Just as the Focus redefined the standards of ride and handling that buyers in its class could expect in 1998, so the latest Ford Fiesta sneaked a new supermini benchmark into the decade just gone, with barely 12 months to spare.
Yes, I know the Fiesta is closely linked to the Mazda 2. But it doesn’t feel like it. Perhaps the 2 is a tiny bit pointier at the front end, but the Fiesta’s steering is still fabulously direct and feelsome. And its ride is sensational; there are cars two classes up from this that don’t have the same ability to soak up the imperfections of British roads.
There may be plusher small cars; a Mini feels better-built, for example. And I’m still not 100 per cent convinced about the mobile phone-inspired central console controls. But in terms of dynamics in mass-market, genuinely affordable vehicles, the Ford set new standards so high that, as with the Focus, we could be halfway into the next decade before anyone even matches them.