The highs and lows of Ford's new Fiesta models, from the SUV-style Active to the tearaway ST
In focus: Ford Fiesta
As revealed in last week's Independent Motors, two new Fiesta models are designed to broaden the appeal of Ford's supermini.
The Fiesta Active sits 18mm higher than the regular hatchback and has a 10mm wider track.
SUV styling features include body cladding, scuff plates and bespoke rear bumper.
Three driving modes - Normal, Eco and Slippery - adjust the ESC and traction control settings depending on the weather conditions to give it a degree of off-road capability.
Don't think of this as a fully fledged crossover, however. In the metal it is much closer to a regular hatchback than, for example, the Ecosport, Ford's other offering in the compact SUV segment.
In fact, viewed in isolation, you might well confuse it for a regular Fiesta.
From a driving perspective it rides and handles much like a regular Fiesta, which is to say a whole lot better than most crossovers.
Ford upped its game with the interior quality of the current Fiesta, and the Active model benefits from that.
The option of sport cloth seats with luxe yellow trim is unique to this model. We're only getting one engine option here - the 100PS 1-litre 3-cyl EcoBoost (114 g/km) that returns up to 5l/100km.
It wasn't available to test-drive at the launch drive in France last week, though a 140PS version of it certainly pedalled the Active along rapidly.
Offered in two versions - Active and Active 2 - the Active is specced at a high level that's above the range-topping Titanium trim on the regular Fiesta, according to Ford. Prices start from €21,900, with Fiesta Active 2 from €23,200.
Perhaps the car's biggest challenge is that it falls into a halfway house - neither normal hatchback nor crossover SUV.
Research has continually shown that one of the main reasons buyers love crossovers is the raised driving position.
That's not a feeling you get with the Fiesta Active, which sits quite a bit lower than mainstream crossovers.
But rejecting it on solely these grounds would be a shame. That extra 18mm does make access and egress easier, and gives rear-seat passengers in particular extra headroom.
Combined with its appeal as a driver's car and excellent specification, it adds up to an all-round tempting package.
Sitting low is not something that will concern customers of the other new Fiesta, the ST, which has no qualms about focusing on its ride and handling prowess.
Ford knows a thing or two about building fast versions of its everyday cars.
The outgoing Fiesta ST was without doubt one of the finest handling hot hatches on the market.
It combined an agility and responsiveness that put many much more expensive performance cars to shame.
The good news is the new version is as least as good, if not better, than its predecessor.
The latest Fiesta ST boasts the same horsepower figure of 200PS as the outgoing limited edition ST200, but does so courtesy of a completely new 1.5-litre 3-cyl EcoBoost engine.
Put simply it's a hoot to drive, delivering astounding levels of grip via a wonderfully weighted steering wheel that lets you know exactly what the car is doing at all times.
It's beautifully poised and balanced on switchback roads and undulating surfaces, yet is perfectly comfortable for urban use.
The engine, which features cylinder deactivation when it's not running on full throttle, pulls strongly from nearly any revs, encouraging you to explore the red line time and again.
It sounds great too, more like a 5-cyl unit than three, with burbles and bangs on lift-off.
Priced at €28,120 in ST 2 trim, and €30,270 for Fiesta ST 3, if you want a car that will bring a smile to your face every time you drive it, look no further.