Fleet News

Ford Fiesta 1.3 Finesse 3dr



LIFE at the bottom of the supermini ladder is the entry point to company cars for many people and a staple of the daily rental industry.

And while those in the five-door market have been able to experience the delights and disappointments of the new Ford Fiesta for the past 15 months, drivers who want three-door versions have had to wait until 2003.

So this is where life in the Ford Fiesta range begins. Priced at £7,995 on-the-road, the 1.3 Finesse is distinguished by its black plastic lower bumper sections front and rear. In fact, this is such an economy-minded model, Ford's press office hasn't spent any money on pictures of one – hence the picture of the higher-spec model shown here.

Inside, the sober plastic interior appears more austere than normal, with the rear window demister the only centre console switch not to be blanked off. However, it is equipped with a CD/radio, a plus point against rival manufacturers that still peddle the idea that people listen to cassettes.

Safety features include twin front airbags, and the car is equipped with central locking, although you have to twist the key in the lock rather than push a button on the key fob.

It's true that all Fiestas come with a leather-trimmed wheel as standard, but at this level who really cares? However, the Fiesta does appear good value when you consider it is one of the most spacious superminis on the market. And compared to its closest rivals on size, it is £500 cheaper on-the-road than a 65bhp Volkswagen Polo, and has much better fuel consumption than the five-door-only Skoda Fabia 1.4 Classic.

On a recent shopping spree, the Fiesta was the ideal transport around the busy Peterborough streets and multi-storey car parks (although I got plenty of exercise winding the windows up and down to deal with the drive-through ticket machines) and the boot is a decent size.

The Fiesta is fun to drive, with sharp handling and quick steering – light enough to make parking easy but also weighty enough to communicate vital information at higher speeds.

It is also supremely comfortable and the Fiesta gains extra points for providing this without sacrificing its crisp handling.

Although there is only 69bhp from its 1.3-litre engine, maximum torque is available from 2,600rpm, which allows the car to feel faster than its 0-62mph time of 15.8 seconds suggests. However, Ford will soon upgrade this to a 1.25-litre motor, which powered the previous Fiesta and can now be found in the new Mazda2. There might be superminis whose on-the-road price is lower than the Fiesta, but few are this roomy and even fewer are as much fun to drive.

Make: Ford
Model: Fiesta 1.3 Finesse 3dr
Engine (cc): 1,299
Max power (bhp/rpm): 69/5,600
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 78/2,600
Max speed (mph): 98
0-62mph (sec): 15.8
Fuel consumption (mpg): 45.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 147
Monthly BIK 2003 (22%): £21.64
CAP Monitor RV: £2,675/34%
Transmission: 5-sp man
Fuel capacity (l/gal): 45/9.9
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £7,995

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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