It’s easy to take the Ford Fiesta for granted.
Having been fortunate enough to drive various versions of it since the new model launched in 2017, I now have a default position that it’s a great handling but slightly hard-riding small car with a decent interior and equipment.
It dominates the UK new registrations charts every month and seems to have a version to suit pretty much everybody in the market for a supermini.
It’s only after getting back into a Fiesta after driving one or two of its rivals that it hits home just how good it is.
It’s not flawless, and we’ll get onto where rivals have it beaten later, but for drivers after an engaging car, it’s still the one to have. Especially if you head towards the top of the range and opt for an ST-Line with the sports suspension and, in particular, one with the most powerful of the “regular” EcoBoost engines.
Our test car, equipped with that 128bhp three-cylinder petrol is the fun option for those that can’t stretch to the running costs of the full-fat Fiesta ST. It’s up against the likes of the 128bhp Peugeot 208 GT Line (which we haven’t yet driven) the 100bhp Vauxhall Corsa SRi, and 128bhp Renault Clio RS Line in the warm hatch stakes. Both of the latter are pretty lively and good to drive but pale in comparison to the directness and responsiveness of the Fiesta. Its ride is definitely less refined but the combination of the revvy 138bhp engine, the precise chassis and sharp, communicative steering make it the easy pick for tooling along a B-road.
Ford Fiesta ST-Line
Price: £18,890 (£21,040 as tested) Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol Power: 138bhp Torque: 133lb/ft Transmission: Six-speed manual Top speed: 125mph 0-62mph: 9 seconds Economy: 39.8-53.3mpg CO2 emissions: 113g/km
When you’re just popping to the shops or heading to work it’s also an easy urban runaround with the poke to keep up with traffic and quick responses for nipping through gaps.
Particularly against the Renault, though, the Fiesta loses ground in terms of comfort and space. There’s that firmer ride plus narrower, firmer sports seats, less rear legroom and a touch more wind and road noise.
And when it comes to equipment, you’ll find the Corsa makes up ground with a more generous specification for a similar list price. Where the Vauxhall SRi Nav features LED headlights, cruise control, lane assist, and parking sensors as standard, the Fiesta misses out, with our car’s nav part of a £1,000 infotainment upgrade and parking sensors another £400. It does at least feature an eight-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, as well as plenty of ST-Line styling touches, the NCAP pack with lane assist, speed limiter and auto headlights, and the always welcome heated front screen.
Its much improved rivals make life hard for the Fiesta. It remains the class benchmark for driving enjoyment and in this ST-Line trim with its sports tuned suspension and higher-powered engine it’s a great car to drive. If that’s your main focus then look no further but if space, comfort and equipment are just as important, there are more convincing alternatives.