Dan Trent
05/01/2009 00:00 | By Dan Trent, contributor, MSN Cars

Ford Fiesta Zetec S review (2009 onwards)

Ford Fiesta (© Ford)

Model: Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.6 Ti-VCT
Bodystyle: three-door hatch
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder, petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive

What is it?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

How can it be that Ford bosses in America are forced to go cap in hand to the US government for help to stay afloat while their European colleagues continue to turn out such brilliant products? You've got to wonder, the Fiesta just one of a run of fabulous Fords launched recently.And where the previous version delivered traditional Fiesta virtues wrapped in relatively conservative design the new model goes all out to impress, taking Ford's 'kinetic design' language and injecting some real style into the baby Ford's looks. As we've come to expect it drives brilliantly too, this sporty Zetec S currently the hottest version available.

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Where does it fit?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

With a full bodykit, sports suspension and choice of zingy 1.6 petrol or diesel engines the Zetec S is only available as a three-door. If you fancy a bit more luxury, rear doors and a wider choice of engines you can go for Titanium spec, Style and Zetec offering the same at a more affordable level.As it stands the Zetec S goes against other 'warm' hatches such as the Suzuki Swift Sport, Twingo Renaultsport and related Mazda 2 1.5 Sport. The petrol version's 120hp and 9.9-second 0-62mph sprint put it mid-field in performance terms in this crowd, the Fiesta's group 6 insurance and 139g/km emissions better than most.

Watch a video road test of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S

Is it for you?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

With the Swift and Twingo both emitting 171g/km and in significantly higher insurance groups the already attractive Fiesta becomes even more appealing for younger drivers, off-setting the fact the Zetec S costs a relatively steep £12331 - £781 more than the Twingo. But the Fiesta is a good buy for more than just financial reasons.Ford has gone all-out for the 'yoof' vote, the Zetec S even more so. A bewildering array of influences including snowboards (colours), mobile phones (stereo controls) and - bizarrely - power showers (heater knobs) are claimed for the interior, which, like the exterior, is as dynamic and modern as the previous car was safe and conservative.

What does it do well?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

It works brilliantly too, the new Fiesta looking genuinely fresh and exciting in a sector full of very strong rivals. The Zetec S package certainly ups the aggression factor too, pumping up the looks just enough to show it means business and looking especially eye catching in the lime green 'squeeze' and 'hot magenta' metallics.It matches this with a brilliant drive too, the revvy engine paired with a fabulously slick five-speed gearbox, sharp but intuitive steering and an inspiringly dynamic chassis. This is Ford doing what it does best, namely delivering fabulous driver's cars at an affordable price, the Fiesta bringing a new sense of style to the mix too.

What doesn’t it do well?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

Maybe we're showing our age but the Zetec S's bodykit does border on the tacky, the big wing and tacked on chin spoiler detracting somewhat from the purity of the Fiesta's design. For all the pumped up aggression the 16-inch wheels look a bit puny too, these being the biggest you can currently spec. And though the design is fresh and exciting inside not all the materials are as sturdy as you'd hope, the rigid door cappings and hard plastic moulding on the centre console looking especially cheap. And electric power steering is direct and improves fuel consumption but lacks some of the finer feedback of the previous car's hydraulic set up.

What's it like to live with?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

Brilliant, in a word. Fiestas have always sold well in the UK and though near-ubiquitous if you were to lay down your cash on the little Ford you won't regret it for a moment. Relatively high pricetag aside, running costs are going to be very reasonable too.As user friendly around town as its fun to hack along a back-lane blast, the Fiesta manages to be all things to all drivers too. The Zetec S is clearly aimed at those of sportier tastes of course, the three-door-only body perhaps compromising practicality a tad but unlikely to be too much of an issue for the target audience.

How green is it?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

For a sporty model the Zetec S is surprisingly eco friendly, for which you can thank improvements like an average 40kg weight saving compared with the previous model. Band C (Band E from March 2009) VED means it's pretty CO2 friendly too, the claimed 47.7mpg combined fuel consumption significantly better than rivals like the Twingo and Swift. Unique to the Zetec S, the Ti-VCT petrol uses high tech features like variable cam timing for maximum efficiency. But for another £487 you can have the 1.6 TDCi diesel version, which while slower than the petrol boasts official figures of 67.3mpg and 110g/km, offering further VED savings and costing just £35 a year to tax.

Would we buy one?

A roadtest of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S (© Image © Ford)

Absolutely. The Fiesta is very much a car for our times, proving that driver enjoyment and strong design needn't come at a premium price. And whether you're looking at it as a first car or you're considering downsizing to save money you'll be very well catered for by this latest baby Ford.On paper the Fiesta doesn't dazzle compared with its rivals but as a package it's just so well honed. Ford's mastery of balancing apparently conflicting demands like environmental concerns, driver appeal and wider running costs would be appealing enough but the fact it's done it with such style is hugely impressive.

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