Review: Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008)

Rating:

Good handling and comfortable ride. Tidy design. Reasonably spacious. Plenty of choice second-hand. Good reputation for reliability.

Base models a bit sparse on equipment. Style Climates worth £500 more than plain Style. Avoid rare pushrod 1.3. Vauxhall Corsa is more spacious.

Recently Added To This Review

4 May 2019

Report of repeated engine thermostat housing failures in a 2004 Ford Fiesta 1.4, bought used in 2015. The thermostat housing had to be replaced 29-4-15 and this lasted until August 2016 when it was leaking... Read more

13 December 2017

Report of main bearings of 1.4 petrol engine of 2006 Ford Fiesta failing at 80,000 miles despite regular servicing. Read more

26 June 2017

Sticking speedometer reported in 2006 Ford Fiesta. Occurs in hot weather. Dashboard cluster had been replaced in 2015 due to gradual failure of indictor lights and the speedometer needle sticking and... Read more

Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008): At A Glance

Squarer shaped Fiesta with better packaging and more room inside.

Ford Fiesta ST150, 1.6 TDCi, Fusion 1.6 TDCi 2005 Road Test

 

What does a Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008) cost?

List Price from £13,970
Buy new from £12,683
Contract hire from £158.38 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

What's the Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008) like to drive?

Ford model ranges are never complete until theres a quick one. And now, at last, theres a fast Fiesta.

It has a mildly breathed-on chain-cam Mondeo engine putting out 150PS, dropped and stiffened suspension, big 17 alloys with 205/40 section tyres and, for £150 extra, two wide police-alert Carlos Fandango go faster stripes the length of the bonnet and roof.

It looks particularly good in white with blue stripes, the old Ford motor sports colours, but you can also have red, blue or black with white stripes, and stripes along the side for an extra £75. Theres a single-slot CD player for that authentic boom boom noise. And the exhaust pipe has been specially tuned to sound like a 1960s rally car. So the spirit of the original boy racer XR2 has been reincarnated in the current Fiesta body.

How does it all come together?

The engine revs very freely, the suspension is rock hard and the responses are instant, so if you want to work at your driving you can put up some pretty quick A to B times on your favourite roads. And I guess it's stiff enough to be a decent track-day car too. There was a bit of variation between the cars on test; one displaying an alarming tail waggle at times, hopefully a pre-production quirk of that particular car. And the ancient Ford fumble of a big gap between 2nd and 3rd gears seems to have returned. Close ratios they arent.

Though it goes well and the seats are very comfortable and supportive, the ST simply isn't for me. And I kind of wonder who it is for. In theory its ideal for the under 25s who traditionally buy fast Fiestas. But its Group 13 insurance, which is going to cost under 25s an arm and a leg on top of the £13,595 list price. I guess there will be a race series that will shift some. Maybe the market is really 25-30 year olds. Perhaps thirtysomething former XR2 owners now running Jags will buy them as second cars out of nostalgia. The really keen will have them for track days. But I can't foresee Ford moving metal in the numbers they used to as XR2s. What I can crystal ball is a lot of youngsters hankering after the ST, then being quoted £3k a year to insure it, so plumping for the 100PS Group 7 Fiesta Zetec 1.6S instead (which we didnt get to test).

To Telegraph readers, the new slightly sporty Fusion Zetec S with a 92PS version of PSA and Fords Duratorq 1.6 16 valve common rail diesel makes more sense. Fusions never really took off in the UK, despite their slightly higher driving position and their huge rear loadspace with flat low-loading sill. A peculiar omission is no grab handle over the front passenger seat, which isn't going to help the elderly and infirm make entry and exit. But for a small, tall car the Zetec S version handles decently enough. A bit better than a Mitsubishi Colt or the class-leading Honda Jazz, though no better than its stablemate Mazda 2. And the EU IV 92PS diesel gives it a decent combination of performance and economy just short of the magic 120g/km CO2, without a DPF, so annual VED is £115 rather than £85.

Fortunately Ford saved the best for last. The Fiesta Zetec S with the same 92PS Duratorq diesel engine.

This isn't just extremely cheap to run at £85pa annual VED and an average 63mpg, its also a lot of fun. The suspension is more compliant than the ST, there's a bit less rubber on the road, no ESP switch (and no need for one) and one of the sweetest revving diesels you can buy. It begs the question why they didn't go all out for the 110PS version as fitted to the Peugeot 205 GTI HDI 110. The answer could be that the 110 wouldnt have qualified for £85pa VED. Or that it would have been so good it would have stolen the thunder of the ST. Or that PSA simply wouldnt let Ford have it for the Fiesta.

Still, for me, despite just 92PS, the Fiesta Zetec S diesel was car of the day. It rode well. It handled astonishingly well and felt like it would continue to do so in the wet. It put a smile on my face. And I reckon I'd probably end up getting around 55mpg day to day against maybe 35mpg from the ST, so I wouldnt have to go and get robbed at a service station quite as often. Its even cheap to insure in Group 6E. So its the fast Fiesta that gets the thumbs up here and Ill leave the ST to the enthusiasts who like that sort of thing.

Living With a Fiesta ST150

For reasons I won't bore you with I wound up with an all-black RHD ST150 on extended test for 3 weeks.

After our Thai Toyota Soluna Vios and a Mitsubishi Lancer estate, the Fiesta first felt so full-on tight, hard and darty I thought I was going to have a tough time not crashing it. Since I like a bit of compliance in the suspension, this was a real culture shock. And geared at 20mph per 1,000 rpm in top it's hardly a relaxing cruiser either.

But thats not what it's about. What it is about is making the Fiesta as close to a track-day car as can be done. And when you think of it that way, it succeeds very well.

It forces you to concentrate on driving it properly. And then it can be very satisfying.

They must have changed the gear ratios from the original test cars, because now a short third gear gives hard acceleration, which is very useful pulling onto a motorway. There is actually bags of grip and adjustability. On straights the din from the engine discourages serious speed. But get to some corners and that Mercedes that was eating your back bumper suddenly becomes a Dinky Toy in your mirror. So the ST150 can be huge fun. And is even more accessible now that real world prices have been cut to around £11,000.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 TDCi 64 mpg - 116 g/km
1.6i 44 mpg - 154 g/km
ST 38 mpg - 177 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

85%

Real MPG

25–70 mpg

MPGs submitted

718

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Ford Fiesta (2002 – 2008)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's a good small car for someone who is 6ft5 tall?

I am approaching 17 years old and I am 6ft5. I was wondering if you know small cars around the £1000 - £1500 price (secondhand) that could fit someone with my height (adjustable steering wheel preferable but not compulsory)?
You could look at a Honda Jazz. It's not a fashionable choice but more spacious than cars like the Ford Fiesta. It'll be cheap to run, too - with good fuel consumption and (relatively) cheap insurance.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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