The new Ford Fiesta certainly has some big shoes to fill in the UK. Despite the outgoing model’s age, it has retained top spot in the sales charts for almost ten years now, and over a million current-generation Fiestas have been sold since it first went on sale in 2008.

In fact, the annual sales of the Fiesta would be more than some manufacturers’ total figures for a year, which makes the supermini almost a brand in its own right. 

Although it remained a firm favourite among buyers and fleet drivers, the outgoing car was still flawed, especially in the cabin, which lacked the finesse and refinement of some of its rivals. The previous Fiesta also lagged somewhat behind the competition in technology, with the old infotainment system proving especially dated and clunky to use.

However, the new 2017 Fiesta eradicates all of these issues, with a fresh and modern interior that offers higher quality than any Fiesta that has gone before.

It still doesn’t quite match up to the Seat Ibiza or Volkwagen Polo for material refinement, but it’s a significant improvement nonetheless. The dashboard is thankfully less cluttered too.

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Longer and wider than the car it replaces, interior roominess is much improved, with plenty of space throughout the cabin, while boot capacity is also up to 292 litres. That’s bigger than the Vauxhall Corsa, but smaller than the Seat Ibiza and Citroen C3. 

Historically, the most popular Fiesta has been in Zetec trim with the 1.0-litre 100hp EcoBoost petrol engine under the bonnet. Headline figures of 97g/km CO2 and 65.7mpg combined are the best of the bunch here and, thanks to the 100hp and 170Nm of torque, the Fiesta is the quickest of its rivals too, completing the 0?62mph benchmark sprint in 10.5 seconds. 

It’s not only running costs where the Fiesta leads the pack. Its residual value figure of 31.4% also tops the competition, just beating the Seat Ibiza and far greater than the Vauxhall Corsa. Despite these strong figures, the Fiesta has to settle for second place in overall whole-life costs, being just fractionally more costly for each mile than the Citroen C3.

Happily, the Fiesta still leads the class for drivability. It’s easily the most fun to drive of the four cars, thanks to sharp handling and responsive steering. 

Many of the latest driver assistance systems are introduced here, including semi-autonomous parking, lane-keeping aids and a new pedestrian detection system. 

Standard kit isn’t as generous as rivals, however, with some key equipment like cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors only available on higher-trimmed cars.

Some further good news is that prices for the Fiesta have been cut, making the new car now slightly cheaper than the outgoing model.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 100hp Zetec

P11D: £15,270

CO2 (tax): 97g/km (18%)

BIK 20/40% a month: £46/£92

Fuel consumption: 65.7mpg

National Insurance: £1,285

Boot space: 292 litres

Engine size/power: 998cc/100hp

0?62mph: 10.5 seconds

Residual value: 31.4%/£4,800

Fuel costs: £4,778

SMR: £1,424

CPM – 37.4

Key rival: Seat Ibiza

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Like the Fiesta, the Ibiza is also new for 2017 and is not only more practical and spacious than before, it also features a stylish design and an upgraded interior that is currently one of the best in the segment.

Now in its fifth generation, the new Ibiza is expected to be particularly popular among fleet user-choosers, thanks to its low BIK tax costs and generous equipment levels.

Until the new Volkswagen Polo goes on sale in a few months’ time, we’d argue the Ibiza is the best supermini for technology in the mainstream market and comes very well equipped for the price. We’ve chosen the FR spec here, which not only includes sportier touches such as a stiffer suspension, tweaked bumper, tinted windows and twin exhaust pipes, but also tech features like Apple CarPlay, ambient lighting and satnav are thrown in.

Now available solely as a five-door, the new Ibiza was the first car to be built on the VW Group’s new small-car platform, and offers improved interior space and the biggest boot of our four cars here at 355 litres.

However, it’s the most expensive in P11D value, SMR costs and fuel, making the Ibiza the most costly of the four cars per mile. But whole-life costs stay competitive among other cars, thanks to its strong residual value figure. 

There are currently three versions of the 1.0-litre petrol fleets can choose from with 75, 95 or 115hp. We’re testing the mid-range 95hp option, which is a very good all-round performer. However, if you do venture on the motorway often, we’d suggest the 115hp option as a better bet.

Seat Ibiza 1.0TSI 95hp FR

P11D: £15,820

CO2 (tax): 106g/km (20%)

BIK 20/40% a month: £53/£105

Fuel consumption: 60.1mpg

National Insurance: £1,463

Boot space: 355 litres

Engine size/power: 999cc/95hp

0?62mph: 10.9 seconds

Residual value: 31.3%/£4,950

Fuel costs: £5,223

SMR: £1,695

CPM – 39.9 

Key rival: Citroen C3

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Borrowing many styling characteristics from its larger sibling, the C4 Cactus ? including those trademark airbumps ? the new Citroen C3 is arguably the most eye-catching of all its rivals and definitely the most characterful inside and out.

When the car was launched late in 2016, it was a big departure from the outgoing car, which was a little boring in comparison and easily forgettable. 

There is a wide choice of engines available, including the award-winning 1.2-litre PureTech petrol, an excellent all-round engine that comes in three different power outputs. The top 110hp option would be our preferred choice here, but the mid-range 82hp version offers enough performance out on the road and in the city, only really struggling when on
the motorway. 

Although the C3 doesn’t quite measure up to the Fiesta in the handling stakes, its excellent comfort levels help give the car an edge. The C3 also comes loaded with equipment, including innovative features like an integrated dashcam that takes photos and videos on the move that can be shared online via an app.

Despite running costs not being the best, the C3 leads on whole-life costs with a low 36.9p per mile figure, thanks to some very low SMR costs and the lowest P11D value. 

It may not be the first car that springs to mind in this segment, but the C3’s fun nature and quirky styling is proving popular with many company car drivers. Thanks to some compelling whole-life costs, the figures stack up too.

Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech 82 Feel

P11D: £14,240

CO2 (tax): 109g/km (20%)

BIK 20/40% a month: £47/£95

Fuel consumption: 60.1mpg

National Insurance: £1,317

Boot space: 300 litres

Engine size/power: 1,199c/82hp

0?62mph: 13.0 seconds

Residual value: 30.7%/£4,375

Fuel costs: £5,223

SMR: £1,365

CPM 36.9

Key rival: Vauxhall Corsa  

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The Vauxhall Corsa may be starting to look and feel a little long in the tooth, but it hasn’t stopped it from continuing to be one of the bestselling cars here in the UK. Its running cost figures and whole-life costs remain competitive, and the Corsa is cheaper per mile than the Ibiza, but more expensive than the Fiesta and C3. Its residual values are a big letdown here, though, with a disappointing 25.6% of its value being held after three years and 60,000 miles.

Available in a variety of trims in the UK, we’ve chosen the Design spec that comes with a wealth of equipment as standard and is specifically aimed at fleet drivers, including the IntelliLink infotainment system, air-con, DAB radio, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and 15in steel wheels. Not the best-equipped car here, but still reasonable for the price.

Under the bonnet is a 1.0-litre turbo petrol that offers plenty of performance around the town. It feels a little sluggish when you’re trying to gather speed on the motorway, but no more than you would expect from a car  tailored to urban driving.

While its rivals have been on a bit of a growth spurt, the Corsa is still pretty small in comparison. It offers the smallest boot of our four cars, while the interior lacks the character of the C3 or the quality of the Ibiza with a few cheap plastics.

As a value-for-money buy, the Corsa stacks up well. It’s just fallen behind in modern technology, and interior feel and quality; hopefully a mid-life revamp will be on the horizon soon. 

Vauxhall Corsa 1.0i Turbo ecoTEC 90 Design 

P11D: £14,475

CO2 (tax): 107g/km (20%)

BIK 20/40% a month: £48/£97

Fuel consumption: 61.4mpg

National Insurance: £1,338

Boot space: 285 litres

Engine size/power: 999c/90hp

0?62mph: 11.9 seconds

Residual value: 25.6%/£3,700

Fuel costs: £5,113

SMR: £1,412

CPM – 38.2