Review: Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013)


Well built with an upmarket interior. Enjoyable and involving to drive. Cheap to run 1.6TDCI ECOnetic. Exceptional reliability record. Very few problems reported despite more than 500,000 sold.

Back seats don't fold flat. Spare wheel is a £30 optional extra. High boot lip. More refined but not as sharp to drive as a Mazda 2.

Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013): At A Glance

The Ford Fiesta is a stylish and well built car that leads the way among small hatchbacks. No car this size manages to match its all round abilities, from the keen handling to its refined interior and stylish looks. It really does have it all. In fact, it's so good, the Ford Fiesta is a genuine rival to larger hatchbacks in the class above.

On the road, the Fiesta feels like a much larger car than it is. The handling is composed and neat, helped by great steering, while the high-quality ride soaks up uneven and bumpy roads with minimal fuss. It's a revelation on the motorway where it's amazingly quiet and stable, so - unlike some other small cars of this size - long journeys needn't be tiring.

If you're downsizing from a larger car, the Fiesta is a great choice. The interior is way ahead of the competition with a stylish but user-friendly design, the highlight of which is the stylish central console that houses the stereo and simple ventilation controls. The seats offer plenty of support and there's plenty of adjustment so even taller drivers will find the perfect driving position. However, one criticism is that rear headroom is somewhat limited.

There's a good choice of engines though from the entry-level 1.25-litre petrol up to the 120bhp 1.6-litre which is the quickest version. But for economy, the ECOnetic model steals the show thanks to claimed fuel economy of 76.3mpg and free road tax. There are plenty of clever innovations too such as 'stall prevention', a neat feature that increases revs in low speed manoeuvres and means you won't find yourself caught out at the traffic lights.

Ford Fiesta 2009 Road Test and Video

What does a Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013) cost?

List Price from £16,115
Buy new from £12,816
Contract hire from £167.81 per month

Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3950 mm
Width 1722–1787 mm
Height 1481 mm
Wheelbase 2489 mm

Full specifications

To get people out of big cars and inside smaller cars you have to make them special inside. Ambiance is everything and dominating the dash of the Fiesta is an extraordinary voice-activated Bluetooth sound system, intuitively laid out like a mobile phone. On the left you have buttons for CD, radio, aux, phone and menu. On the right, number buttons for the phone. Shuffle and scan buttons underneath.

You can hook up your iPod through the aux jack below, or simply insert a £10 memory stick with 2,000 tracks on it and the system will search and display all the folders and titles. The sound quality is excellent too. In fact this system has proved so good, it's also been fitted to the new Focus.  It's high up, centre dash with a line-of-sight display screen for minimum distraction. Even the main heating and ventilation controls are simple knobs rather than multiple buttons so can be worked by feel rather than look.

There's a very nice, Honda-like, leather rim steering wheel on top versions, height and reach adjustable on all versions. All the trim is high quality and beautifully put together. If Audi made a car this size I doubt they'd have done a better job. Everything works with precision and feels well finished.

There's legroom and headroom inside the five-door for five passengers, although taller adults will find the back a little tight, but then what small car this size isn't. The seats themselves are comfortable and supportive too.  The boot takes 295 litres and just a little bit less if you opt for the free optional spare wheel. But one shortcoming is that the back seats don't double-fold so you can't create a flat load deck like you can on a Honda Jazz for example. But you can't have everything.

Standard equipment from launch (October 2008):

Studio is the base level model and has an Intelligent Protection System featuring ABS, front, side and knee airbags, a CD player, central locking and power mirrors.

Style gets body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles while inside there's an upgraded four-speaker sound system, power front windows and remote central locking.

Style+ upgrades the Style trim with Ford's Quickclear' heated windscreen and air conditioning.

Zetec is the most popular choice and comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, leather steering wheel, chrome grille, chrome bodywork detailing and interior "aesthetic lighting".

Zetec S has 16-inch alloy wheels and boasts a deeper front bumper, side mouldings, a rear spoiler and sports-tuned suspension.

Titanium is the luxury trim and gets 16-inch alloys, Electronic Temperature Control, privacy glass, cruise control, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, power folding mirrors and carpet mats.

ECOnetic is the economical model and comes with lowered suspension, low rolling resistance tyres and a specially calibrated Duratorq 1.6-litre TDCi engine.

S1600 is the 'sporty' version and has alloy pedals, Quickclear windscreen, stitched leather sports seats with standard side-airbags, leather steering wheel, handbrake cover and gearknob, plus Motorsport-branded floor mats and scuff plates. Body-styling kit includes a unique front bumper with flared lower valence panel, extended side skirts, large rear spoiler and rear diffuser, finished with 17-inch white alloy wheels (16-inch on diesel models). Special paint finish is available in Frozen White or Performance Blue, with contrasting motorsport stripes.

From April 2010 all new Fiesta models come with ESP as standard.

Child seats that fit a Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013) like to drive?

Instead of making the new Fiesta immensely versatile, Ford has concentrated on making it extraordinarily good to drive, particularly the high end versions. The car has electric power steering with ‘camber compensation' and on narrower tyres there isn't much steering feel. It still hangs on brilliantly, but it's at its best in Titanium trim with 195/45 R16s that make it beautifully smooth and fluid without wrecking the ride quality. Go one stage more sporty to the Zetec S and you'll be able to corner a bit more quickly, but you'll also feel the bumps more.

All the engines in the Fiesta range are economical although the 1.25-litre entry-level engine isn't the quickest around, especially the basic 60bhp version. The 82bhp is a bit better but most people will prefer the 1.4-litre petrol with 96bhp. It's quiet, smooth and according to the official economy figures can average 48.7mpg. And if you're after a Fiesta with an automatic gearbox - this is the only engine choice. It's not a a CVT or a ‘Durashift' automated manual but instead a proper four-speed torque converter.

The top petrol is the 1.6 Ti-VCT which is smooth but low geared and consquently doesn't feel like it has 120bhp. And though 139g/km so a reasonable £110 tax next year, you'll pay at the pumps. We only saw 35mpg, and that wasn't pushing it.

In contrast the 90bhp 1.6 TDCI diesel feels made for the car. It's flexible, with some (though not a lot) of torque from 1000rpm. It's good on the motorway too and will effortlessly cruise at 70mph. We got 47mpg in test conditions, so you can expect 60 in normal use. And it even has some character.

This engine is also fitted to the 99g/km ECOnetic version of the car that hits the headlines by qualifying for ‘free' VED ‘road tax'. But to do this it comes on skinny little wheels. Since part of the secret of economy motoring is maintaining momentum, it could well be that in real life the £20 a year tax Titanium or Zetec S will make your fuel go further.

The ECOnetic sits on low rolling resistance tyres, in this case 175/65 R14s and is actually better for them. It rides and grips very well and there are no worries about how it handles on the relatively skinny rubber. Driving along at a modest pace, it's very pleasant and exceptionally refined for a small car, marred only by some noise from the transmission due to the low friction oil.

A green arrow pops up on the speedo at between 1500rpm and 2200rpm suggesting you change up for the sake of economy and paying heed to this, we averaged a creditable 63.2mpg. Some way short of the certificated 76.3mpg, but probably closer to reality. Lastly, but not leastly, you won't be able to misfuel a new Fiesta because they come with the capless Easyfuel system that won't let you put petrol in a diesel.

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Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.25 50–52 mpg 13.3–16.9 s 127–129 g/km
1.25 82 50–50 mpg 13.3 s 129–133 g/km
1.4 49–50 mpg 12.2 s 133 g/km
1.4 Automatic 43 mpg 13.9 s 154 g/km
1.4 TDCi 67–69 mpg 14.8–14.9 s 107–110 g/km
1.6 49 mpg 9.9 s 134 g/km
1.6 TDCi 67–79 mpg 11.8–12.9 s 87–107 g/km
1.6 TDCi ECOnetic 79 mpg 12.9 s 87 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford Fiesta (2008 – 2013)

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


Real MPG

26–78 mpg

MPGs submitted


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 (2008 – 2013)?

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

Can you recommend a versatile and roomy hatchback or estate?

We're looking for a reliable roomy estate/hatchback that can fit a small dog crate in the boot and a medium dog crate on the back seat, which preferably has a 60/40 split. We don't commute to work, so the journeys would be several 2-5 mile trips in and around town per week, with one 44 mile trip on dual carriageway/motorway either weekly or fortnightly. We have a 2009 Ford Focus 1.4 diesel at present, which has the perfect amount of space (a 2007 Ford Fiesta has the minimum amount of space that we can get away with). Budget is up to £4000, or a little more if required, and road tax should not be above £145.
First of all, we'd recommend a petrol for your needs. Don't limit your search based on vehicle tax, though - you can pay it monthly, and it's quite a marginal sum over the year compared to fuel or maintenance costs, for example. A Skoda Octavia estate would be a very practical option. You could also consider a Fabia estate if you'd prefer something smaller. We'd also recommend a Honda Jazz - it's an extremely versatile and dependable little car.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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