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Ford Fiesta Hatch


Ford's Fiesta is arguably the most functional (some might say boring) recent arrival in the small car segment.

The emphasis here is on practicality - a car to get from A to B - rather than high-performance or style.

But the Fiesta is compact without being uncomfortable; it's also economical, user-friendly and easy to drive.

It's not particularly fast, nor luxurious nor overly pretty to look at.

However, what it sets out to do, it does well.

The Fiesta offers excellent visibility through the deep front screen.

The Fiesta's good manoeuvrability and tight turning circle make it well-suited to congested city roads.

The major controls are crisp-acting and light in use.

The high-mounted gearlever is conveniently-placed and natural to use.

The Fiesta's agility and secure on-road feel at city speeds reinforces driver confidence.

The car is easy to park despite its small rear window and undersized exterior mirrors.

The Fiesta is competent on the open road, with crisp handling and good feedback from the steering and chassis.

Low levels of road noise and well-damped wind roar tend to emphasise engine noise, though the Fiesta is generally mechanically refined.

The 1.6-engine provides brisk performance and pulls convincingly at high revs. It also has enough low-end urge to make progress incisive.

But the Fiesta's size and weight knock it back on hills, where it doesn't generate quite the go that you'd hoped for.

A well laid-out cabin and commanding driving position add to the car's appeal.

There's plenty of legroom both in the front and rear cabins and exceptional headroom. The Fiesta can comfortably accommodate four adults. The front seats are a little disappointing - the cushion is too unyielding and the seat provides insufficient support; and the upper seatbelt mounting is too low for taller drivers, even at its highest point.

The spacious boot is unlocked by pushing a button adjacent to the instrument panel. A wide opening facilitated by the high position of the rear lights helps make loading and unloading easier.

The absence of a boot catch release was frustrating at times. The Fiesta has a 60/40-split-folding rear seat backrest; a generous glovebox and storage spaces in the doors.

The small LCD fuel and temperature displays are hard to read.

The car's sound system has a couple of nice touches.

The Compact Disc player only holds one disc but loads without a loading time delay.

Turn the car off with Robbie Williams still blaring and the volume will be reduced automatically, so that when the system is turned back on the noise has dropped to a more-listener friendly level.

The sound is good at lower decibels, but push it up and the audio soon deteriorates and becomes shrill and abrasive.

The rear cabin sound was a disappointing - barely audible at times particularly with the rear windows down.

- Story by Tristan Ogden

Auto Trader New Zealand