Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Four engines, multiple power outputs
  • No hybrid or fully-electric propulsion on the cards
  • Our pick is the EcoBoost 1.0-litre petrol

There are four main engine options to choose from here. On the petrol side there's a 1.0-litre, 1.1-litre, and a 1.5-litre.

Petrol Ford Fiestas explained 

  • 1.1 Ti-VCT, 75hp, 105Nm, 14.5sec 0-62mph,
  • 1.0T EcoBoost manual, 95hp, 170Nm, 10.6sec 0-62mph
  • 1.0T EcoBoost automatic, 125hp, 170Nm, 9.9sec 0-62mph
  • 1.0T EcoBoost Hybrid manual, 125hp, 210Nm, 9.4sec 0-62mph
  • 1.0T EcoBoost Hybrid manual, 155hp, 240Nm, 8.9sec 0-62mph
  • 1.5T EcoBoost manual, 200hp, 6.5sec 0-62mph

The 1.1-litre comes with a five-speed manual. Every other version comes with a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox, as well as Sport or Eco drive modes to adjust the throttle response.

The six-speed manual is the one to go for - it's an admirable effort that feels solid, with excellent lever placement in the cabin helping no end. ST-Line versions are even more encouraging to drive with its shorter, stubby gearlever slotting into gears nicely.

The majority of the petrol line-up uses a three-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost engine. It's muscular, quiet and smooth to rev out. The entry-level 95hp version provides adequate power to shift the Fiesta along, but won’t set your pulse racing. In reality it’s not that much slower than the 125hp or 140hp engines, but feels a little restrained.

The 125hp EcoBoost is a great middle ground, offering more sprightly performance without the associated costs. The real advantage however is the way it pulls from low revs, so you don’t need to shift down gears so often.

While it struggles in the larger Puma SUV, this picks up momentum nicely in this little hatchback – it's best sampled above 30mph from third gear as you build up to the national speed limit, as you appreciate the mid-range muscle from the turbocharged engine.

We think the 155hp engine is the best of the bunch, and as well it should be given it’s the second most expensive.

It replaces the 140hp version, which itself is extremely responsive and smooth. If you've driven this engine in a different Ford of yesteryear, it's come on a fair bit since then and is nicer to use than it was previously. We came away impressed with the flexibility of this engine too – its power band is wide enough that you don’t have to change gears too often.

Single automatic Ford Fiesta option

If you want an automatic gearbox there’s currently only one choice – perhaps reflecting the fact Ford reckons only 8% of Fiestas will be so equipped. In 2020, a seven-speed, quick-shifting double-clutch automatic was fitted to the 125hp engine and replaced the previous, six-speed torque-converter automatic found on the 100hp version.

Don’t worry too much about the difference – the upshot is that it takes a little less longer to shift gears than it used to, even if the response from the diminutive steering wheel-mounted shift paddles might not be as immediate as you'd hope. For the most part though, it’s a reasonably smooth gearbox and only becomes a little jerky if you want to accelerate very quickly. Although quick off the line and faster than before, this drivetrain can feel like it runs out of puff sooner than the manual, so it’s probably best to pick the latter if you prioritise performance over convenience.

Diesel Ford Fiestas no longer available

  • 1.5 TDCi diesel, 85hp, 12.5sec 0-62mph, 109mph

The diesel isn't quite as smooth, responsive or as quiet as the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, but it is compared to many diesels, and during our test it registered around 10mpg better during mixed driving. That’ll be enough to swing it for many. The 85hp is fine for motorway cruising but wil be hard work getting up to speed. Previously, a more powerful 120hp version was available and much more capable, if still a little underwhelming considering it's power and torque output.

For keen drivers: the Ford Fiesta ST

The previous Fiesta ST was widely regarded as one of the best hot hatches you could buy, and 2018’s version continues this trend. The recipe is very similar, albeit with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine under the bonnet in place of the 1.6-litre four-cylinder of before.

Read our full review of the Ford Fiesta ST

Handling

  • As good, if not better, than ever
  • Still a benchmark for ride and handling mix
  • Easy to park and turn in small spaces

Here’s an interesting fact about the Fiesta’s handling: Ford’s engineers have dialled back the resistance of the steering by around 20%. This is the polar opposite of what many firms are doing these days – adding extra weight that they assume translates to ‘feedback’ about what the front wheels are experiencing under the car.

So on the face of it you’d think Ford’s approach might make for steering less impressive than before, but you’d be wrong. It does feel lighter for sure, but instead there’s a wonderfully immediate and predictable response on initial turn-in. This is something Ford is a master at, and it shows. You can flick the Fiesta across bending B-roads with huge amounts of confidence because you can tell exactly what it’s going to do.

In fact, the whole chassis is a masterpiece. The amount of grip is higher than ever, but it’s the way it instantaneously corners brilliantly and soaks up lumps and bumps in the road that really stand out. In fairness the seventh-generation Fiesta was particularly good at this too, but jumping out of rival cars it’s very noticeable indeed. The Fiesta’s turning circle isn’t the largest in the sector but we’re pleased to confirm a three-point turn is possible without too much in the way of driver arm-flailing.

Ford’s technicians have done lots of work on the brakes, too, with a sharper initial bite and far shorter stopping distances. This doesn’t translate to a ‘grabby’ pedal feel, though – like the rest of the car’s handling it feels very well resolved.

How does the Ford Fiesta ST-Line handle?

Even better than the rest of the range we’ve tried so far. This is because Ford has significantly re-engineered the Fiesta’s chassis for this model, with even more responsive steering and a 10mm ride height drop to keep bodyroll in check. While it’s fair to assume ride comfort should suffer as a result, we found the difference – during back-to-back evaluation – to be minimal at worst. To really appreciate the Ford Fiesta, you’ll want to take one of these for a test drive.

There's plenty of grip with the standard 17-inch wheels, (ST-Line X comes with larger 18s), with a little bit smile-inducing rotation from the rear, as before.