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.

Fascinating Cars of 2013

Editor Matthew Phenix and deputy editor Jonathan Schultz revisited the most fascinating cars of the year. Click here for a full list of honorees.

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.

Second Opinion

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