The outgoing Fiesta’s cabin was unarguably its weakest aspect.
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.