The new Ford Fiesta – First Drive

‘Is the new Fiesta really boy-racer protected?’

Price: from £9,795  (£15,195 as tested)
Engine capacity: 1.6 TDCi 
Power output (bhp @ rpm):  94 @ 3,500
Top speed (mph): 111
0-62mph (seconds): 12.9
Fuel economy (mpg): 85.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 87

You’ve flicked through Auto Trader, compared prices online, haggled with your local dealer and finally decided you want to join the army of nearly 110,000 car buyers who drive away in  a shiny new Ford Fiesta every year. Good choice. It’s Britain’s most popular car for many reasons, but why on earth would you go for it in Hot Mustard? The latest model, which launched this month, is good value, economical and fitted with a host of new technology, so why ruin it with a paint job inspired by the mess found in a greedy toddler’s nappy?

This is exactly what went through my mind when the new Fiesta arrived at my door last week. It was also the reaction of my flatmates, my neighbours, the nice lady in the my local Sainsbury’s car park and the  gruff guy at Bishop’s Stortford services off the M11 and, well, basically everyone I saw on my travels.

Taste is subjective, of course, but of the dozens of people I quizzed, not one would confess to actually liking it. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out this will do to its resale value. Thankfully the Fiesta is as ubiquitous as the potholes on Britain’s roads for more than its colourful paint work, though, and the new model has had a mid-life update to keep it fresh.

Car manufacturers can pull a smoke and mirrors job with mid-life updates, releasing little more than a set of pricey new alloy wheels and a fiddly infotainment system, but the 2013 Fiesta has a new Aston Martin-inspired front grille, updated headlights, new engines and a host of the latest safety kit, including Ford’s MyKey system. It’s been available in America for a while but MyKey is essentially a second key (for your troublesome teen) that the owner can programme. The idea is that worried parents can set maximum speed and audio volume limits to stop Friday night misbehaviour in the local McDonalds Drive-Thru car park. It also mutes the radio until the seatbelts are fastened and stops the car’s safety systems being switched off. Reassuring for parents and useful for me (10 years out of my teens) to protect my licence on an enticingly empty M11 on a late-night run home.

The biggest news under the bonnet for the 2013 Fiesta is the arrival of the  1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine, which claims to offers diesel-like efficiency in a tiny petrol form.  I tested it in the Focus last year and it’s certainly pulls well, but is an acquired taste to the ear. My test model came fresh from the factory with a 1.6-litre diesel unit offering up to 85.6 mpg. Like the Ecoboost it is probably only worth paying the premium for over the basic 1.25-petrol engine if you’re planning to cover some serious miles.

Regardless, the Fiesta is a pleasant car to drive. The steering is precise with plenty of the right sorts of feedback and the taut body holds the road well if you want to progress rapidly. All this might worry parents with boy- and girl-racers to insure, but Ford knows its onions and the new Fiesta, as well as getting MyKey, has  an improved crash test rating and optional Active City stop, which helps reduce the impact of collisions by applying the brakes if it detects that a crash is imminent. This new Fiesta will sell well, so expect to see grumpy teens driving slowly and quietly around in it. Hopefully mum and dad won’t be cruel enough to make them have it in Hot Mustard, though.

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