A reliable little motor for town

Wed, Oct 1, 2008, 01:00

THE FORD FIESTA offers good value because of the combination of a depressed second-hand market and the imminent arrival of a new model. It has been around a long time - it was originally launched in 1995 - and has become one of the most popular small cars on the market, writes Donal Byrne

This probably has more to do with Ford's market domination and customer loyalty than with its design appeal because it is one of the staidest around. The Toyota Yaris shook up the small car market when it arrived, and Ford has been a long time producing matching it.

That said, the outgoing Fiesta is a good little package. In its current guise it has been around for the past six years and its most recent facelift gave it a taller profile. It will hold four adults in reasonable comfort. The boot is average, as is the interior. It is not exactly a car to give you a warm feeling, but it is functional and practical. Seating is supportive, and ride and handling are fine for what is essentially a city car.

It comes with a choice of engines, but the ones to perk your interest are likely to be the 1.25-litre Zetec petrol, and the 1.4-litre TDCi diesel. Both drive well, but you would have to wonder about buying a car this size with a diesel engine when most of its time is likely to be spent in the city, where it will not be returning the optimum mileage of the open road.

The car comes well equipped with extras such as ABS and multiple airbags as standard. It has a four star rating - out of a possible five - in the EuroNCAP crash test programme, but it did not get the five stars because of a high load rating on the chest from the restraint system during testing.

There have been no major recalls on the Fiesta, but some 6,000 were brought back with a power steering problem in 2006. A 2005 model with the 1.25-litre petrol engine and 21,000km up is on offer for €11,950. A similiar 2006 car with 30,000 kilometres is on offer for €10,750. A 2006 diesel with 43,000km is on offer for €11,900. The Fiesta is a dependable second-hand buy. The other good thing is that there are so many of them around and the choice extensive.