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ROAD TEST: Ford sets the supermini bar high

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The Trend is Ford’s new entry-level Fiesta.

It’s the cheapest trim level offered with the supermini, replacing the previous Zetec option. With such a name, it seems the manufacturer believes this variant to be the one most Fiesta buyers will go for.

However, by attempting to please all buyers, it can be easy to miss the mark. Titanium trim level, for example, focuses on being a more premium product, with ST-Line cars a sportier option. Does the Trend lack direction or can it prove to be a great all-rounder?

Compared to the Zetec trim level, the Trend receives features such as 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and metallic paint as standard.

Although the Trend was introduced solely with the manufacturer’s 1.1-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine available, a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit has now been added to the line-up.

A 1.5-litre diesel powertrain can also be had with the trim level. All come equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Under the bonnet our test car was fitted with the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine. This petrol motor produces a modest 94bhp but is nonetheless the most powerful unit offered with the Trend – the 1.1-litre petrol gets a mere 74bhp, while the 1.5-litre diesel has 84bhp.

On paper and in testing, the model is no pocket rocket – 0-60mph is dispatched in 13.6 seconds and top speed is a claimed 105mph. But it’s our engine of choice, as it provides just enough power and torque to feel relatively spritely upon acceleration.

Plus, it’s a rather economical little unit. Ford claims the three-cylinder is able to achieve up to 64.2mpg – our example averaged in the high 40s – and emit 94g/km of CO2, making running costs nice and low.

The previous-generation Fiesta was praised for its driving experience, offering fun, polished, confidence-inspiring dynamics, no matter which variant you opted for. The same can be said for this latest Fiesta and – importantly in this case – the Trend.

All the controls are fantastic to use – the steering, although light, is precise, helping the car feel agile and quick to change direction. The six-speed manual transmission has a slick feel to it and the throttle is responsive, especially when the car is in Sport mode.

The 1.0-litre engine, as mentioned before, has some good, accessible get-up-and-go. It must be said, though, the three-cylinder does sometimes feel a tad unrefined and gruff at lower speeds. Overall, it seems better suited to darting around city streets than cruising at 70mph on the motorway, though it copes rather well with both.

Furthermore, despite the Trend’s entertaining, rather sporty handling, it’s more attuned to comfort than other trim levels, namely ST-Line and ST variants.

While it lacks the sharpness of Titanium trim levels or the hot hatch styling of ST offerings, we think the Trend is a good-looking machine. It certainly, at first glance, doesn’t appear to be the base version due to traits such as 16-inch alloy wheels, a mesh design front grille with chrome surround and LED lights.

Over the previous- generation Fiesta, the current car’s cabin is much improved – that goes for all trim levels, including the Trend. While its interior is still not necessarily class-leading, it feels modern and surprisingly premium given the car’s relatively entry-level price tag.

In terms of practicality, the model fairs well. Available as a three or five-door – our test car being the latter – the Fiesta is a very easy car to live with. Passenger space is good throughout the cabin and there’s a decent 292 litres of boot room on offer with the rear seats in place.

But the Fiesta is still a supermini – it’s naturally going to be limited by its size. This can sometimes result in rear legroom being a tad tight for taller rear passengers and people feeling quite squashed when sitting three abreast in the back seats.

Despite its entry-level place within the Fiesta line-up, the Trend doesn’t feel like your conventional gateway into the range.

Dominating the centre of the dashboard is an eight-inch touchscreen. While this size of screen comes as standard, it’s worth noting that sat nav comes as part of a £300 optional extra that includes an additional speaker, Ford’s Sync 3 with voice control and emergency assist as well. Our test car also came with the £350 Comfort Pack, consisting of heated front seats and a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel.

The infotainment system is clear and easy to use but not revolutionary. And while the heated seats and steering wheel came in handy on cold days, we don’t believe it’s an essential box to tick if you’re looking to keep the car’s price down.

It’s hard to fault the little Fiesta and this new Trend trim level. It’s fun to drive, practical and economical too. Plus, when it’s fitted with the 94bhp 1.0-litre turbo unit, it offers just the right amount of poke.

The main cause for concern is the price – coming in at £16,115 from the get-go (rising to £18,545 for our test car), it’s a hefty amount for a base variant, especially with rivals such as the £14,695 Renault Clio Play and £15,390 Volkswagen Polo S existing.

Sure, the Trend is well equipped, but it’s difficult to completely say the price is justified. On the other hand, if you can stomach it, you can’t really go wrong with the model. It’s a superb supermini and a fantastic jack of all trades, as well as being one of the best in the class to drive.

  • Model: Ford Fiesta Trend
  • Price (as tested): £18,545
  • 0-60mph: 13.6 seconds
  • Performance: Top speed 105mph
  • Economy: 45.6-64.2mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 94g/km