A few weeks ago a friend and I were on a country walk which at one point involved climbing over a stile. Despite being considerably the older party, well past retirement age, he made by far the better job of it. We speculated light-heartedly that he, with his engineering background, immediately set his mind to solving the problem while I, with my arts background, was thinking more about colour combinations.
Perhaps because of this, my initial impression of the test car was entirely visual. When I first saw a 2017-on Fiesta I thought it looked bulbous and over-styled, though this might have been because it was parked next to a 1979 Mk1, still to my eyes one of the most neatly designed superminis there has ever been.
I continue to think that to some extent, but the Fiesta shown here is one of the nicest I’ve seen in the current generation. True, the eye-catching CAR 1 registration number may have had something to do with that. What really appealed to me, though, was the colour.
It’s called Blue Wave, and it costs £745. If, in the unlikely event that you’re still buying cars outright rather than on a finance scheme, you think of £745 as a thing in itself, it’s a startling amount of money for something you don’t actually need, but my word it makes the Fiesta look good.
Appearances did not deceive. This is the Fiesta I have most enjoyed driving in the past year. Admittedly it has its faults, most of them due to the fact that despite several upgrades and facelifts this is essentially an old car which Ford has not structurally altered in a decade.
The lack of legroom in the back, the only moderate luggage capacity (a little short of 300 litres) and the dreadful rear visibility were not appealing in 2008, and they are starting to look ridiculous now.
Generally, though, Fiestas of the current era have been good to drive, unless they have had three-cylinder petrol engines, in which case they have felt – every last one of them – as if someone prematurely signed off the suspension while the rest of the chassis development team was on a lunch break.
The car tested here has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel. It’s a lot heavier than the three-cylinder petrol and it should make the car ride and handle worse. Except it doesn’t. Somehow the inherent dynamic advantage of the three-cylinder cars has been allowed to fade away, while the diesels have been set up quite brilliantly.
Everything is better. The 1.5 diesel deals more capably with both small and large bumps (even in the case of the test car, which had optional 17″ wheels rather than the standard 16s), it’s easier to drive in town and it’s more fun to drive on twisting country roads. It shouldn’t be more fun than the lighter cars, but it is.
There are other advantages too. The diesel produces a maximum of 118bhp, which is a healthy amount for a non-sporting supermini, and the official combined fuel economy figure is 80.7mpg. Over 90 should be possible if you try very hard, over 100 if you’re prepared to enrage fellow road users. In normal road use, you can be confident of averaging about 60 as long as you don’t spend all your time in towns and cities.
Titanium is a fairly high trim level in the Fiesta range, so you get quite a lot of equipment, though since the 1.5 TDCi costs only £25 short of £19,000 you would rather hope to.
You can, of course, spend a lot more. With the Blue Wave paintwork and the 17″ wheels, plus an openable sunroof, door edge protectors, electric rear windows (they’re manual on the standard Titanium), automatic park assistance, front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera and the ten-speaker B&O Play audio system, this car has a list price of £21,730. To me, that’s a lot for a mainstream supermini, no matter how good it looks.
Engine size 1499cc
Top speed 121mph
0-62mph 9.0 seconds
Fuel economy 80.7mpg combined
CO2 emissions 89g/km
Towing capacity 1000kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2017) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 87% Child occupant 84% Pedestrian 64% Safety assist 60%
Information correct at publication date