From a dynamic perspective, the influence of the 4mm added to the Fiesta’s wheelbase ought to be easily balanced out by the width added to the car’s axle tracks (30mm front, 10mm rear).

So, even on paper, the Fiesta’s real unique selling point was never really under threat here.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
Body is barely disturbed from its habitual equilibrium through dips. Damping is outstanding for a £16k car

And in practice, this new Ford is what its forebears always were: the outstanding choice for keener drivers. It continues to transcend the realities that normally define how much fun you can have in a small and cheap car, delivering remarkable cornering gip and balance, and genuinely compelling handling response and driver engagement, partnered with ride refinement that’s hardly compromised at all.

Our test car needed only 16in alloy wheels and standard suspension to feel a generous cut above the next most dynamically sophisticated rival in it class.

There are small cars that approach what it can do in terms of outright grip and incisiveness (although not on mid-corner balance) – and most of them need much firmer, more restless and less isolating suspension settings to do it.

The Fiesta’s genius is really that you can have fun driving it without being made to pay a dynamic price for that fun. Its ride is medium-firm but still rubber-footed, absorptive and pleasingly calm over high-frequency lumps and bumps.

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Its vertical body control and general close damping are unusually good. And when it corners hard, it doesn’t do so entirely without body roll but seems to turn what little roll it has to its advantage, initially developing grip with it – and then using it to balance dwindling grip levels on the limit.

There is, perhaps, an ever-so-slightly elastic, compliant feel to the car’s power steering that we don’t remember being present in the last Fiesta, but that’s our sole reason to object to what Ford has done to its market-leading supermini from a dynamic standpoint.

And it’s not enough of a reason to deny what continues to be an outstanding effort and a five-star score in this section.

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