Fancy trim fails to save Britain’s favorite small car

All good things must come to an end. It would have been inconceivable that phrase could be applied to the Ford Fiesta five years ago: a perennial bestseller and Britain’s favorite car, loved by student drivers, school mums, retirees and racers alike. Few cars for sale in the UK could claim to be so truly classless.

However, today, reading between the lines, the Fiesta is not much for this world. At a recent press conference, Stuart Rowley, the boss of Ford of Europe, refused to talk about the future of its smaller model and, while he agreed that there is strong demand, he did not confirm that the current generation will be replaced.

The three-door Fiesta is gone now, and if you want a five-door, you can’t even configure one online; in fact, Ford is barely making Fiestas at the moment, as it’s exploiting all the superconductors it can get its hands on to its most profitable models.

And the profit margin is the root of the problem. There never was much in small cars to begin with, and there are fewer and fewer as safety and emissions standards make them more expensive to build.

So it’s no surprise that, in an effort to justify the Fiesta’s existence, Ford is placing an increasing emphasis on luxury and high-end trims, the ones where the margin is bigger.

advantage

  • very fun to drive
  • well-appointed
  • ST-Line bits elevate Fiesta’s standard interior

Cons

  • High price and expensive financing
  • jiggly ride
  • small boot

revised range

As a result, a midlife tune-up and tuning moment for the Fiesta has brought with it a strategic reshuffling of the range. The fancy Vignale version is gone, which isn’t a bad thing really; like the old Metro Vanden Plas, it always felt like a small car with ideas about its station.

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In its place is an optional “X pack” model, which comes with a handful of extra equipment but without the Vignale’s slightly exaggerated leather-and-wood vibe. You can apply the package to all models in the range except the miserly Trend and the handsome ST-3. That means the mid-range Titanium, sporty ST-Line and upgraded Active models also have upgraded X versions, so now you can have your luxury Fiesta in three guises, rather than just one as before.

It’s the ST-Line X we’re testing here, which means in addition to the ST-Line’s sporty body kit, big wheels, sat nav, cruise control and heated windshield, you also get climate control, taillights LED, heated front seats. , heated steering wheel and reversing camera. You also get an upgrade from 17-inch to 18-inch wheels, which is a mixed blessing, as we’ll see in a minute.

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