Ford Fiesta: A best-selling automotive icon

Jonathan Brown

04 Jul 2018, Blog Post

First introduced to the world in September 1976, the Ford Fiesta has since driven its way into the hearts of millions of customers around the world. Launched in the same year as technology company Apple and supersonic passenger flights on Concorde, few could have predicted the Fiesta’s phenomenal success story.

UK buyers had to wait until January 1977 for the Ford Fiesta to go on sale. It was of its time, a very square body shape offering class leading space.  With a price tag of £1,856 it managed the 0-60mph sprint in a snail-like 19.1 seconds using its 950cc engine. Whilst a serious lack of pace by today’s standards, it was acceptable in this segment in 1977 and managed 41.5 miles to the gallon. The Fiesta Mk1 went on to win best-selling Supermini in 1978. The XR2 gave the range a ‘Hero’ model in 1980 capable of 0-60mph in just 9.3 seconds.

The Mk1 model lasted just 6 years, giving way to the Mk2 in 1983. Although not as sharply styled, the Mk2 appealed to the masses having its best UK sales year in 1987, with 150,000 units. Albeit this model was more face-lift than new model, it was quite different to the eye and with it came the first diesel engine variant, in 1984.

The Mk3 arrived in 1989 and brought the addition of 5 door variants to the range. The Ford Fiesta 1.1LX won WhatCar magazine car of the year in 1989. Whilst in 1990, the Fiesta RS Turbo raised the performance bar for the segment to a new high, with a 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds.

The Mk4 arrived in 1995 with new aerodynamic styling. The most notable improvement to the Mk4 was the segment defining handling as a result of a new suspension system and enhanced chassis. The improved handling together with standardised safety equipment like passenger airbags made the Mk4 Fiesta a compelling proposition. In the three years from 1996-1998 it was the UK’s best-selling car.

Just 4 years after the Mk4, 1999 ushered in the Mk5. Often referred to as a facelift of the Mk4, the intent was to regain the top selling spot, which it achieved again in 2001. The Zetec S derivative was the range topper at this time, which had uprated suspension and brakes.

Moving on just 3 years to 2002, the Mk6 was launched. It regained best-selling car in 2006 and 2007. The Mk6, with its Focus inspired styling, created a square exterior with more interior space whilst introducing technologies such as Bluetooth with voice control and automatic wipers. Ford realised the benefits once again of Fiesta performance models creating the 150bhp ST.

In 2008 the Mk7 launched, with a huge number of accolades. By 2014 the Fiesta won the title of the UK’s best-selling car ever, with more than 4 million units sold over 38 years.  2018 has seen the latest Mk8 version of the Fiesta. This will continue to keep the Ford Fiesta at the top of the new car sales chart. The current range topping ST200 delivers 197bhp from a 1.6 Turbo unit.

The following graph shows the full year registration volumes from 2000 to 2017 and year to date registrations for 2018. With 47,515 already registered in 2018, indications suggest registrations will be over 100,000 this year, replicating the achievement of 9 out of the past 17 years.    

Fiesta Registrations
Ford Fiesta: A best-selling automotive icon

About the author

Jonathan Brown

Jonathan BrownUK Car Editor

Originating from Farnham in Surrey, Jonathan was educated at the Guildford and Farnborough Tech Colleges before he acquired his expertise in manufacturer and dealer network liaison. Jonathan is one of many who has built a colourful and lengthy career with Glass’s having joined the company back in 1989.