Had the new Fiesta’s development budget been the size of the UK’s Brexit divorce bill and the car widely as new as a four-year-old’s school uniform, we’d have regretted the omission of one particular item that might have been inherited from its predecessor: Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.

One of the very first downsized turbo three-pots of its kind in 2012, this motor has been imitated countless times, but it remains to be equalled for its energetic fizzing charm or its smoothness or willingness to work at both low and high revs.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
In faster bends you can adjust the Fiesta’s attitude with a lift of the throttle, almost as you might in a 1980s hot hatchback

In this application, your sense of the motor’s balance and slickness, and its impressive mix of potency, operating range and refinement, has been bolstered by Ford’s efforts to reduce noise and vibration at source, and to better isolate the cabin through measures such as an acoustic windscreen.

There’s also the Fiesta’s new six-speed manual gearbox to consider, with its very pleasingly light and short, although slick and positive, action. The upshot is that there’s a new-found sense of quiet discretion about this powertrain, as well as the familiar old accessible slug of torque and vivacity as the tacho needle soars.

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You couldn’t really ask for much more in a supermini engine.

And you won’t want for more urgent acceleration. Our benchmarking suggests Ford’s claim of 9.9sec to 62mph (9.6sec to 60mph) is slightly conservative and shows this car to be quicker than any like-for-like three-cylinder turbo petrol rivals that we have road tested.

For in-gear flexibility (30mph to 70mph in fourth gear) it’s a good second and a half faster than those rivals (although the relatively short intermediate ratios of Ford’s new six-speed gearbox are a significant factor here, whereas most rivals still have a five-speeder).

And here’s why the car is so punchy: although Ford can officially claim only 125lb ft for this engine, it’s producing a fair bit more pulling power than that in reality. On overboost, which is technically ‘transient’ (although available for long enough to be considered permanent in any meaningful sense), the engine actually makes up to 133lb ft in second gear, 148lb ft in third and 155lb ft in fourth, fifth and sixth. 

Our biggest criticism of the car pertains to wind noise suppression, which, particularly relative to the gains made on engine refinement, seems pretty average. So you’ll notice the Fiesta’s good manners at idle and town speeds, but also some fluttering from around the mirrors and door seals at higher speeds.

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