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Fiesta: still the one to beat

CAR OF THE WEEK: Ford Fiesta, price range £12,715 - £21,225

I WILL always have an affinity with the Ford Fiesta. Many moons ago when I was in my proverbial short trousers, it was the first car I could say I owned after my father parted with his hard earned money. I was made up as it was no ordinary Fiesta either. In fact it was a Ghia version which had some class about it a wood trim and electric windows, which was progressive at the time.

So when I was reunited with a Fiesta, via a test drive on this occasion, I was excited to say the least. Essentially the Fiesta is a supermini marketed by Ford since 1976 over seven generations and manufactured globally, including in Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, China, India, Thailand, and South Africa.

The 2017 Fiesta is understandably light years away from my humble beginnings. The new look is most apparent at the rear, where horizontally arranged tail lamps create a noticeably different vibe. The lights are split, meaning the tailgate opens with a wide aperture to take in your luggage.

It’s not a big boot at 303 litres, but it’s fair by supermini standards. Just watch out for a pronounced - and deep - lip over which to lug your bags. You can choose either three-door or five-door forms. The entry-level 1.1-litre petrol engine has 69bhp, although there’s a version of the same engine with a more powerful 84bhp.

The 1.0 Ecoboost engines have been carried over from the previous Fiesta, and the 100 (99bhp) version remains popular. It’s a good engine that is nimble in the city and comfortable on longer trips. The 125 (123bhp) version offers a step up in pace from the 100 while the 138bhp version moves at a pace. There are also two 1.5-litre TDCi engines available.

The Fiesta combines small car fun with big car sophistication, and that’s true of the way it rides. This vehicle is the best-handling small car on the market, no question. The cockpit has gone up a gear too. The 8.0in touchscreen that comes on Titanium models and above is bright and relatively simple to use. Big-selling Zetec and ST-Line trims have a smaller 6.5in touchscreen that doesn’t have a built-in sat-nav.

Meanwhile, all trims apart from entry-level style come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to add your phone and control selected apps through the car’s touchscreen. The upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system is a thing of beauty and well worth considering if you love music. I do and my Spotify tracks sounded sublime as I went about my business. This comes as standard on B&O editions, while a glovebox-mounted CD player is optional on all Fiestas.

Fiesta means ‘party’ in Spanish and after a seven day evaluation of the latest generation of Ford’s best seller, I did exactly that! Nobody does it better than Ford in terms of producing superminis. They have sold over 16 million Fiestas since 1976, the latest offering means that figure will increase dramatically.

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