The UK's Best-Selling Car - Ford Fiesta Zetec On Test
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The original Mk I Fiesta was introduced back in 1976 with a starting price of £1,856. Mainstay of the range was a 40PS 1.0-litre engine which gave enough performance at the time to be competitive.
40 years later a l.0-litre engine is likely to be the pick of the all-new Mk VII version, though power is up somewhat (100 to 140PS).
Prices start at an affordable £12,715 for a 'Style' model, though making that choice limits the engine options to rather a old school 1.1-litre petrol or 1.5-litre diesel. Air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and a host of laudable safety features come as standard.
Most buyers are likely to find a 'Zetec' model more to their liking, not least because the award-winning EcoBoost engines are now available and it is this model that Ford kindly sent me for extended testing.
Other plus points of Zetec ownership include a host of appearance upgrades such as smart 8-spoke alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, fog lamps and some chrome addenda.
Also included is an alarm system, a Quickclear heated windscreen and Ford's SYNC 3 DAB Radio with 6.5" touchscreen (with Apple Car Play and Android Auto).
For an additional £300, the upgrade to the City Pack is recommended as this includes rear parking sensors and power fold door mirrors with puddle lights.
I'm told by Ford that a Zetec trimmed Fiesta with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is likely to be the most popular combination and it's easy to see why.
Tested in 100PS guise and mated with Ford's automatic twin-clutch Powershift gearbox, the peppy engine delivers brisk performance (0-62mph in 12.2 seconds) with enough urge for safe overtaking. It feels quicker and is particularly eager off the line, thanks to an engine which develops its maximum torque at just 1,500 rpm.
Up to 54.3mpg is promised for the combined economy cycle, with just under 40mpg showing on the trip computer after my week behind the wheel.
CO2 emissions of 118g/km enhance this model's green credentials.
I should point out that if you choose the slick six-speed manual gearbox, the combined economy figure jumps by over 20% to 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions drop to below 100g/km.
The new Fiesta sets new class standards for refinement ably demonstrated by a period of high speed cruising where wind and road noise were noticeable by their absence. Engine noise is also well muted.
The Fiesta has long been the class leader for ride and handling and the new model doesn't disappoint. Road imperfections are dismissed with disdain and handling is exemplary, even without ST-Line tuned suspension.
The new suspension system must take some of the credit but this is aided by an electronic Torque Vectoring Control.
Other car manufacturers would do well to borrow a Fiesta and see how to set up a car that works well on the UK's roads.
The well-equipped interior offers enough space for four adults with a modest 292-litre boot. The driver's seat offers a range of adjustment to suit most drivers. All major controls are well-placed and are light to the touch.
A large screen dominates the dash and controls the infotainment system and the satellite navigation system (where fitted). I was pleased to see that the heater controls are separately sighted below for ease of operation.
There is plenty of scope for personalisation and some vibrant new colours are now available, but the black paint of the test car did look suitably smart, though will be hard to keep clean.
With increased refinement, more equipment and superb driving manners, the new Fiesta looks set to continue its reign as the UK's best-selling car. Just as some of its rivals were closing the gap, Fiesta streaks ahead yet again and will continue to be a regular sight on our roads.
I would forgo the automatic gearbox (saving £1,350), but would choose Zetec trim and the perky 100PS three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Job done, top car!
Fast Facts (as tested)
Ford Fiesta Zetec Automatic
100PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine
0-62mph in 12.2 seconds
Combined economy - 54.3mpg
Emissions - 118g/km CO2
Ford Options packages from £116 per month (Zetec model)
Low insurance grouping (from 10E)
36 month/60,000 mile warranty
4,500,000 Fiestas sold in the UK since 1976
1,000,000 of the outgoing model since 2008
120,000 in the last 12 months
Over 60 awards won since 2008
The UK best-selling car every year for the last 8 years
The UK's Best-Selling Car - Ford Fiesta Zetec On Test, 28th October 2017, 10:58 AM