models get 15in steel wheels, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, lane guidance system, auto headlights and electric front windows fitted as standard. Inside, there is air conditioning, a trip computer, height adjustable driver's seat and a smartphone dock. Upgrade to Zetec and the Fiesta gets 15in alloy wheels, LED day running lights, a Quickclear windscreen, chrome highlights and a leather trimmed handbrake and steering wheel, alongside Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system complete with a 6.5in touchscreen display, USB connectivity and smartphone integration.
The mid-range Titanium trim adorns the Fiesta with 16in alloys, LED rear lights, electric folding door mirrors, keyless ignition, auto wipers, cruise control, velour floor mats and climate control, as well as an 8.0in infotainment display and sat nav. Upgrade to Titanium X and you'll receive electric rear windows, keyless entry, partial leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, a rear view camera and a 360-degree Bang & Olufsen Play audio system.
For those looking for a bit more individuality have the choice of B&O Play trims for Zetec and Titanium trimmed Fiestas, which adds the upgraded stereo system, Ford Sync 3 with an 8.0in screen and sat nav, and a choice of a pastel mint green or copper body colour.
ST-Line models follow next, with the base model getting 17in alloy wheels, projector headlights, a ST-styled bodykit, a large rear spoiler, sporty suspension and front seats, while the ST-Line X adds electrically folding mirrors, tinted rear windows, climate control, partial leather upholstery and cruise control.
Topping the range is the Fiesta Vignale which adds chrome 17in alloy wheels, a unique bodykit, rear parking sensors and camera, a panoramic sunroof, and lots of Vignale badges throughout the interior and on the exterior.