The Ford Fiesta is certainly among the best-known supermini cars in the world. It's been around for more than forty years and right now it's the biggest selling supermini in Ireland and the UK. 2017 saw the introduction of mark VII of the Fiesta, and while the car may still be visually similar to the outgoing model, what has changed has certainly made the car even better. The front of the car sees sleeker lights and less creases on the bonnet, and the rear gets new light casings too. The car is a small bit longer, wider and taller than before, but the change is so small that most people probably wouldn't notice it. The interior is much better, Ford has gotten rid of the very dated generation of SYNC that served as an infotainment system, and SYNC 3 provides a much better experience. The other major change is safety equipment - which we'll cover below.
The big seller in terms of engines for Ireland will be the 1.1 naturally aspirated petrol. This engine, according to Ford, will probably prove to be the most popular. We briefly drove these at the Irish launch. The entry-level 1.1 litre 70hp Zetec model comes with a manual 5-speed gearbox. We’d want for a bit more poke and the 85hp 1.1-litre engine gives a little more. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost versions would be engines that we would choose – their smoother, nicer, and are available with a little more power. The Ecoboost is available with 100, 125 and 140 bhp. 100 or 125 is sufficient for Irish roads. These three-cylinder engines offer low CO2 and good on-paper fuel economies. Not unusual for Ford, there are plenty of other engine choices available including a 1.5 diesel.
Where the Fiesta beats the competition is in the driving the department. The Fiesta's steering is wonderful, and even though the steering feels a little lighter than before, it is a still brilliantly responsive and gives the right amount of feedback. The gearbox is better than most of the competition except for maybe the Mazda2. It offers short throws between gears, which makes the drive feel more dynamic.
The Fiesta is certainly more refined that before. This is most noticeable in the new Vignale trim – which will be available in Ireland from late 2017. Zetec trim is not as padded, but in comparison with other models in its class, it’s on par. The car does suffer from some road noise, but nothing that is uncommon. The Ecoboost engines are quiet enough – if you opt for the ST-Line (available from the end of 2017), the sound is artificially enhanced for more enjoyment.
The higher up the trimline you go, the better the quality of the interior. From Titanium-up, the plastics inside are good. They’re excellent in the ST-Line and the Vignale – however, we don’t think many people will be opting for these.
Ford is doing what SEAT has done with the Ibiza and they are making a rake of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) available with their cars. You'll find that the higher up the trim lines you go, the safer your car becomes. It is great that some of these systems are now available... however, it would be nice if manufacturers would start giving it all as standard. Now it's soapbox time. Our Government needs to cop on and stop charging people extra VRT on safety items within cars too. Safety in cars should not be a luxury. It's a necessity.
Space to the front of the Fiesta is good, and the dash is nicely laid out. There are plenty of USB ports and some 12v points. The second row was tight for our reviewer – who is just under 6-feet (circa 182cm) – he sat in it with the front seat in his own normal driving position. The boot offers 303 litres – which is less than the new SEAT Ibiza.