THE FORD Fiesta has been given a bold refresh and now sports a front end dominated by a wide and distinctive grille.

The Fiesta has been a popular smaller car for many years, and the latest incarnation of the vehicle has grown into a capable all-rounder.

It has engaging driving dynamics and sophisticated ride qualities.

And the cabin feels like it has received plenty of attention-to detail, perhaps designed to match the classy ambience of the Focus and Mondeo.

When travelling to Wales in my older brother's Fiesta in the early 1990s to watch the RAC Rally, our vehicle felt a long way removed from the more exciting, bigger and powerful cars, such as the Lancia Deltas and Toyota Celicas, that were powering along the special stages at the time.

We would never have imaged that, two decades later, we would be heading to the same Welsh forests to watch the World Rally Cars of the moment - now including the Ford Fiesta!

And there can be little doubt that the Fiesta's presence on rallies such as this weekend's Wales Rally GB and prestigious events such as the Monte Carlo rally have only helped to raise the profile and enhance the image of this vehicle.

The brisk acceleration is one of the most impressive, if not surprising, aspects of this 100 horse power car.

Inside, the Fiesta's cabin remains largely as before, with changes to the centre console the most noticeable difference.

In a bid to continually drive down emissions and fuel consumption, small capacity three-cylinder petrol engines are starting to gain traction in the marketplace. Ford's decision to install its first effort in the larger Focus resulted in heaps of critical acclaim and proof that the 'small engine-big car' combination works without any significant compromises.

That engine has now found its way into the Fiesta. Reportedly. the 125 horsepower unit delivers a useful slug of power and proves refined at speed. The question is whether sacrificing 25 horsepower in the name of economy and asking price results in a poorer driving and ownership experience. While testing this version, I found the answer to that question is probably no. The 100 horse power vehicle uses its power well.

For all the Fiesta's upmarket cabin ambience and big-car equipment, it remains an obvious choice for urban motoring with the occasional longer run thrown in for good measure.

For keen drivers Ford's ability to make a good car better should be applauded but the revised Fiesta's also been updated to please buyers seeking a rewarding ownership experience. Safety kit from the Focus has trickled down to the Fiesta, with Ford's low speed auto brake function helping drivers react quicker to, say, a pedestrian or car pulling out in front or stopping suddenly.

Creature comforts that you'd find on larger cars - parking sensors, heated mirrors - are also available depending on the trim level. An improved multimedia package is also offered, which boasts a tighter integration with your mobile phone and a more intuitive user interface.

In general terms, the cosmetic enhancements have allowed the car to regain ground lost to more recent, youthful-looking rivals and the inclusion of the trick creature comforts should boost its appeal among feature-hungry buyers.


Model: Ford Fiesta 1.0 Zetec Ecoboost 5dr Powershift

Price: £17,390 on the road

Engine: 1.0-litre petrol unit developing 100bhp.?Transmission: automatic

Performance: Maximum speed 112mph, 0-62mph 11.2 seconds.?CO2 emissions: 114g/km.?Economy: 72.4mpg extra urban

Insurance group: 11E

Will's ratings