Ford Fiesta ST-Line Vignale review: Supermini beats its rivals for the joy of driving
Hard to believe that the Ford Fiesta is rapidly approaching its 50th birthday. Facts like that could make you feel old.
When the Fiesta was launched in 1976, the passenger side door mirror was an optional extra.
The car has come rather a long way since then, but has usually been Britain’s top-selling new car.
Lately, however, Vauxhall’s Corsa has been taking that slot and since the Ford is not available as anything but a mild hybrid, whereas the Corsa is available as a BEV, the Corsa is well in the fight.
While there’s no news of an electric Fiesta on the way any time soon, Ford has at least updated the car for 2022. On the outside, there’s a very mild facelift.
At the front, there’s a more prominent grille, the Ford badge has been moved further south to the centre of the grille, the bonnet has a new profile and the headlamps are new.
At the back, the tail lights have darker lenses, and that’s about it apart from seven new alloy wheel designs.
Inside, there’s a new 12.3in digital dashboard which is similar to the one fitted in the Puma crossover. Ford has also just updated the Focus and that car also got a bigger infotainment screen and, more importantly, Ford’s SYNC4 software.
Presumably as a money-saving ploy, the Fiesta has the less-effective SYNC3 system. It does the job though.
As this is just a mild facelift and tweak, the interior of the Fiesta is exactly the same. Other rivals have a more cheery cabin design (the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 to name a couple) and nor is the Fiesta the most spacious car in its class again, falling short compared to the Clio and the Corsa. The boot at 311 litres isn’t class-leading.
It all changes when you start driving the Fiesta.
Ever since Ford got serious about building cars that were enjoyable to drive, which started with the original Focus, the Fiesta has been one of the most fun-to-drive superminis on a twisty country lane.
The 2022 edition is no exception. We’re testing a ST-Line Vignale five-door powered by Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol engine in 155PS form.
Even though modern superminis weigh a lot more than their ancestors, that’s still a lot of power for a small car.
Ford quotes a top speed of 136mph and 0-62mph in 8.9sec, which puts it into the very warm hatch category, even if it doesn’t challenge the real-deal Fiesta ST.
Our car, by the way, costs £24,440 without options (of which it has almost £4,000-worth. Ok, so the ST-Line Vignale is at the top of the tree, but it doesn’t seem so long ago that a Fiesta was 15-grand or less.
Even the 200PS ST was under £20k when it was launched.
Our car is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox that has a really nice action. Ford has always been good at this, right back to the original Escort days.
This gearbox coupled to a feisty engine that sounds very characterful is a great combination. Several times over the last year or so we’ve driven several simple superminis that if an EV is impractical for you, or you just don’t want one, would make fantastic transport until you can’t buy petrol (which won’t be in my lifetime).
The Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia, Seat Ibiza and Hyundai i20 are great small cars. None of those, however, are as much fun to drive as the Fiesta.
What’s more, the Fiesta is a hoot regardless of engine power, so it’s possible to go for one of the lower-powered models and save some money but lose out on the grins.
Ford Fiesta ST-Line Vignale Five-door hatchback
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder, 155PS
Fuel consumption 52.3mpg