The design of the new Fiesta definitely gives it a more upmarket look. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The design of the new Fiesta definitely gives it a more upmarket look. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Earlier this week I was at the traffic lights when a Ford Fiesta XR2 pulled up alongside me.

Honestly, I looked at it longingly and tried in vain to explain to my five-year-old why it was so cool. The problem is that while it is undoubtedly a modern classic, it has none of the things that will be important to my daughter when she eventually starts driving, nor in fact to many people buying into the Fiesta segment today.

In the case of the new Fiesta 1.0T Titanium we had on test, it has a spec list running into pages, which makes sense given that it costs more than three hundred grand these days. For that though, this flagship has cool LED daytime running lights that are a signature design item.

It has a Sync touchscreen infotainment system which can stream music from iTunes or Spotify, although the screen seems directed towards the passenger rather than the driver. Perhaps its a nod towards bigger left-hand drive markets.

It has comfortable and supportive seats and a host of safety features in stark contrast to those on the early Fiesta models. Compared to the XR2, it’s a luxury machine.

The styling of the new generation Fiesta is definitely characterful. Designers these days are going with gaping grilles and the Fiesta is no exception, having a sort of cheeky shark look about it. It works well though, giving the Fiesta more presence than before and it’s all complemented by lashings of chrome in this top-spec version to add to that luxury look.

The rear features massive lights that make the car look bigger than it is of course, but these slot into a rear design that is, frankly, a little Korean in its execution. I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing, but unlike the front the rear lacks its own visual identity in this regard.

Underneath the bonnet sits a rather nice 1.0l turbocharged motor pushing out 74kW and 170Nm. With peak power between 4,500 and 6,500r/min, you do need to rev it quite hard to get the most of it, but the lower torque band of 170Nm from 1,500 does help. The change from the Powershift gearbox to a regular six-speed auto is to be welcomed, reducing the gearbox judder and improving dramatically on the fuel consumption figure.

We still failed to get anywhere near the claimed 5.2l/100km, instead hovering in the upper eights around town, but it’s a big difference from the 13s the previous generation Powershift version gave us when we tested that. The drive is good with little lag, something that Ford is good at, and around town the Fiesta nipped through traffic with ease. Occasionally the paddle shifts were called into play but that was just for the odd moment of driver enjoyment.

The ride comfort is good too and I’m sure exceptionally better than the XR2. In a comparison test, the latest generation will probably out-handle the original little pocket hatch and will certainly have less body roll.

Interior space is good, with plenty of space in the rear for the child seats and decent legroom for those who are a little older. Boot space is good at 303l and this can be expanded to 984l if you fold the seats down.

The interior features great ergonomics and equipment. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The interior features great ergonomics and equipment. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Materials are all of a high quality, although it has to be said the overall feeling is it lacks some of the solidity of its key rival, the Volkswagen Polo. There’s just something about German engineering, but the Fiesta comes close and the quality of the finishes certainly beats others like the Renault Clio or Hyundai i20. It’s definitely miles better than the terrible materials in the latest Toyota Yaris.

Overall, the latest generation Fiesta is a superb package, offering great looks, great equipment and a decent engine and gearbox combination. It’s still not quite the Polo, especially if you can splash out on the tech in the VW, but it’s easily our second best choice in the segment.