Years built: 2008 to 2017
Bodystyles: Three-and-five door small hatchback
What is it?
Nine years is a lifetime in the motor industry, and especially the last nine years, which have seen us switch from petrol to diesel and back again, seen the rise of electric cars and hybrids, touchscreens and connected cars, SUVs and crossovers. Yet, through all of that, the Ford Fiesta has been a constant, not just as a big-seller (although it’s unquestionably that) but as once of the best cars in its class, and certainly the best to drive. With its replacement hoving into view this month, it seems an ideal time to look at buying one of Europe’s best-selling cars second hand.
Which one should I buy?
There is a simplicity to the Fiesta which is quite refreshing. In an age where car model ranges have spread ever outwards, the Fiesta has stuck with simple core principles — there have only ever really been three, at most four, engine choices, and two key trim levels. Of those, mid-spec Zetec trim is probably the best one to aim for as it’s sufficiently well equipped to feel like you’re getting the things you need, but without the higher price tag and steeper depreciation of the ritzier Titanium spec version. It is worth tracking down one where the previous owner has spent the extra on the SYNC infotainment system though — although it only gets you the tiniest of display screens, it is useful if you want to play your own music and make hands-free calls from your phone. As a bonus, it too is simple to use and navigate.
As for the engines, the Fiesta at first carried over the 1.25-litre petrol and 1.4 TDCI diesel engines from the 2002-2008 Fiesta (always something of a disappointing car, especially in interior terms) and of those two, it’s the frugal, free-revving, smooth 1.25 that’s the best unit to go for. It doesn’t quite have the headline Co2 figures of the diesel, but it’s nicer by far to drive and almost as economical in real terms.
A 2013 facelift saw the Fiesta get a new face, with a big, bold grille that has more than a touch of Aston Martin about it, and some new engines. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol is the star of this up-dated range, either in turbo or non-turbo forms. With 100hp or 125hp, the turbo versions are almost junior hot hatches, and make the most of the Fiesta’s nigh-legendary combination of sharp steering and chassis balance, but they’re not cheap. The 65hp non-turbo version lacks the power, but is fine for city and town driving, and swings a sweet three-cylinder song when you rev it. The newer 1.5-litre TDCI diesel is also smooth and refined, by diesel standards, but it feels a touch dead to drive with a lack of mid-range torque, so only go for that if you have lots of long journeys to do and need the extra economy. That 2013 facelift also brought with it some improved cabin quality.
How much should I spend? €11-12,000 will get you a 2014 Fiesta on a 141 plate
Here’s one we found:
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 65hp Zetec, 27,400km, one owner, for €12,500 from a franchised Ford dealer.
What goes wrong?
Make sure the headlights are working properly as changing the bulbs on a Fiesta is a nightmare thanks to the car’s tight packaging under the bonnet. While you’re at it, make sure that the black plastic trims which run upward from the backs of the doors is securely in place.
1.4 TDCI diesel suffer from leaking fuel return pipes, which can give of a diesely smell and damage the injectors. You also need to check all engines for their coolant levels, which if low can be a sign of a leaky water pump. The 1.25 engine is hugely reliable though (it was designed by Yamaha, which helps) and there are no reports of major problems with the newer EcoBoost units either.
Inside, the rear seat folding mechanism is prone to failure, while the steering wheels suffer from premature wear to their finish and can look tatty. An erratic heating or air conditioning fan means you need a new motor.
Noises from the front suspension are normally worn anti-roll bar links, while if the car doesn’t sit straight on a level surface, it could be a cracked front spring. Check the wheels too — for some reason Fiesta alloy wheels are prone to buckling out of shape.
Then there’s the best one — the ST. Fitted with a 190hp 1.6-litre turbo engine, the ST has been, since its launch, the reference, the benchmark, the go-to car when it comes to buying something small and fast. With almost perfect steering and handling balance, it is riotously good to drive, and yet is still a practical and sensible Fiesta under the skin. Hugely recommended if you can afford the insurance.
And when you’ve found your perfect Ford Fiesta don’t forget to get it history checked by motorcheck.ie.