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Ford Fiesta Zetec S TDCi

Driven February 2005

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After growing up all prim and proper, the current generation Fiesta is becoming a bit wild in its middle age. Three years after launch, here's a whole gang of sportier ones. The punchy little ST leads the charge, but there is also a pair of Zetec S versions, between the dreary if competent mainstream models and the ST. The body kit and seats are most of the way to an ST's, and the 16-inch alloys look the part.

One of the Zetec Ss is a 1.6 petrol, but I'm in a 1.6 diesel. It's a modern and perky engine, with 90bhp of power (OK) and 150lb ft of torque (decidedly interesting), so the Fiesta scoots elastically out of corners. It doesn't like to rev, so you have to use the gears a fair bit to keep it on the top of that hill of torque, but it's a usefully brisk car all the same. And like any Fiesta, corners are food and drink to it. The suspension set-up is about halfway between standard and the ST. That's enough stiffness to stop it leaning over when you're being keen, but it's still got a perfectly decent ride by most supermini standards - it's taut, yes, but consistent and never harsh.

To be honest, there are more exciting places to put 12-and-a-half grand. But with group six insurance and nearly 63mpg, this might be a canny way to worm around the restrictions of your company car scheme.

Paul Horrell

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