By Bill McCarthy
There is a very good reason why the Fiesta regularly has been Britain’s top selling car. That reason stretches right back to the very early days of the British icon which was introduced in 1976.
Just a few years ago, I owned a 1980 version and it was still running well when I sold it on to an enthusiast.
The Fiesta has that longevity for a reason. It is a car to suit most pockets, from the relatively cheap base model at around £16.5k right up to the range topper at prices beyond £25k. It has proved reliable, practical, economical and a cracking drive.
The latest version is no different, with ever more eye-catching styling, good standard levels of equipment and, in this case, embracing the latest mild hybrid technology.
It featuresl sharp angles with ST Line bodykit features, rear privacy glass, smart projector headlights and fog lamps with cornering lights. The powered door mirrors also feature smart puddle lights.
The ST-Line is a stylish car, offering the sporty styling more akin to the brutal ST, but toned down performance from a still lively three cylinder petrol engine.
It still delivers pleasing performance, with the signature rasp of the three pot giving a pleasing sound under acceleration.
It is no slouch. The 125PS unit propels the car to 60mph in under 10 seconds and delivers excellent fuel economy, with a claimed range of between 45 and 62mpg according to WLTP figures.
The turbocharged one litre engine is assisted by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which features a small lithium-ion battery pack and a belt-driven integrated starter-generator, which adds an extra 20Nm of torque and helps mitigate turbo lag.
The electric motor is fitted alongside an energy recovery system on the brakes which can then be redeployed to assist the petrol engine or provide assistance to electrical systems.
It may lack the brutal performance of its more powerful sibling, but in true Fiesta style, the handling is excellent and ride is firm, thanks to the sports tuned suspension which keeps the car clinging, limpet-like to the road, even with rapid cornering.
The interior too looks upmarket and maintains the sporty look. The centrepiece is an eight‑inch colour touchscreen that can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures and controls function like navigation, infotainment and smartphone connectivity with screen mirroring.
The flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel offers other control options and the layout is unfussy and intuitive.
Interior fixtures and fittings are typically well put together and feel sturdy, while the optional pop-out door guards are another neat feature.
Other features include a centre console with illuminated cupholders, sports pedals, starter button and two USB connectors.
This model will set you back more than £21k, but has plenty of standard kit, including parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, auto dim mirror, seven-speaker sound system and heated windscreen.
On the road, the car feels brisk and with a little help from the hybrid technology’s hits 60 seconds in just 9.4 seconds. It is mated to a typically slick Ford six-speed box, although the high-riding clutch took a while to get used to.
It is the handling that gives this car the edge of most of its rivals. The steering is instantly responsive and it feels totally stable even when cornering at high speeds.
To aid this it includes stability control, together with a host of other safety features, including full complement of airbags, lane keeping alert and aid, speed limiter, auto headlamps and hill start assist.
In practical terms, boot space is decent and increases with the split folding rear seats. This takes capacity from a basic 292 litres up to 1,093 litres.
Forty-five years and still going strong. You can see why.
Ford Fiesta ST-Line Edition
Mechanical: 125bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine mild hybrid, driving front wheels via six speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 126 mph
0-62mph: 9.4 secs
Combined mpg: 45-62 (WlTP)
Insurance group: 13
CO2 emissions: 117 g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles