Fleet News

Ford Fiesta 1.4 Zetec 5dr - 10,080 miles

Ford

Review

OUR Ford Fiesta has run trouble-free for the past few months, and during my recent spell behind the wheel reached the 10,000 mile mark. That works out at an average of more than 1,000 miles a month since it came to us last October, which goes to show the little Ford has been used for some significant trips.

And I don't think the high-mileage work has been a result of a lack of cars more suited to the long hauls on our fleet. I think the reason could be that the Fiesta is beginning to change people's perceptions of what a small car should be like.

If my childhood memory serves me correctly, it was the second-generation Fiesta that was described by the marketing people as 'The small car that thinks big'.

But it is this fourth-generation model launched last year that really thinks big. It might not be the first choice for a long journey, but one or two colleagues driving it have thought twice before asking for an alternative for their trip. And more often than not they have settled for the Fiesta.

They have discovered the Fiesta will carry four people comfortably and has a decent-sized boot. And despite its modest 79bhp, it is actually quite fun to drive.

Ford tried to create a small car that was as sensible as the Volkswagen Polo, but also boasted much of the driver appeal of the larger Focus.

So the steering and roadholding are first rate. The ride is superb for a small car, and the optional 16-inch wheels provide plenty of grip when you feel like taking those bends on country lanes a few miles per hour faster than you normally would.

The gearstick might look too tall at first glance, but when you first use it, you realise it has been designed so it can be reached comfortably when dropping your left hand off the steering wheel momentarily.

Possibly the only aspect to take the shine off the driving enjoyment is the dull tone of the 1.4-litre engine. The efforts put in to ensuring the car feels right from the driver's point of view have not been stretched to ensuring it sounds right. But this is nit-picking – we're talking about a bread-and-butter supermini here.

The CD player is upgraded to the in-dash six-CD changer and we have air conditioning fitted, which makes longer journeys far more pleasant when it is hot. If company car drivers are being persuaded to downsize, it's thanks to the all-round excellence of cars such as the Fiesta.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer): £27 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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