The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s most popular car


Price: £16,145
Engine capacity: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 138 @ 600
Top speed (mph): 125
Fuel economy (mpg): 62.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 104

You have to watch car companies: they can be sneaky. Take the Ford Fiesta Black and Red editions. Car buyers might well think that these were unique, special-edition versions of Britain's bestselling car. But that wouldn't be entirely accurate.

The Ford Fiesta is Britain's most popular car thanks to its keen price, efficient range of engines, wide choice of trims and engaging handling, but these editions aren't really anything special. They are far from being bad cars; in fact the Black Edition I drive is superb in many ways. But it follows an increasingly popular trend of car firms to stick on a fancy paint job or a new spoiler and call an established model a "special" or limited edition.

In reality, these cars are much the same as the long-running Zetec S model, which is £500 cheaper and gets the same fierce little one-litre engine – minus the spoiler and fancy paint job. In fairness the Red Edition does get more power from the engine than the standard Zetec S model though. Thanks to the performance boffins at Ford, it gets roughly 15 more horsepower to play with and the gearing has been revised to cut the 31 mph to 62 mph time to just 8.6 seconds.

So, while it’s true this isn’t a radically different car from the standard Zetec model, this extra power boost does make it a hoot to drive, with a delightful performance in an affordable and economic package. In short, this car is what the magazines call a "warm hatchback". Which means it's not as rapid as a full-blooded Fiesta ST or VW Golf GTI, but it's still fairly fast, fun to drive and good to look at, without totally ruining your bank balance at the fuel pumps.

On the move, this is a car that wants to be driven properly rather than just taken from A to B. Straight-line performance never quite lives up to this early promise, but it answers the call for acceleration with an eager desire to please from as a low as 1,500rpm. In all honesty, it soon stops pulling as rapidly as one would like, but that's to be expected. This is still a Fiesta and not a Ferrari, and the desire to rev away is the biggest threat to getting some respectable fuel economy figures.

What you do get for your extra money over the standard Zetec S model is a choice (in a sort of homage to Henry Ford) of two colours – as long as they are black or red. My test car is black with a lipstick-red link trim around the front bumper, a red roof and a red wing mirrors, while the Red edition is reversed. It's quite a neat paint job that makes a common-looking car sparkle a little, and I suppose that's the point.

Given that the Fiesta is Britain's bestselling car of all time, I suppose you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Search for used cars