RAC

Ford Fiesta Studio 60

For Ford's class-leading supermini, this is as basic as it gets. Steel wheels, no air conditioning, zero frills. David Vivian sees if it can still hit the spot.

Ten Second Review

Seldom has one car kept the competition at bay quite as successfully as the current Fiesta with its supermini rivals. Success depends not just on the excellence of the product, of course, but getting the pricing and model structure right and pitching the entry-level car correctly. With 12 million Fiesta already sold across the world, it's clear that Ford has done its sums and the Studio 60 proves that even the most affordable Fiesta needn't feel cheap.

Background

Ford's Fiesta hasn't always been the critically acclaimed cream of the supermini crop but, in the UK at least, it's always been its strong-selling stalwart and a reliable barometer of the health of the supermini sector. The original design dates back to 1976 and central to its appeal back then, as now, was its ability to fulfil the mundane workaday chores that fall to a small family hatch with chassis dynamics that made it fun to drive. In the areas of style, powertrains and build quality, it wasn't quite so clever and the previous (6th) generation car was a case in point, leading the field as a satisfying steer but falling short of the mark when it came to perceived quality and modern design, especially on the inside with its hard plastics and rather drab architecture. The current 7th generation Fiesta didn't just address those shortcomings but turned them round to such an extent that it was the opposition that was left looking rather pale and not nearly so interesting. Put simply, the Fiesta is the hottest property in its class and the Studio 60 is the way in.

Driving Experience

The Studio 60, as its name suggests, uses the lower-powered version of Ford's familiar 1.25-litre four with 60PS (or 59bhp in old money). And, no point beating around the bush here, it's pretty slow, taking all of 16.9s to reach 62mph from rest on the way to a top speed of 94mph. Maybe not the car, then, in which to undertake a tour of 'rest stops' on the German autobahn network. Having said that, it's a refined and sweet-spinning little unit and, with a much more reasonable 80 lb ft of torque on tap, doesn't feel nearly as gutless when rolling along as those figures might lead you to believe. And, as you might hope, it sips petrol, too. So, one obvious sacrifice for joining the Fiesta club on the ground floor: sparkling performance. If that's on your wish list, you'll need to shake another £600 or so out of the piggy bank for the 80bhp version of the 1.25-litre Studio which chops 3.5s from the 0-62mph time and adds a whole 10mph to the top speed. But there's more to driving a Fiesta than straight line speed and, from behind the wheel, all the fundamentals are essentially no different to those of pricier models in the range: a first class driving position that will accommodate even lanky frames with ample fore/aft seat and rake/reach wheel adjustment, comfortable and supportive seats and arguably the most stylish dash in the class. And while the low-powered Studio 60 will be outmatched by any number of modern diesel-engined vans away from the lights, it compensates for its tardy acceleration from rest with the superb poise and fluency of its chassis which, better than any rival, combines handling agility, acuity and precision with a suppleness and composure that would put many larger cars to shame. The variable power assisted steering is a delight, too, with lots of reassuring feel at speed and low effort lightness when manoeuvring. Any black marks? Rear visibility isn't all that it might be and although positive in action, the gearchange is a little rubbery in feel. But that's it.

Design and Build

The flowing 'Kinetic' form language of the current Fiesta looks so extravagant next to the rather plain and boxy lines of its predecessor, it's hard to believe they're adjacent generation cars. Indeed many so-called coupes look rather unadventurous by comparison with the Ford. And it's surprising how little the Studio 60's rather unglamorous standard plastic-shrouded steel wheels detract from the overall impression. It does no harm, of course, that the entry-level model uses the marginally prettier three-door bodyshell - and it does get a body-colour tailgate spoiler. But while occupants destined for the rear will have to clamber past the flipped forward backrests of the front seats, they might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of leg- and headroom at their disposal when they get there. Even six-footers should be comfortable enough, if denied the airier feeling of more expensive five-door Fiestas with their larger glass area. On the inside, the aesthetic disconnect between this 7th generation Fiesta and its predecessor is just as stark, the unimaginative up-and-down architecture of the former swept away by a stylish riot of curves, varied surface textures and a centre console clearly inspired by the compact functionality of a modern mobile phone. All right, the Studio may be basic and bereft of the baubles Zetec and Titanium drivers get to enjoy, but the design effort that's gone into the interior and the considerable hike in the quality of the plastics and materials used makes this most modest of Fiestas feel very modern and rather special.

Market and Model

Ford has managed to keep the price of the Studio 60 comfortably the right side of the psychologically significant £10,000 mark, putting it into contention with better equipped versions of smaller city cars like the Citroen C1, Kia Picanto and even its own Ka. Unsurprisingly, the kit lit looks a bit sparse. There's no air conditioning, central locking or MP3/Bluetooth connectivity and metallic paint is a £500 option. But the Studio is far from stripped to the bone, getting power steering, electric mirrors, stability control, a decent CD player and split folding rear seats. Renault's similarly priced-to-sell but more powerful Clio Pzazz is about £500 cheaper but certainly feels it and, despite its performance advantage, isn't nearly as satisfying to drive.

Cost of Ownership

While it's true that the least expensive, least powerful model in a range is seldom the most economical and cleanest (that usually requires a diesel engine and a bit of expensive eco-tech wizardry), frugality certainly sits in the Studio 60's plus column. It is (just) the most parsimonious and least polluting of the petrol-engined models, shading the figures for the 80bhp 1.25 with a combined consumption of 51.4mpg (50.4mpg for the 80) and 127 g/km of CO2 (129 for the 80). In typical Ford fashion. insurance premiums and repair costs have been kept low by an intelligent approach to manufacturing.

Summary

So, how badly do you want a Fiesta at a knock down price? Badly enough to put up with the leisurely acceleration? Badly enough to do without air conditioning and central locking? Badly enough to overlook the urban charms of better equipped city cars that nevertheless make a fair fist of motoring on the open road? Well, yes, quite possibly. The Fiesta is such an accomplished supermini in so many areas, and such a stylish one, that the odd sacrifice doesn't seem so onerous. The bottom line is you'll be buying a very good car, not an inferior one with a few incentivising extras. Both family and driver friendly, the Fiesta's talents cover all bases. For the money, the Studio 60 will be seriously tempting for anyone who puts core strengths before eye-catching deals.

So, how badly do you want a Fiesta at a knock down price? Badly enough to put up with the leisurely acceleration? Badly enough to do without air conditioning and central locking? Badly enough to overlook the urban charms of better equipped city cars that nevertheless make a fair fist of motoring on the open road? Well, yes, quite possibly. The Fiesta is such an accomplished supermini in so many areas, and such a stylish one, that the odd sacrifice doesn't seem so onerous. The bottom line is you'll be buying a very good car, not an inferior one with a few incentivising extras. Both family and driver friendly, the Fiesta's talents cover all bases. For the money, the Studio 60 will be seriously tempting for anyone who puts core strengths before eye-catching deals.

So, how badly do you want a Fiesta at a knock down price? Badly enough to put up with the leisurely acceleration? Badly enough to do without air conditioning and central locking? Badly enough to overlook the urban charms of better equipped city cars that nevertheless make a fair fist of motoring on the open road? Well, yes, quite possibly. The Fiesta is such an accomplished supermini in so many areas, and such a stylish one, that the odd sacrifice doesn't seem so onerous. The bottom line is you'll be buying a very good car, not an inferior one with a few incentivising extras. The Studio 60, as its name suggests, uses the lower-powered version of Ford's familiar 1.25-litre four with 60PS (or 59bhp in old money). And, no point beating around the bush here, it's pretty slow, taking all of 16.9s to reach 62mph from rest on the way to a top speed of 94mph. Maybe not the car, then, in which to undertake a tour of 'rest stops' on the German autobahn network. Having said that, it's a refined and sweet-spinning little unit and, with a much more reasonable 80 lb ft of torque on tap, doesn't feel nearly as gutless when rolling along as those figures might lead you to believe. And, as you might hope, it sips petrol, too. And while the low-powered Studio 60 will be outmatched by any number of modern diesel-engined vans away from the lights, it compensate for its tardy acceleration from rest with the superb poise and fluency of its chassis which, better than any rival, combines handling agility, acuity and precision with a suppleness and composure that would put many larger cars to shame. The variable power assisted steering is a delight, too, with lots of reassuring feel at speed and low effort lightness when manoeuvring. Any black marks? Rear visibility isn't all that it might be and although positive in action, the gearchange is a little rubbery in feel. But that's it. Both family and driver friendly, the Fiesta's talents cover all bases. For the money, the Studio 60 will be seriously tempting for anyone who puts core strengths before eye-catching deals.

For Ford's class-leading supermini, this is as basic as it gets. Steel wheels, no air conditioning, zero frills. Seldom has one car kept the competition at bay quite as successfully as the current Fiesta with its supermini rivals. Success depends not just on the excellence of the product, of course, but getting the pricing and model structure right and pitching the entry-level car correctly. With 12 million Fiesta already sold across the world, it's clear that Ford has done its sums and the Studio 60 proves that even the most affordable Fiesta needn't feel cheap. The Studio 60, as its name suggests, uses the lower-powered version of Ford's familiar 1.25-litre four with 60PS (or 59bhp in old money). And, no point beating around the bush here, it's pretty slow, taking all of 16.9s to reach 62mph from rest on the way to a top speed of 94mph. Maybe not the car, then, in which to undertake a tour of 'rest stops' on the German autobahn network. Having said that, it's a refined and sweet-spinning little unit and, with a much more reasonable 80 lb ft of torque on tap, doesn't feel nearly as gutless when rolling along as those figures might lead you to believe. And, as you might hope, it sips petrol, too. So, one obvious sacrifice for joining the Fiesta club on the ground floor: sparkling performance. If that's on your wish list, you'll need to shake another £600 or so out of the piggy bank for the 80bhp version of the 1.25-litre Studio which chops 3.5s from the 0-62mph time and adds a whole 10mph to the top speed. But there's more to driving a Fiesta than straight line speed and, from behind the wheel, all the fundamentals are essentially no different to those of pricier models in the range: a first class driving position that will accommodate even lanky frames with ample fore/aft seat and rake/reach wheel adjustment, comfortable and supportive seats and arguably the most stylish dash in the class. And while the low-powered Studio 60 will be outmatched by any number of modern diesel-engined vans away from the lights, it compensates for its tardy acceleration from rest with the superb poise and fluency of its chassis which, better than any rival, combines handling agility, acuity and precision with a suppleness and composure that would put many larger cars to shame. The variable power assisted steering is a delight, too, with lots of reassuring feel at speed and low effort lightness when manoeuvring. Any black marks? Rear visibility isn't all that it might be and although positive in action, the gearchange is a little rubbery in feel. But that's it. So, how badly do you want a Fiesta at a knock down price? Badly enough to put up with the leisurely acceleration? Badly enough to do without air conditioning and central locking? Badly enough to overlook the urban charms of better equipped city cars that nevertheless make a fair fist of motoring on the open road? Well, yes, quite possibly. The Fiesta is such an accomplished supermini in so many areas, and such a stylish one, that the odd sacrifice doesn't seem so onerous. The bottom line is you'll be buying a very good car, not an inferior one with a few incentivising extras. Both family and driver friendly, the Fiesta's talents cover all bases. For the money, the Studio 60 will be seriously tempting for anyone who puts core strengths before eye-catching deals.

Scores
Performance 6
Handling 9
Comfort 9
Space 8
Styling 9
Build 8
Value 9
Equipment 6
Economy 8
Depreciation 6
Insurance 9
Total 87
Breakdown Cover
Choose a level of cover from just £37.99 a year
Breakdown Cover_img Join here