You’ve probably owned one. Maybe you learned to drive in one. One of your children might be driving one. But after almost 50 years of being a part of millions of families the much-loved Ford Fiesta is leaving us.
Ford has announced that the current Fiesta model will be the last, and when the planned production cycle reaches its conclusion in 2023 the popular little car will be officially retired.
Since its introduction in 1976 more than 22 million Fiestas have been built around the world. The Ford Fiesta has been at the forefront of the small car revolution, bringing advanced technologies, efficiency, best-in-class dynamics, and intelligent design to millions of people.
In 1972 Ford began work on Project Bobcat
Project Bobcat was a secret plan to create a small car for the world. The idea of an economical little car became even more urgent following the oil crisis of 1973 so Ford’s directors gave it the green light. Production of the new Fiesta – the name was chosen personally by Henry Ford II - began in 1976 and by the end of the decade one million had already rolled off the production lines.
By the time the second generation appeared in 1983 the Ford Fiesta had been winning awards for years, and the line-up had been expanded in new directions with the introduction of the XR2. With a 1.6-litre petrol engine, stiffer suspension, and unique perforated alloy wheels the XR2 was the first Fiesta to top 100mph. The second generation added more space and the first diesel option over its six-year lifespan before it too was replaced in 1989. The third version saw the introduction of anti-lock brakes to the range, and also included the range-topping XR2i with its nippy 1.6-litre twin-cam engine.
Fiesta goes RS
Not that it stayed at the top of the range for long. By 1992 Ford had introduced the RS Turbo and RS1800 versions. These helped to liven up the Fiesta image to the extent that almost 650,000 people per year were choosing one. The 1990s also saw the introduction of airbags and the spin-off Ford Puma coupe that was based on the Fiesta. By the end of the decade Ford had already given us the fourth generation, hit the four million mark for global production, and was ready to introduce an all-new Fiesta for the 21st century.
The fifth generation Fiesta was rapidly replaced with the sixth in 2002, which shows the pace of change at the time. Despite only being a few years apart the new models now included efficient Duratec engines as well as voice activation and Bluetooth. The 2000s was also the decade the first Fiesta ST appeared with – what was at the time but not so much anymore – a mind-blowing 150bhp. To balance out the performance of the ST, the seventh generation that appeared in 2008 brought us the ECOnetic which was the UK’s most fuel efficient five-seat family car.
Firmly established as Europe’s best-selling small car between 2011 and 2015, the next version appeared in 2012. This time Ford added the latest smart technologies such as start/stop alongside the award winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine and upped the power of the ST version to 180bhp. By the end of the decade the ninth version had brought us a new range of new trim levels with the introduction of the now familiar Titanium, ST-Line, and Vignale variants, as well as the SUV inspired Active. 2017 also saw a brand-new Fiesta ST with a 1.5-litre engine that took the little car into the 200bhp bracket.
Incidentally, it was the end of this decade that would possibly trigger the ultimate demise of the Fiesta. 2019 was the year Ford introduced the new Puma which was based on the same architecture as the Fiesta. Part of the announcement of the end of the Fiesta was the admission that Ford sees the Puma - and by extension, the hybrid compact crossover - as the future of the small car.
Now you can get the latest - and last - Fiesta with adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition, seven-speed automatic gearboxes to go with the hybrid powertrains, LED lights, and digital instruments with touchscreen controls. There’s even a new Fiesta ST featuring a more aggressive exterior design including the Mean Green paint option, as well as new Performance Seats and a Track Drive Mode.
But you can only get your hands on one until next year, so if you’re thinking of leasing yourself one of the last of the Ford Fiesta family you’d better get a move on.
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