PLEASE NOTE: Add your own commentary here above the horizontal line, but do not make any changes below the line. (Of course, you should also delete this text before you publish this post.)
Price from £10,145
MPG up to 85.6
Top speed up to 139mph
It’s Sunday morning and I’m trailing along a winding country road. Lambs are bouncing about in the sunshine and the Archers omnibus is on the radio. Up ahead a battered Ford Fiesta is pottering along. I can see the curly, white-haired heads of two old ladies nodding in the back seat and I start to wonder if they’re listening to the Archers, too – probably wondering when the dastardly Rob is going to get his comeuppance. The road straightens and I take my chance to overtake. As I pass, I glance over at the farmer driving and then at his two passengers in the back. I can hardly believe my eyes. They aren’t old ladies after all, but two big woolly sheep, happily peering out the window. I didn’t see if they were wearing seat belts…
As it happens I’m in a Ford Fiesta, too. That’s hardly a surprise, since it is Britain’s bestselling car this year. It was last year and the year before that, too. In fact it’s Britain’s bestselling car of all time. We Britons love the little Fiesta, and since 1976 we’ve bought more than 4m of them. Ford has sold an incredible 16m worldwide, which works out at almost 1,200 a day, every day, for nearly 40 years.
This current model is the seventh generation of the supermini. You’ll be relieved to hear it bears almost no relation to the first. That was a right biscuit box and looked like a drawing of what a car might be (by a child who was bad at art). It was about as aerodynamic as a brick. Today those folded-paper edges have been replaced by sweeping curves and wraparound finishing. The Fiesta today has perfect proportions, so it’s hard to guess its scale. It looks quite big in the picture, but on the road it is remarkably neat and tidy – like one of those muscly little gymnasts.
The supermini category is probably the most competitive in the auto market – in World Cup lingo it’s the pool of death. The Fiesta has to battle it out with some little cars with big reps – VW Polo, Vauxhall Corsa, Kia Rio, Mini, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Nissan Micra… Yet somehow the formidable Ford bubbles to the top of the bestseller list time and time again.
There is no one reason why it remains so popular – with the Fiesta it comes down to a combination of factors. It has striking looks and low running costs and it’s great value for money. There is also a huge range of models on offer, from the basic Style through to the hot hatch ST, each with an array of drive systems, from the 1-litre EcoBoost “engine of the year” to the thrilling 180bhp 1.6-litre petrol in the ST. But none of this would matter if it didn’t drive well – and in that department it is a revelation. Ford describes the combination of that EcoBoost engine with Fiesta’s chassis as the best pairing since Lennon and McCartney. It’s hard to disagree.
The most popular spec of Britain’s most popular car is the Zetec – the second-cheapest in the line-up. It gives you everything you get in the most basic model, but with a touch more refinement. We buy it for the same reason we order the second-cheapest bottle on the wine list. We’re cheapskates, but we don’t want the cork dorks on the next table to know that.
Most of us will drive or travel in a Fiesta at some point in our motoring lives. And very few of us will get out of the car having any complaints at all. Just ask those sheep – they looked pretty happy…
The art of cycle maintenance for women
There’s nothing worse than suffering a mechanical when you are out on the open road. And whether it’s a slipped chain, a jammed gear or a flat tyre, it will give you confidence to know you can sort it out for yourself. Which is why Halfords is about to launch Women’s Bike Workshops. From Wednesday 20 May – at 420 Halford stores across the country – women are encouraged to join in the interactive sessions, worth £10, to learn the basics of cycle maintenance. It will also be a good chance to meet other like-minded female cyclists in your area. For more information, go to halfords.com/womensbikeworkshop
Work those muscles
If you do visit one of the Halfords’ cycle maintenance sessions (above) you will almost certainly be told to “Muc-Off”. Hardened cyclists and bikers swear by this ingenious product. You spray it on to the dirtiest, oiliest parts of your machine and then simply hose it off. Now Muc-Off is applying itself to looking after your body as well as your bike. It’s just introduced a range of athlete protection creams. Each has been scientifically formulated to improve and boost your performance from start to finish, including preparation and recovery. There’s Warm Up Cream which allows your muscles to work at an optimum level of effectiveness with an intelligent heating system; Explosive Power Cream which uses Arginine amino acids to help dilate blood vessels and increase blood supply to the muscles; Ultra Endurance Cream which uses Taurine amino acids to convert glycogen into glucose to fuel your muscles. And finally Recovery Balm which increases glycogen storage and hydrates muscle cells so you can fully maximise your training. It smells pretty good too. The creams cost from £15 and can be bought from muc-off.com/30-fitness.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010