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Ford Fiesta

8/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Ford Fiesta

£12,440£22,960

Driving

What is it like on the road?

Ford Fiesta ST Line front quarter

There are two distinct suspension set-ups at launch. The Zetec, Titanium and Vignale have a comfort-oriented setup. This standard chassis retains the characteristic Fiesta sense of agility and feel as you swing it into a bend. It also resists understeer very gamely, subtly using the unseen hand of brake applications on the inside wheel.

On very quick twisty roads with three-dimensional corners, the damping can get a bit uncertain, leading to a corkscrewing of the body. Even in a straight line, fast crests and undulations will send it into a vertical wave motion. Also, all versions of the new Fiesta have a wider track and grippier tyres than the old one, so naturally it’s able to corner at faster speeds and put the damping under greater duress.

The ST-Line is even more sure of itself. Thank its lower ride, stiffer springs, firmer dampers, stronger rear twist-beam and firmer front anti-roll bar, and even re-calibrated steering assistance and ESP tune.

So body roll is always lower, the steering more precise even when there’s strong cornering load. Unlike older superminis, you steer with the wheel – there isn’t much chance of trimming the line on the throttle. But then the steering is so precise that’s not much of an issue. It’s not as brilliantly transparent and tweakable on the limit as a Mini, but then we still have the true ST to come.

Although the ST-Line has a tauter ride than the base chassis, overall comfort isn’t really compromised except over sharp bumps at town speed. The base suspension is pretty plush in town. For the way most people drive, the Titanium’s and Vignale’s combination of small-car agility and big-car ride is a well-judged compromise.

The 140bhp version of the Ecoboost 1.0 remains pretty much a hoot to use, with shedloads of mid-range puff and a boisterous enthusiasm to rev to its 6,600rpm cut-out. Its three-part harmony is subtly enhanced via the speakers, but that’s kept to a plausible rather than cartoonish level.

Its main irritation (and this isn’t new) is that it hangs onto the revs after you lift the throttle and press the clutch. That makes quick but smooth upward shifts a challenge. But the new six-speed gearbox itself has a well-greased and precise stick action, and well-chosen ratios. You swap around between them for fun not because you always have to.

The new 120bhp diesel is refined for a compression-ignition supermini. The suspension engineering and chassis electronics mean you don’t often feel the extra weight in the nose, either.

At a cruise, the steering holds its lane well. Wind noise isn’t at all bothersome, especially not in the Titanium and Vignale, which have a double-laminated windscreen to muffle the noise.

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Dacia Sandero

£5,780£10,640
It takes something to beat the best in class. Take an alternative tack and try the cheapest in the class, Dacia's Sandero. It's half the price...
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