Our colleagues at Top Gear recently bestowed upon this most engaging Fiesta the magazine’s highest honour – car of the year for 2013. And we cannot disagree. Ford’s Fiesta already brings style and substance to a market segment where such attributes are too often sacrificed on the altar of affordability. The sportier ST model is more than just a more powerful Fiesta, and much greater than the sum of its parts.
The Fiesta ST is a car that, in its simplicity and accessibility, harks back to such spirited people’s cars as the first-generation Volkswagen GTI, the BMW 2002Tii and the Lotus Cortina. It is lightweight, supremely spry and almost cartoonishly nimble. And despite its grin-inducing manners, the Fiesta ST’s virtues as a sensible, reliable, affordable runabout are admirably preserved. It is a car that proves beyond a shadow of doubt that “smart” and “fun” are not mutually exclusive terms.
Since 2006, the Honda Fit – sold as the Jazz in some markets – has monopolised discussion around budget compact hatchbacks. Rather quietly, the Nissan Versa Note chipped away at that distinction this year, with a surprisingly supple ride, gobs of cargo space, cheeky styling and a 35mpg combined fuel economy rating. It swallowed a camera crew for a trip to the racetrack, and though it was in no hurry to arrive, it rode merrily along with the kind of poise befitting a big Nissan crossover. – Jonathan Schultz