Britain is right: the Ford Fiesta is brilliant

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Ford Fiesta 2013

The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best selling car and has been pretty much non-stop since it was launched in 2008.

It is also brilliant. Britain’s got talent when it comes to choosing cars.

There is no more driver-focused everyday car than this. No car engineered with quite so much depth. No car that shows the same attention to detail and development thoroughness in areas such as brake pedal feel, gearchange sweetness, on-centre steering response and weighting.

My test ECOnetic showed it does all the headline stuff well: handles great, rides with consistent assurance, has a refined TDCi diesel engine that punches above the size of the car and is as refined as something much bigger too.

But it’s so much more than that. The poise it shows into, through and out of a corner is premium level, the sort of balance you expect from a BMW (comparisons with the Ultimate Driving Machine are valid throughout the Ford’s driving characteristics).

The damping is Lotus-like (no higher praise in my book) in its fluidity, delicacy and all-road ability. It makes other superminis feel leaden and flat-footed in comparison thanks to its magic blend of control and compliance.

And the steering is brilliant. It’s connected immediately off-centre, has weight and clarity, offers fingertip-turn accuracy and fully warrants the leather-wrapped, satisfyingly-shaped rim. None of the usual EPAS excuses needed here: Ford’s managed to infuse it with feel, other car manufacturers: why can’t you?

Ford Fiesta Silverstone 2013

Ford’s also made the engine much more refined than I remember in this facelifted model, improved the refinement, made the interior appear more modern and, of course, fitted that genius Aston Martin grille. It hasn’t improved the infotainment control logic, nor yet ditched the infernally complicated Sony stereo, but this car encourages you to drive it for the many, many miles you’ll need to sort of figure it out, so that’s something.

Sales shock: the best is the best

National best-seller status doesn’t always correspond with best-in-class status, but in this case, it does. The Fiesta is, for this keen driver, one of the very best cars on the road to drive. Something I’d happily have as everyday hack in my dream garage.

Porsche should drive the Fiesta to find out how to develop an EPAS system with the weight, linearity and subtlety expected by keen drivers. And you should certainly drive it, to find out how to engineer enthusiast-pleasing, well-engineered all-round excellence into a package that more than 100,000 Brits a year will happily sign up for.

Can’t afford a McLaren 12C, a Ferrari 458 or a Porsche Cayman? From £139 a month will get you something just as great. The Ford Fiesta really is that good.

UPDATE: the May 2013 sales figures have been revealed by the SMMT recently. Yup, the Ford Fiesta is still number 1. As you were…

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