Car Test   R0305
January 2003
  Ford Fiesta
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.4LX 5door
It has the same name, but this new Fiesta goes off in a different direction from the old one. This five door is longer, taller and (135kg) heavier than its namesake, which, in LX trim, used a 1.25-litre version of this carried-over, all-alloy engine.
   It now needs the extra cc’s and brake-horses – and then some; our realistic measure of acceleration (from 30 to 70mph) proved one second slower than with the old 1.25 and three seconds adrift compared with the previous incarnation 1.4 (sporting 90bhp). We’re not altogether surprised, however – VW’s Polo suffers a similar fate.
   The Fiesta’s fuel economy takes a more serious bashing, however – in every type of use, that extra bulk takes a heavy toll. Whatever reason you have for moving towards this version of Ford’s supermini, slashing fuel costs should not be one of them.
   All this criticism is a pity because, statistics to one side, the Fiesta 1.4 excels in smoothness and ease; it pulls affably in traffic, runs along the motorway with impeccable sobriety and its gearchange is a sheer delight.
   Discerning drivers will like the driving position as well. It’s better suited than most smaller cars to coping with a range of shapes and sizes.
   This 1.4 rides the bumps reasonable well (even on our test car’s less-forgiving 50-Series low-profile tyres), but when it comes to a series of inviting, open bends, it’s lost some spunk. The previous version almost spoke the words, ‘Try me!’, whereas this new one responds with, ‘Must we?’ Still tidy, but less engaging.
   Like the latest competition, the Fiesta has now grown away from being a truly small car – that spot continues to be occupied by Ka. Interior dimensions are mostly 3-5cm improved, and this five door is easier to enter and leave (especially in the rear). There are still door and load deck sills to negotiate, but generally, the Fiesta can now cope with days out with the family – so long as nobody is really lanky.
   There are signs of skimping when it comes to rear seat folding, however, - Polo/Fabia, and especially the Honda Jazz, are much cleverer.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of  not available
theft from  not available
  • sun visors, over-mirror shield keep out sun glare
  • rear head restraints recess into backrest
  • excellent wind sealing
  • take-away ashtray/oddments holder
  • radio controls big and bold
  • rear load area poorly trimmed
  • scuff-prone bumpers and sills
  • door receptacles too slim
  • wiper blind spot on driver's lower right
Having already sampled Fiesta’s new diesel and found it a leisurely but sweet-natured performer, we now find ourselves coming to exactly the same conclusion about this 1.4 petrol version. Of course, it’s a bit quicker than the diesel, but then, in turn, the diesel stretches a gallon another 17 miles. This supermini market sector is growing fast and Ford’s new contender is right up there with the best of them for everyday, low-hassle motoring – with more space inside than most. The actual driving experience doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessor’s, however, and keener types should definitely consider upgrading to the 1.6, to obtain a decent turn of speed. But if that’s more than you want to pay for the Fiesta’s space and comfort, have a good look at the Skoda Fabia instead.

engine engine 1388cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 80bhp at 5700rpm, 91 lb ft at 3500rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 16 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 21.3mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.0 in 4th.
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.8 turns lock-to-lock; 10.2m diameter turning circle between kerbs (14.1m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front; drums rear, with optional ABS on test car   wheels/tyres 5in steel with 175/65R14T tyres standard. (Alloy wheels with 195/50R15 tyres on test car); 65-Series steel spare

size and type 3- and 5-door (mid-priced) supermini (Fusion is an MPV-style derivative)   trim levels Finesse, LX, Zetec, Ghia
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.3 litre/68bhp, 4/1.4/80, 4/1.6/100
diesel: 4/1.4/68
  drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive ("Durashift EST" auto-shift synchomesh optional with 1.4 petrol)

HOW THE FIESTA 1.4 16V COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Ford Fiesta 1.4 16v 4/1388/80 3290 14.1 21.3/32.7 38.5/158 18/26.5 108 98/71 2.8/10.2 392
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 4/1199/75 3700 14.4 20.7/30.7 45/151 14/24 106 95/70 2.9/10.3 382
Peugeot 206 1.4 4/1360/75 3330 12.7 20.2/30.3 43/157 13/25 108 94/66 3.3/10.1 384
VW Polo 1.4 4/1390/75 3280 15.0 22.8/35.1 42/156 18/26 108 96/71 2.9/10.2 390
Honda Jazz 1.4 4/1329/82 3400 12.7 20.3/27.1 45.5/134 14/27 107 95/74 3.6/10.1 383
previous Fiesta 1.25 4/1242/75 3620 13.1 18.5/28.1 42/161 16/28 108 92/66 2.8/10.1 383

Everything conveniently to hand with the longish gear lever proving a delight. Reasonable seat support, with both taller and shorter drivers well catered for. Vision problems confined to minor gauges. Good view aft and sun visors effective, too.
Stable and confident handling, but somehow lacks the vivacity and aplomb of the previous version. Good to park, with head restraints that recede out of the sight-line. Our test car's grip and braking enhanced by lower-profile tyres.
Firm but jolt-free ride - probably even more supple on standard wheels/tyres. Very affable (if gutless) in low-speed pulling and always quiet at legal speeds. Excellent heating up front (with instant temperature variation now), but poor rear flow.

Like several recent, enlarged rivals, Fiesta's acceleration has suffered. 1.25 old-shape Fiesta a second quicker from 30 to 70mph, let alone the old 1.4! Weight is the culprit. Superb gearchange and clutch come to the rescue when overtaking, however.
  acceleration in seconds through gears* 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.9 10.6 16.2
  30-50mph 5.1 10.6 15.0
  40-60mph 6.8 10.6 16.2
  50-70mph 9.0 11.0 17.7
  30-70mph 14.1 21.3 32.7
  max speed in each gear (* using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      27      50      76      101

The Focus 1.6 does better than this in real-life driving. The motorway result is especially disappointing. A reasonable range between forecourt visits and unfraught filling, however. Fuel cost-cutters should think diesel.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 26
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 33.5
    motorway (70mph cruising) 36.5
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 39.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 45
    overall mpg 38.5
    realistic tank capacity/range 39/330
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 32.1/52.3/42.2#
    CO2 emissions 158g/km#
    car tax band C
# with optional 50-Series tyres

Better pedestrian protection than many offer, but improved Isofix child-seat mountings soon. Brakes sensible and effective with ABS option - it should be standard - but pressing hard erodes stopping efficiency significantly.
  from 50mph (with optional ABS)
front impact     69%
side impact     78%
overall     73%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     43m
sudden 18kg     26.5m best stop
+ 4kg 22kg     30m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

This is where the new Fiesta scores - room enough for four, and the luggage accommodation is better than average, as well. A pity, therefore, that the load deck is sparsely trimmed and that the cushion isn't split, like the backrest.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 392
  width - including mirrors 191
    - mirrors folded 172
  height 142
  load sill height (inside/outside) 18/66
  turns lock-to-lock 2.8
  turning circle (metres) 10.2
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 88-108
    - headroom 95-102§
  rear - typical legroom 98
    - typical kneeroom 71
    - headroom 91§
    - hiproom 125
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 55-124~
  load length to facia no
  load width 100-128
  load height (to shelf/top of aperture) 57 83
§ no sunroof  ~ rear seat folded

LX comes with deadlocks and an alarm that work in response to keyholes or handset. It's a straight forward system that should prove effective in NCSR tests. Poor boot security from interior, however - as with most hatches.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter)   
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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