It is broadly similar to its older sibling, the mark VI, which was unveiled in 2002.
Squint at the new car from a distance and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference, but there are a few changes, inside and out, to the facelifted version which Ford hopes will make an already popular package even better.
There are new, reshaped light clusters front and rear and the bumpers and bonnet have been given a more chunky feel.
The older car had a rather scratchy interior feel and so the dashboard in the latest car has been textured with soft-feel plastics.
Our test car was a 1.25-litre Zetec Climate, with 74bhp. The changes to the exterior work well – the car still looks modern even though it’s essentially a four-year-old design.
The new lights make a big difference, thanks to their three-dimensional casings, and the new bodystyling gives it a more purposeful and less utilitarian look.
Inside, the soft-touch dashboard – a dashing red in our car – is a huge improvement over its predecessor, but it’s a shame that other interior panels didn’t get a similar makeover.
Look sideways or down and that horrible scratch plastic remains and is as nasty as it used to be, despite being solidly put together.
However, Ford has thrown extra goodies in to ease the blow.
A great favourite was the auxiliary-in socket in the centre console, into which can be plugged either an iPod or any other miscellaneous MP3 players.
Don’t expect to be able to control it via the car stereo buttons – it’s not that high-tech – but it’s still a great plus to be able to listen to a digital music collection on the move. Just make sure you put together a playlist before you set off.
Once out on the road, the Fiesta is much more fun than its modest power would suggest.
As with the previous incarnation, it handles like a go-kart – nippy through city traffic but still fun on the twisty bits. The ride is firm, but not harsh.
Steering feel and weight are good, and the 1.25-litre engine is spirited, if not over-endowed, with power.
This lack of oomph can mean a noisy drive when the engine is pushed, particularly on the motorway.
However, the gearbox is precise and solid and completes a good driver package.
Features specific to the Zetec Climate trim level include heated electric door mirrors and the indispensable Quickclear heated front windscreen.
It wasn’t cold enough to test these during our time with the car, but the heated screen on our long-term Focus is a godsend on frosty mornings.
The new Fiesta is not really new, but a tweaked version of a product already available.
A sleeker look and more modern dash can’t really disguise the fact that this car is getting on a bit, but that said, it’s still well put together and fun to drive.
Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec Climate 5dr
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £10,062
CO2 emissions (g/km): 139
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 15%
Graduated VED rate: £105
Insurance group: 4
Combined mpg: 42.8
CAP Monitor residual value: £3,400/32%
Depreciation 11.31 pence per mile x 60,000: £6,786
Maintenance 2.04 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,224
Fuel 8.96 pence per mile x 60,000: £5,376
Wholelife cost 22.31 pence per mile x 60,000: £13,386
Typical contract hire rate: £266
At a glance
We don’t like
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
THE Clio is the cheapest car to buy, but comes without alloy wheels, and heated electric mirrors are the most an owner could boast about. For an extra £440 the Micra includes a six-CD changer, but again makes do with steel wheels. The Fiesta is another £150, but includes 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights. The Corsa is the most expensive, more than £800 more than the Clio, but it also has 15-inch alloys.
THE Micra will be the cheapest car to service and maintain and is the only model to drop below the two pence per mile barrier. A fleet running the Nissan over three years and 60,000 miles can expect to pay £1,146 in garage bills. The Clio and Corsa are expected to cost the same over the same period – £1,224 – while the Fiesta is comparatively expensive at £1,296, which is £150 more than the Nissan.
FOR the most miles for your money, the Corsa is the car to go for. Over 60,000 miles, expect the Vauxhall to drink its way through £5,292 worth of petrol. Both the Micra and Clio are forecast to need exactly the same amount over the same period, so budget for a fuel bill of £5,376 each. The Ford is again behind with a fuel bill of £5,472, almost £200 more than the Corsa. However, all figures depend on drivers matching the claimed fuel economy figures.
BOTH the Clio and Fiesta are expected to be worth £3,400 after three years and 60,000 miles according to CAP. But the Clio loses less – £6,662 – because of its lower P11D price. The Micra will hold on to 29% of its value, losing £7,502 over the same period, while the Corsa lags some way behind. A relatively poor RV of 26%, some way explained by the fact a new model is due soon, means a fleet can expect to lose £8,102 on the Vauxhall during its working life.
THE Clio continues its strong performance by being the cheapest car to run over three years/60,000 miles. It’s the cheapest to buy and holds its value better than its rivals. A fleet running the Renault can expect it to cost £13,386 over its life. The Fiesta is second, more than a penny per mile more expensive than the Clio. The Ford will cost £14,016, the Micra will set a fleet back £14,022 while the Corsa will cost £14,616.
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
ANOTHER first for the Clio, which shares top spot for emissions cleanliness with the Corsa. A 22% taxpayer can expect to pay £27.67 a month in company car tax for the Renault and £29.91 for the Vauxhall, thanks to its higher P11D value. All the models featured fall into the lowest 15% benefit-in-kind tax bracket, despite small differences in their CO2 emissions. The monthly bill for the Ford will be £29.29 and the Micra’s tax demand will equate to £28.88.
ALTHOUGH it doesn’t pack some of the features of its rivals, the Clio is visibly on top here. It is the cheapest model to buy, the least polluting (thus offering the lowest driver tax bills) and is the cheapest to run during its fleet life by some way. Servicing costs are entirely respectable and only a slight lack of fuel economy let it down. Against economies like this, the competition cannot match the Renault.