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Ford Fiesta 1.1 Zetec 2017 review

Autocar logo Autocar 12/07/2017

The new Ford Fiesta is 70mm longer and 13mm wider than the old model

The new Ford Fiesta is 70mm longer and 13mm wider than the old model
© Autocar

What is it?

Launched in 2008, the outgoing Ford Fiesta must go down as one of the most successful cars ever built by Ford, not just in Europe, but globally. In the UK, it’s been the best seller in its class for the last eight consecutive years and one million have been sold in the UK in total.

Its replacement is larger but not much, at 70mm longer and 13mm wider. The exterior design isn’t a step change either, more a subtle evolution of the existing shape and unlike the bigger Focus, you can still choose between both three and five-door versions.

Related: 2018 Ford Fiesta Mk8 hatchback review (Carbuyer)

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The main news is, that the interior has been given a major overhaul. The old audio unit with its slightly bewildering array of buttons have gone and in its place there’s a large, slightly incongruous, 8-inch floating touch screen on the dash.

There are plenty of technical options available too, including a full suite of advanced driver assistance features including automated parking, cruise control and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

Core models are the entry level Style and Zetec with the rest of the range split into two threads, sports and luxury. Sports models include the ST-Line and ST-Line X with the 197bhp ST due next year. The luxury models comprise Titanium, Titanium X and the Vignale which comes later this year.

We've previously tested the ST-Line X trim with a 138bhp 1.0L Ecoboost engine.

There’s a large, slightly incongruous, 8-inch floating touch screen on the dash © Autocar There’s a large, slightly incongruous, 8-inch floating touch screen on the dash A hook-up with premium audio maker B&O means you can order a Fiesta with a 10-speaker, 9-channel 675W audio system as an option or by buying specific models, such as the B&O Play Zetec Series or B&O Play Titanium Series. 

The engine line-up is championed by the outstanding 3-cylinder, 1.0T Ecoboost in both 98.6bhp and 123.3bhp versions as before. Both come with 6-speed manual gearboxes as standard. The 1.5 TDCi diesel has been carried over in both 84bhp and 118bhp forms despite there being very little demand.

At the entry level there’s a 1.1 Ti-VCT naturally aspirated version of the three-cylinder engine available with 69bhp in the Style and 83.8bhp in the 3-door Zetec tested here. Both come with a 5-speed rather than 6-speed gearbox.

What is it like?

The good news is that the Fiesta’s outstanding handling, ride and steering qualities are unaffected by the increase in size and if anything, they’re even better. The steering is light enough for easy parking but loads up nicely in corners to give plenty of feel.

Grip is good and that much is telegraphed back through the wheel, making quick drives on twisting country roads fun and confidence-inspiring, even in the wet. There’s little body roll but despite that the ride is supple and effective damping ensures there’s no skittering on poor surfaces.

As before, brakes are powerful if oversensitive and would benefit from more pedal feel.

The interior of the Fiesta has been given a major overhaul © Autocar The interior of the Fiesta has been given a major overhaul No turbocharger means this 83.8bhp engine lacks more than just power, the diesel-like punch of its boosted sisters is also missing when you accelerate. Because of that, response feels sluggish although speed soon builds up with patience.

The naturally aspirated engine is gruffer than the refined turbo versions too and it’s three-cylinder configuration more noticeable.

The interior is where existing Fiesta owners will notice the biggest difference though. On a purely subjective level it feels even more spacious and has been de-cluttered with far fewer buttons.

The 8-inch floating touch screen fitted to most models is slick and bang up to date, giving access to the Ford Sync 3 infotainment system complete with Apple Carplay as well as sat nav and rear view camera displays when fitted.

Should I buy one?

The 83.8bhp Ti-VCT engine is surprisingly capable considering its small capacity and lack of turbo, but most drivers will probably find its lack of initial go tedious unless driving is confined purely to urban streets or you really do want nothing more than a utility shopping car. 

Prices range from £12,715 for an entry level 1.1-litre Style to £21,225 for the Vignale when it arrives, while the price of next year’s ST has yet to be revealed.

The Fiesta’s outstanding handling, ride and steering qualities are unaffected by the increase in size. If anything, they’re even better © Autocar The Fiesta’s outstanding handling, ride and steering qualities are unaffected by the increase in size. If anything, they’re even better If you really are desperate to spend as little as possible and performance means nothing to you, then the 1.1-litre Style is probably better value than the higher spec Zetec driven here. 

The 3-door, 1.1-litre Zetec costs £14,215 on the road whereas the 3-door, 98.6bhp, 6-speed Zetec with the 1.0T Ecoboost engine is not much more at £14,795.

Since that extra £580 will make the difference between lack lustre performance and arguably the best car in its class that’s great fun to drive, the choice should be an easy one for the majority of buyers. 

Location Northamptonshire; On sale Now; Price £14,215; Price as tested £14,440; Engine 3cyls, naturally aspirated, 1084cc, petrol; Power 83.8bhp @ 6300rpm; Torque 81.1lb ft @ 3500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerbweight 1113kg; 0-62mph 14sec; Top speed 105.6mph; Rivals Seat Ibiza, Mini.

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