Still popular across all generations
Since the Ford Fiesta was first launched back in 1976, more than 16-million have been sold worldwide.
In fact when it comes to sales figures, it is the best-selling car in the UK. Over the decades it has changed considerably and recently the company revealed the eighth generation, which will be in SA in 2018.
Research from MoneySuperMarket in the UK has looked at the design and specification and shown how it developed over time to be the classic hatchback we know today. Each generation introduced something you can’t necessarily see at a glance and the little hatchback’s history makes for interesting reading.
Mark I: 1976 — Originally developed under the project name “Bobcat”, it was subject to a lot of speculation by the press prior to release. With a 957cc Valencia engine, a top speed of 137km/h, 0-96km/h in 18.5 seconds, and 33kW, it might not be a top performer today, but it’s still a classic.
Mark II: 1983 — While changes from the Mark I were relatively minor, the vehicle also featured more space, to incorporate a five-speed transmission, and while the initial launch still used the Valencia engine it incorporated variable venturi carburettors for improved fuel consumption. This was later dropped entirely in favour of the Ford CVH (Compound Valve angle Hemispherical combustion chamber) engine.
Mark III: 1989 — With the engine upgraded to the High Compression Swirl generation of the original Valencia, and the development to a five-door model, the public really caught on and this was the best-selling Fiesta of the early 1990s, at a sales volume of 1-million units inside the first two years.
Mark IV: 1995 — The Mark IV models had a new styling and instrument panel and with the base specifications still had an improved 0-100km/h time of 16.4 seconds, as well as a max speed of 154km/h. At the upper end, the 1.4 Zetec got it as low as 0-100 in 10.8 seconds and a max speed of 180km/h. It also marked the start of badge sharing in SA with the Mazda Soho, although that was to disappear with the Mark VI.
Mark V: 1999 — The Mark V was more of a facelift to the Mark IV than it was a new generation or an upgrade, but it featured reduced fuel consumption as well as being 17kg lighter.
Mark VI: 2002 — The Mark VI was the first model to introduce the antilock braking system and passenger airbags. With an engine anywhere between 1,242–1,998cc and a 0-96km/h time of 7.9 seconds, it quickly became the best-selling Fiesta generation to date.
Mark VII: 2008 — Shown in concept as the Verve, the Mark VII is based on the Ford B-car platform. It sold more than 940,000 in its first two years. The facelift in 2013 was also the first time a trapezoidal grille was used, which featured in the Focus, Fusion and Mustang.
Mark VIII: 2017 — Announced in November 2016, the Mark VIII is stated to be larger, safer, and more efficient. The performance ST models are also set to be improved over the outgoing versions.
Whether you were driven around in the basic runabout versions or were one of those who experienced some of the performance models such as the XR2 and later the ST models, the Fiesta has been a popular choice around the world. Of course, the tech-laden latest generation will be a far cry from the original when it arrives here .
A first generation Ford Fiesta at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.