According to Ford’s big bosses, nearly as many people inside the company voted to drop the Fiesta name from the new supermini as wanted to keep it. In the end, the decision to stick with the Fiesta name — and apply it to all versions around the world — was taken because it was simply too valuable to chuck away. Research throughout the car’s 32-year life has consistently established that it has happy, positive associations. And it has appeared on some 12 million car since 1976, which is no mean achievement either. 

In the flesh, the car more than justifies its slightly prosaic name. Ford has literally built the highly rated Verve concept car it first showed at Frankfurt last year. The new three-door pictured (we’ll see the five-door in Geneva in a couple of weeks) is very close indeed to the concept, except that it now has doors with window-frames, plus a centre pillar for its body — and none the worse for that. Ford design boss Martin Smith (who was at Opel-Vauxhall during while the well-liked Corsa was created) says he has seen production cars disappoint at launch after their earlier concept studies were well received, and wanted to avoid such a thing with Fiesta.

Ford’s new supermini is almost the same in road area as the car it will replace late this year, though it is 2-3cm taller. It will offer a weight saving over its predecessor believed to be 20-40kg.

The gain isn’t as spectacular as the 90-100kg saving claimed by Mazda with the similarly engineered Mazda 2 (a car whose interior lacks the feeling of completeness and materials quality of the Ford) mainly because the outgoing Mazda 2 was a heavy car, practically a small MPV. Ford has high hopes for Fiesta sales on grounds of its good looks alone, and at first sight they’re well and truly justified.