RAC

Ford Fiesta 1.25 Duratec

Can the entry-level Fiestas still impress? Steve Walker checks out the 1.25-litre range.

Ten Second Review

The bottom end of the Ford Fiesta range isn't the place to go if you're after the performance that will let you make the most of the car's slick driving experience. The 1.25-litre petrol models aren't quick. What they are is comparatively cheap, economical, spacious and well-designed. That should be more than enough if all you want is an urban runabout.

Background

Superminis these days aren't the small fry shopping hatches they once were. Motorists expect a more rounded product when their spending their money in this popular sector of the market and current superminis have grown to accommodate them. Tipping the scales at well over 1,000kg and at around four meters in length, we're talking about substantial bits of metalwork but that raises questions about the engines charged with powering them. Can a supermini still get away with less than 1.3-litres? Ford thinks so, fitting a 1.25-litre unit to its Fiesta. Most superminis do campaign with a 1.2 or even a 1.1-litre unit as their entry-level petrol engine, so Ford is by no means unusual in offering its long serving 1.25-litre powerplant with the Fiesta. How such diminutive engines cope with the varied roles that modern superminis are designed to perform is less clear. The suspicion is always there that the key purpose of such units is to provide an eye-catching opening price for a model range. This will sucker the public in so they can be up-sold to something a little more salubrious and profitable for the manufacturer. So is the Fiesta 1.25 merely a carrot, luring us into the clutches of Ford's sharp suited sales personnel or can we put it down as a worthwhile model in its own right?

Driving Experience

This is not a new engine. It was fitted to the previous generation Fiesta and the one before that, where it was actually replaced by an inferior 1.3-litre unit then reintroduced later on. It's back in this seventh generation Fiesta and now there are a pair of power options for the punters to mull over. The 59bhp entry-level option is predictably lacking in the performance department with the 0-60mph sprint taking a tiresome 16.9 seconds. The 81bhp alternative has more zip about it with a 13.3s sprint but it's still lacking a bit in the muscle needed to propel a car of the Fiesta's size around town in a nippy fashion. Maximum torque is 84Nm at 4,200rpm, whereas the less powerful option produces its 80Nm at a slightly more accessible 3,600rpm. The latest Fiesta is such a slick piece of engineering that it largely masks the deficiency in outright pace with its poise and fluency on the road. This is a fine handling car with its variable power assisted steering providing weighty reassurance at speed and a light touch when manoeuvring. The suspension absorbs bumps expertly and in a manner that puts some far larger cars to shame. The Fiesta provides a huge degree of adjustment in its driving position and even lankier individuals will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. The gearchange is a fraction rubbery in feel but very positive in its action and pleasant to use. Forward visibility is fine but the small rear window and thick C-pillars can present a problem when reversing.

Design and Build

The wedge-effect of the Fiesta in profile doesn't bode well for the rear seat passengers in the three-door car but the Fiesta surprises with decent legroom and headroom that's manageable even for a six-footer. The windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant in the back but the shopping bags, coats and road atlases that owners will store there most of the time won't be overly worried. The five door models fare better with a bigger glass area creating a roomier feel and all derivatives share the same easily navigable control system for their various electronic functions. All Fiestas share Ford's 'Kinetic' design. Themes as seen on the Mondeo, S-MAX, Focus and others are put to work again but the signature features seem to gain cohesion in closer proximity on a smaller car. The eye is led along the creases, across the cutaway surfaces and the multi-angular effect is highly dynamic in total. The interior styling reprises the edgy and angular themes of the outside, the fascia contrasting soft-touch materials with hard silvery plastics. The car feels modern and is very nicely executed in terms of quality with a pronounced modern feel.

Market and Model

It's the price that's going to persuade the majority of Fiesta 1.25 owners to take the plunge. It's the cheapest way to get yourself into Ford's iconic small car and for many, that will be a recommendation in itself. You'll pay just under £12,000 for the entry-level Studio model with the 59bhp engine and three doors. It's not exactly cheap and the specification isn't palatial but you do get body-coloured bumpers, tinted glass, electric power steering, a CD stereo with controls on the steering wheel and the Ford Easy Fuel System that will prevent you from putting diesel in it during a moment of weakness. You pay £400 extra for the 81bhp unit. There are also Edge and Zetec trim levels for the 1.25-litre buyer to consider but these are only offered with the 81bhp engine. All Fiesta models come with ESP stability control, ABS brakes featuring Electronic Brakeforce Distribution plus front, side and knee airbags.

Cost of Ownership

The performance might not be stellar but running costs are agreeably low where the 1.25-litre Fiestas are concerned. Economy and emissions are 51.4mpg and 127g/km from the 59bhp cars while the 81bhp models get 49.6mpg and 129g/km. This might not be a patch on the 67mpg the entry-level diesel model achieves on the combined cycle but it will take a lot of miles to recoup the price premium Ford is asking for that car in fuel savings. The 1.25-litre engine is a tried and tested unit that should prove reliable over the long term and with the 59bhp car squeezing into insurance group 1, these are cars that won't serve up many nasty surprises on the costs front.

Summary

Ford's Fiesta is an outstanding supermini that isn't at its best with a 1.25-litre engine installed under its bonnet. That's no great surprise, of course. These are entry-level engines that will sell on their attractive asking prices, not their sparkling ability on the road. The Fiesta's prowess as a long distance cruiser will be diminished by the lack of power but if performance isn't a priority, the 1.25 models should be perfectly adequate for urban motoring. The Fiesta's other noteworthy qualities will still shine through and that's what will give it the edge over rivals. There's no doubt that modern superminis are able to do a whole lot more than carrying their owner on trips to the shops and other errands about town. Big enough for the whole family, comfortable enough for long journeys, sporty enough to entertain and stylish enough to satisfy the image conscious, these cars really are all-rounders. The 1.25-litre Fiestas don't have quite such a comprehensive array of strengths but they do a lot of what the more expensive options do at a temptingly low cost.

Ford's Fiesta is an outstanding supermini that isn't at its best with a 1.25-litre engine installed under its bonnet. That's no great surprise, of course. These are entry-level engines that will sell on their attractive asking prices, not their sparkling ability on the road. The Fiesta's prowess as a long distance cruiser will be diminished by the lack of power but if performance isn't a priority, the 1.25 models should be perfectly adequate for urban motoring. The Fiesta's other noteworthy qualities will still shine through and that's what will give it the edge over rivals. There's no doubt that modern superminis are able to do a whole lot more than carrying their owner on trips to the shops and other errands about town. Big enough for the whole family, comfortable enough for long journeys, sporty enough to entertain and stylish enough to satisfy the image conscious, these cars really are all-rounders. The 1.25-litre Fiestas don't have quite such a comprehensive array of strengths but they do a lot of what the more expensive options do at a temptingly low cost.

Ford's Fiesta is an outstanding supermini that isn't at its best with a 1.25-litre engine installed under its bonnet. That's no great surprise, of course. These are entry-level engines that will sell on their attractive asking prices, not their sparkling ability on the road. The Fiesta's prowess as a long distance cruiser will be diminished by the lack of power but if performance isn't a priority, the 1.25 models should be perfectly adequate for urban motoring. The Fiesta's other noteworthy qualities will still shine through and that's what will give it the edge over rivals. This is not a new engine. It was fitted to the previous generation Fiesta and the one before that, where it was actually replaced by an inferior 1.3-litre unit then reintroduced later on. It's back in this seventh generation Fiesta and now there are a pair of power options for the punters to mull over. The 59bhp entry-level option is predictably lacking in the performance department with the 0-60mph sprint taking a tiresome 16.9 seconds. The 81bhp alternative has more zip about it with a 13.3s sprint but it's still lacking a bit in the muscle needed to propel a car of the Fiesta's size around town in a nippy fashion. The performance might not be stellar but running costs are agreeably low where the 1.25-litre Fiestas are concerned. Economy and emissions are 51.4mpg and 127g/km from the 59bhp cars while the 81bhp models get 49.6mpg and 129g/km. This might not be a patch on the 67mpg the entry-level diesel model achieves on the combined cycle but it will take a lot of miles to recoup the price premium Ford is asking for that car in fuel savings. There's no doubt that modern superminis are able to do a whole lot more than carrying their owner on trips to the shops and other errands about town. Big enough for the whole family, comfortable enough for long journeys, sporty enough to entertain and stylish enough to satisfy the image conscious, these cars really are all-rounders. The 1.25-litre Fiestas don't have quite such a comprehensive array of strengths but they do a lot of what the more expensive options do at a temptingly low cost.

Superminis these days aren't the small fry shopping hatches they once were. Motorists expect a more rounded product when their spending their money in this popular sector of the market and current superminis have grown to accommodate them. Tipping the scales at well over 1,000kg and at around four meters in length, we're talking about substantial bits of metalwork but that raises questions about the engines charged with powering them. Can a supermini still get away with less than 1.3-litres? Ford thinks so, fitting a 1.25-litre unit to its Fiesta. This is not a new engine. It was fitted to the previous generation Fiesta and the one before that, where it was actually replaced by an inferior 1.3-litre unit then reintroduced later on. It's back in this seventh generation Fiesta and now there are a pair of power options for the punters to mull over. The 59bhp entry-level option is predictably lacking in the performance department with the 0-60mph sprint taking a tiresome 16.9 seconds. The 81bhp alternative has more zip about it with a 13.3s sprint but it's still lacking a bit in the muscle needed to propel a car of the Fiesta's size around town in a nippy fashion. Maximum torque is 84Nm at 4,200rpm, whereas the less powerful option produces its 80Nm at a slightly more accessible 3,600rpm. The wedge-effect of the Fiesta in profile doesn't bode well for the rear seat passengers in the three-door car but the Fiesta surprises with decent legroom and headroom that's manageable even for a six-footer. The windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant in the back but the shopping bags, coats and road atlases that owners will store there most of the time won't be overly worried. The five door models fare better with a bigger glass area creating a roomier feel and all derivatives share the same easily navigable control system for their various electronic functions. It's the price that's going to persuade the majority of Fiesta 1.25 owners to take the plunge. It's the cheapest way to get yourself into Ford's iconic small car and for many, that will be a recommendation in itself. You'll pay just under £12,000 for the entry-level Studio model with the 59bhp engine and three doors. It's not exactly cheap and the specification isn't palatial but you do get body-coloured bumpers, tinted glass, electric power steering, a CD stereo with controls on the steering wheel and the Ford Easy Fuel System that will prevent you from putting diesel in it during a moment of weakness. You pay £400 extra for the 81bhp unit. The performance might not be stellar but running costs are agreeably low where the 1.25-litre Fiestas are concerned. Economy and emissions are 51.4mpg and 127g/km from the 59bhp cars while the 81bhp models get 49.6mpg and 129g/km. This might not be a patch on the 67mpg the entry-level diesel model achieves on the combined cycle but it will take a lot of miles to recoup the price premium Ford is asking for that car in fuel savings. Ford's Fiesta is an outstanding supermini that isn't at its best with a 1.25-litre engine installed under its bonnet. That's no great surprise, of course. These are entry-level engines that will sell on their attractive asking prices, not their sparkling ability on the road. The Fiesta's prowess as a long distance cruiser will be diminished by the lack of power but if performance isn't a priority, the 1.25 models should be perfectly adequate for urban motoring. The Fiesta's other noteworthy qualities will still shine through and that's what will give it the edge over rivals.

Scores
Performance 7
Handling 8
Comfort 8
Space 8
Styling 8
Build 8
Value 8
Equipment 7
Economy 7
Depreciation 6
Insurance 7
Total 82

Breakdown Cover
Choose a level of cover from just £37.99 a year
Breakdown Cover_img Join here