Having seen no fewer than seven generations bringing a host of innovative features, intuitive technology and up-to-the-minute designs, it’s easy to understand how so many of us will have a Ford Fiesta tale to tell.
During the 1970s, Ford had the car market pretty well-licked. It was a case of Cortinas and Escorts abound. Even if you fancied something a bit bigger, there was always the Consul or a Zephyr/Zodiac waiting to brighten up your driveway with Ford's famous blue oval badge. However, Ford came late to the 'supermini' party, until it finally revealed the Fiesta back in 1975.
The MK1 Fiesta came as a 3-door hatchback with a panel van version also available. Early cars were a simple affair so it's fair to say, they weren't particularly refined. Yet, the Fiesta's attractive design and affordability proved popular. The Fiesta was the first Ford to come with a transverse engine layout similar to that of Alec Isagoniss' fabled BMC/BL Mini.
By the end of its eight-year tenure, the Fiesta MK1 had certainly found its niche. Over a million were sold. Nowadays, a MK1 represents the most desirable collector's Fiesta, especially in fabulously sexy XR2 or Supersport guises. These delightful little cars earned themselves cult status during the 1980's.
Fiesta MK2 (1983 to 1989)
After the success of the MK1, it was time for an update. In 1983 Ford brought us the Fiesta MK2. Thanks to a variety of subtle tweaks, the newby boasted more engine options including a diesel. 5-speed manual transmission was also available which helped cruise ability and improved MPG. The MK2 featured Ford's standard "look" with wraparound headlights. The interior was also freshened offering enhanced passenger accommodation.
The competition was fierce amidst superminis with the Vauxhall Nova and BL's Austin Metro gaining popularity. When production of the second-generation Fiesta ended in 1989, total sales exceeded 4.5 million units. However, these days, MK2's are a rare sight meaning that they have also become sought-after on the classics & collectors scene.
Fiesta MK3 (1989 to 1997)
A new decade and another Fiesta upgrade. The MK3 Fiesta was introduced with a brand new look. It was much sleeker and more refined than its predecessors, featuring a whole range of improved components to help bring the model up to date.
For the first time, the Fiesta was available as a 5-door hatchback with a longer wheelbase. Suddenly, the Fiesta looked like a grown-up option offering enhanced comfort thanks to better seating and a neater interior layout. The revised baby Fordling was more sure-footed than ever due to an improved suspension set-up.
It wasn't just the suspension that had been revised. At the heart of these trendy little motors was a line-up of modernised High Compression Swirl engines as well as Ford's CVH units. 1991 brought fuel injection into the mix which added refinement and greater fuel economy.
When it comes to latter-day desirability, the Fiesta MK3 XR2i seems to be the one. These little beasties produce around 100bhp. Then there's the Fiesta RS Turbo which came with distinctive alloys, bonnet louvers and green stripe moldings.
Fiesta MK4 (1995 to 2002)
In 1995 the MK4 arrived with a whole raft of advancements. Although the new model was based on the same platform as its predecessor, boxy styling was replaced with an altogether sleeker look. New Zetec SE engines were added to the range with the 1.8-litre diesel and the smaller Valencia (Endura E) engines remaining available.
The powerful XR2i and RS Turbo/RS1800 variants were ditched with the advent of the MK4. These popular models were replaced by the aggressively styled Fiesta Zetec S.
The MK4 is arguably not as desirable amidst Ford enthusiasts as some of its predecessors, despite having the distinction of being the last model ever to be built at Ford's Dagenham factory.
Fiesta MK5 (2002 to 2008)
A new Millennium brought us yet another new Fiesta. In 2002, the all-new MK5 was introduced. With fashionable new looks, it proved to be yet another winning formula. The MK5 was the first Fiesta to feature ABS and passenger airbags as standard. It didn't take long for the MK5 to win hearts and minds, going on to become the best-selling Fiesta iteration to date.
Initially the MK5 got engines carried over from the previous generation. However, in 2005 the MK5 enjoyed a major facelift which heralded an uptick in quality. Top end equipment such as MP3, automatic headlights, Bluetooth and automatic power-folding door mirrors were added. Performance versions got a splash of ST pedigree, featuring a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produced a very respectable 150bhp.
Fiesta MK5's are still seen on our roads, offering pre-loved affordability to a new generation of young drivers.
Fiesta MK6 (2008 to 2016)
In the late 2000's, a global financial crisis forced many drivers to rethink their motoring preferences in order to save a little on escalating motoring costs. When Ford unveiled its sixth generation Fiesta, they aimed to build on the brand's popularity.
The MK6 was launched under the 'One Ford' initiative. This meant that Ford could streamline its operations by standardising its range of products. Changing times meant that Ford's range of smaller, more efficient cars needed to offer customers the same style and flair as their larger siblings. It did this by adopting the 'Verve Concept'.
2013 brought a facelift with sharper looks and the addition of advanced technology. This included the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine which offered reliability and performance. The Fiesta ST made a welcome return with a punchy 1.6-litre EcoBoost power plant that produced a staggering 180bhp.
Over an 8-year production run, 300,000 MK6's were sold annually in Europe alone. There are still plenty of them out and about today.
Fiesta MK7 (2016 to 2023)
The 2016 MK7 brought distinctive new characteristics into the spotlight especially in Active and Vignale guise. Active models came with roof bars and a stylish SUV-inspired look. Vignale models brought opulence and genuine refinement to the Fiesta camp with a host of luxury features previously reserved for larger cars. The ST came along with a limited-run 'Performance Edition' much applauded for power and handling dynamics.
In 2021 the Fiesta was given a very pleasant facelift incorporating a unique front end design (some refer to this as the MK8). With the model seemingly at its peak, Ford sadly announced that this would be the last of the Fiestas.
The MK7/8 had proved to be another popular Fiesta and represents a fitting way for the Fiesta to finally bow out.
The Ford Fiesta proved to be one of the most popular cars ever made. Each new generation broke the supermini mold. The Fiesta was much-loved for its fun-to-drive, simple yet attractive approach to motoring. So many of us will have fond memories of journeys enjoyed behind the wheel of our Fiestas. I for one, will be sad to see it go.
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.
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