Ford Fiesta Ambleside
Why it won...
Last year, we asked whether our reigning supermini champ, the Vauxhall Corsa, would be able to see off the challenge of the Ford Fiesta in 2009 – and the simple answer is that it couldn’t. The fact that last year’s winner isn’t even commended this time around shows just how competitive this sector of the market is.
That makes the Fiesta’s domination of its rivals even more impressive. So just why is the blue oval baby so hard to ignore? Well, the writing was on the wall for its competitors from the outset, because the sleek Ford makes its supermini cousins seem dated with its perfectly proportioned and modern looks. It’s the same inside, where its smart new cabin is distinctive and spacious in equal measure.
Inside, the conventional Fiesta delivers a decent amount of luggage space and the kind of dynamic polish that its rivals can only dream of. Ride comfort, refinement and handling all set new standards in the supermini class, as the Ford has the potential to make everything – even the school run or a trip to the supermarket – an involving and engaging journey.
With a huge range of engines and trim levels, there is a Fiesta for everyone, and from the entry-level 1.25-litre petrol to the punchy 1.6 diesel, there isn’t a bad motor in the line-up. The company’s recent spate of price rises means it doesn’t come cheap – but then, the best things in life rarely do…
If you want distinctive looks, the SEAT has it sewn up in this sector. Combine its sporty styling and spacious cabin with affordable prices and you have a great package. It got off to a slow start, but with the diesel models now arriving and the option of Volkswagen’s DSG gearbox, the Ibiza has plenty to recommend it.
For a brand which is renowned for its value, the Hyundai i20 delivers plenty in the way of quality, too. The fact that it doesn’t lead the way in a single area kept it off the top spot, but its broad spread of talents, spacious interior and smart looks make it an excellent addition to the supermini fold. The Korean company’s superb five-year warranty only serves to boost the i20’s appeal.
These days, most superminis are thinly disguised small family cars. This is great if you need the cabin and luggage space – but not if you want a genuinely compact runaround. That’s where the brilliant Mazda 2 comes into its own, because its tiny dimensions set it apart in this company. Only its small boot and disappointing interior quality let it down.