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Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Zetec Five-door


Ford Fiesta
My colleague David Morgan drove this car some time before I did, and as he told me how much he liked it I noticed there was a slightly stunned look in his eyes, as if it had exceeded his expectations by a significant margin. During its first couple of days in my care, I have to say, I wasn't sure where the appeal lay. I thought the car was okay, but not much more than that.

Well before the car left me, I had come to realise what Morgan was on about. This Fiesta - very much at the high end of the price range for Ford's supermini - is only moderately appealing to begin with, but gradually its charms become more apparent. I won't say I was heartbroken to let it go; Fiestas do not, on the whole, stir the emotions enough for that. But I do remember it quite fondly.

First impressions are not good, to the extent that if I had been taking a dealer demonstrator out for a half-hour test drive I would probably have decided to buy something else within the first mile. For example, the 1.6-litre TDCi turbo diesel engine (a fine unit in many ways, as we'll see) makes its present felt at all times. By modern standards it's pretty loud at cold tickover, and it continues to sound relentlessly diesely even when cruising.

It doesn't take long to notice that looking backwards is no easy matter in the Fiesta. In this respect the car seems to have been designed by students from the University of Appalling Rear Visibility. This is a general problem with superminis, but it usually applies to ones with three doors. The Fiesta has the worst rear three-quarter blind spots I have encountered in any five-door car of its size.

The ride quality seemed very dodgy right from the start, too. Add to all this the fact that the space for rear passengers is strictly limited - how is that the Japanese are so much better at this than Europeans? - and you can see why I wasn't enthralled by the Fiesta in the early stages of this test. But the good stuff was still to come.

Most of it centred on the engine. Ford's current-generation TDCi diesels are very impressive (outstandingly more so than the antiquated TDDi units they replaced), and although I occasionally wished the one in the Fiesta would shut up and stop bellowing at me there was never any doubt as to its performance or economy.

"How much power does it have?" someone asked me. "Er, about 105bhp, I think," I replied. (Don't ask me details about a car while I'm driving it - I can never remember that stuff.) Later, with the specification details in front of me, I realised I'd overestimated in a big way. The maximum output is actually a far more modest 89bhp.

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Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Zetec Five-door
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