Ford Fiesta (2008-2017) Expert Review
The Ford Fiesta hatchback has been one of Britain’s best-selling cars since time immemorial, and the seventh generation version we're talking about here was by far and away the best supermini of its time. It did all the basics well enough - space, practicality, equipment, refinement, safety, ergonomics, durability, affordability etc - but what really set it apart was a driving experience polished enough to shame most cars costing twice or three times as much. Mind-bendingly good then, still brilliant now, and a sensational used car buy.
- Three-door hatchback
- Five-door hatchback
2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Considering that the Ford Fiesta is the nation’s best-selling car, and has been for a number years, it probably needs little or no introduction for the average British carbuyer. If, however, you’re one of the few folk that’s still unfamiliar with the Fiesta, it’s Ford’s small supermini hatchback, which slots into the range beneath the larger Ford Focus family hatchback, and the even larger Ford Mondeo family saloon.
In many ways, the Fiesta does a similar job to other cars in the supermini class, cars such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208 and Volkswagen Polo. It manages to provide a decent amount of practicality despite its teeny dimensions, it comes with most of the kit you need and it’s affordable to buy and run. That’s all the basics covered, then.
Where the Fiesta really marks itself out from the rest, though, is how it feels from behind the steering wheel. This car has a level of dynamic polish that shames many cars costing much, much more. First of all, and most importantly for most people, it’s comfortable. The suspension absorbs lumps and bumps more effectively than most rivals at all speeds, so life stays settled and relaxed at all times. However, it manages to combine that comfort with a barely believable level of agility. The taut body control, strong grip and pin-sharp steering not only make the car engaging and thrilling in a set of bends, but they also help make the car feel nimble and manoeuvrable in town, settled and stable on the motorway, and safe and secure pretty much everywhere. Ask any Fiesta owner what they think of their car, and they’ll always tell you that they love driving it, although most won’t be able to tell you why. Well, that’s why.
There’s a huge range of models in the Mk7 Ford Fiesta range to choose from, kicking off with the most basic Studio and Style, and running right up to the plush Titanium X. Our favourite model, however, is the well-equipped Titanium version, which comes with plenty of toys and is widely available, yet tends to cost barely any more than the more basic Zetec version on the used market.
The Fiesta also offers a wide range of engines, most of while strike a very decent compromise between performance and economy. And if you’re looking for a sportier Fiesta, you’re well catered for, too. Top dog is the ST, with its 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol turbo engine and snappy six-speed manual gearbox, which is one of the best hot hatches money can buy. If you fancy something that’s more cost-effective to run but still with a sporting bent, you could plump for one of the Zetec S or ST-Line models, both of which are available with a choice of petrol or diesel engines.
Basically, there are many good reasons to find a place for a Fiesta in your life. Here’s what you need to know if you want to buy one.
Three Things To Know
- The Ford Fiesta has enjoyed a long and very successful history, but the mk7 really was a turning point in the car's history. Previous iterations - the Ford Fiesta mk6 being case-in-point - were always a lot of fun to drive compared with rivals, but they lacked a little bit of ride comfort and interior quality, and that prevented them from being the outright class leaders. With the mk7, though, Ford managed to combine the agile handling with scarcely believable comfort, and while the interior still wasn't the poshest, it was a lot better. So good was it, that the Fiesta mk8 that replaced it didn't really change much, it simply built on the mk7's virtues.
- An important facelift (known as the Ford Fiesta mk7.5) in 2013 brought with it big changes in the engine line-up, including the introduction of a 1.0-litre petrol turbo engine, known as the ‘Ecoboost’, which greatly improved the car. While pre-facelift models are still great buys, if you can stretch to one of these post-facelift cars, do so. You won't regret it.
- The facelift also brought about various changes in the trim structure, but all versions of the car came reasonably well equipped for the time. The entry-level car- known as Edge or Style depending on the age of the car you're looking at - came with air-conditioning, remote locking, electronic stability control and a bunch of airbags, but you had to upgrade to the Zetec for alloy wheels and the excellent Quickclear heated windscreen That's not to be confused with the Zetec S, which was a racier version that added sportier styling such as bodykits and spoilers.
Which One to Buy
- If you want the best all-rounder: The Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Ecoboostturbo, available from 2013 onwards in 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp versions, is a brilliant engine. The 99bhp is plenty punchy enough, and our pick of the range, but if you fancy a bit more poke, the more potent 1.0s will put a big smile on your face.
- If you're on a budget: The zingy 1.25-litre engine is carried over from previous Fiestas in 59bhp and 81bhp formats. Avoid the former, as it is rather underpowered, but the latter feels great, perky, willing and smooth, if not quite as lively as the 1.0 turbo. This is definitely the model to pick if you can’t stretch to a facelifted Fiesta.
- For outright fun: The Ford FiestaZetec S with its 1.6 naturally aspirated petrol engine and lowered sports suspension is good, but for something sensational, try the hot Ford Fiesta ST version with its high performance 1.6 Ecoboost engine. The engine was an absolute corker that loved to rev but still had loads of low-down grunt, while the six-speed manualgearbox was a joy to use. Even better, the handling had an agility and precision that belied the car's super-affordable pricetag.
- For the best economy: The 1.5 TDCi diesel was introduced with the 2013 facelift, and replaced the 1.4 TDCI, superseding it as our favourite diesel engine. Fantastically efficient so it'll save you bags of money at the pumps and will be super-affordable on VED tax. Find a car with an Econetic badge, and this will have a 1.6 diesel drivetrain optimised for efficiency, and most of these will cost you nothing at all in road tax.
Petrol versions of the Fiesta should return mpg anywhere between 40 and 50mpg in normal driving, though the thirstier 1.6-litre might return slightly less if you’re heavy on the throttle, and the same goes for the hot ST with its 1.6-litre turbo.
Diesel models, however, are capable of some astonishing economy figures, with the most efficient versions of the 1.5-litre capable of as much as 88mpg according to official figures – though you can expect that to drop to around 65-70mpg in the real world.
All Fiestas have the same service schedule, which dictates that they need to be serviced every year or 12,500 miles, whichever comes first. Fiestas aged over three years old will benefit from Ford’s Motorcraft menu servicing scheme, which means they’ll cost round £150 a year to service at a Ford dealer.
All Fiesta engines come with a timing belt, rather than a chain, and this will need to be changed every 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes up first. Under Ford’s Motorcraft scheme, that’ll cost you around £320, or £420 if you throw in a water pump at the same time, which is probably worthwhile. Happily, other maintenance jobs and repairs tend to be cheap, and because the Fiesta is mechanically pretty simple, most garages should be able to work on it.
If you have an allergy to giving too much money to the exchequer - let's face it, don't we all? - then you'll want your Fiesta to be cheap on road tax. Quite a few of the diesels - and even a few of the Ecoboost petrols - qualify for no road tax at all due to their super-low CO2 emissions, and even those that don't will probably only land you with an annual bill of £20 or £30. Most of the other versions will saddle you with a bill of between £125 and £150, the latter of those two figures being what you'll pay for the sportiest ST version. Interestingly, though, that's not the most expensive Fiesta on tax. That doubtful honour falls to the 1.4 petrol automatic with its £205 annual burden, but in fairness, that's not an engine we'd recommend anyway, and not just for the tax implications. And remember, if you find one of the handful of the mk7 Fiestas produced on or after April 1st 2017 when the tax rules changed, you'll pay annual tax at a rate of £50 per year regardless of which engine you pick.
Many Fiesta drivers - particularly young ones - will also want their car to be cheap on insurance, and the car does well here, too. Some Fiestas sit a low as group 3 for insurance, while many of the more modestly powered option sit in group ten or below. When you consider that insurance groups range from 1 to 50, cheapest to most expensive, respectively, then you can tell that premiums should be very affordable on most versions. The STs sit in group 30, but otherwise, groupings don't get anywhere higher than 19.
The Fiesta is generally a pretty reliable car, although it can’t quite match rivals like the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai i20 in this regard.
There are relatively few major faults to worry about, but Fiestas do occasionally suffer with niggling electrical issues, so be sure to check everything works on your test drive. Listen out for knocks and rattles from the suspension and avoid cars which look and feel neglected or poorly maintained.
Diesel models are fitted with a particulate filter, and will require a high-speed run on a motorway every few weeks to allow this filter a chance to clear itself out. Without this, the filter will become clogged and require costly replacement. For this reason, it’s worth avoiding a diesel model if most of your driving will consist of short journeys in town. Diesel models have also been known to suffer with injector failure, which can be costly to remedy, so avoid any car that struggles to start.
Early examples of the Powershift automatic transmission, which was introduced in 2013, have been known to suffer from juddering as a result of fluid leaching past the transmission oil seal and onto the clutch pack. The seal has been modified, so if this problem affects your car, it is fixable, but it’s a costly repair, so avoid any automatic Fiesta that doesn’t pull away cleanly.
Finally, build quality isn’t as good as on some rivals, so check carefully for snapped pieces of trim and other broken bits around the interior.
The CarGurus Verdict
There’s a good reason the Fiesta has proven so popular over the years: it’s an excellent small car that’ll keep both your head and your heart happy. Not only is it spacious enough to serve as a town-friendly family car, but it’s supple and quiet enough to be well-suited to longer journeys, too. And because there are simply so many Fiestas out there, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a good example in the right specification for you.
Automatic and diesel versions might have their reliability foibles, but on the whole the Fiesta makes a great used buy, and should prove both cheap to run and satisfying to own.