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Ford Fiesta 2004 review

I bounce around like a puppy that's sniffed too many exhausts, exhorting her to come and see the new arrival and she politely tells me she'd rather finish filing her nails.

This is because my tormentor-in-chief is about as interested in motor vehicles as I am in public transport. She might have to use them occasionally, but someone else always does the driving and she remains blissfully unconcerned by what sort of engine it possesses.

As long as there's no gum stuck to the seat and it can recline far enough for her to nap on long drives, they're all the same to her.

As you can imagine, this causes no small amount of tension chez Corby.

Recently, however, we took possession of a car that caused as much excitement as a warehouse full of free shoes.

This unbridled, hand-clapping joy was not shared by yours truly, because the car in question was a Ford Fiesta, which looks like a Ford Focus that's been left in a hot car wash too long and come out two sizes too small.

Apparently, however, the Fiesta is incredibly, indelibly "cute". Furthermore, not only could you park it in a bike rack, it also has "excellent visibility".

The Fiesta is also "wonderful" in many other ways, but it should be kept in mind she still thinks the Holden Gemini is the best car ever built.

To my chagrin, however, I am forced to agree that, for its size at least, the Fiesta is pretty damned wonderful.

The cabin is far classier and better put together than an $18,990 price tag or a Ford badge would suggest.

Of course, for that price we did get the sporty three-door Zetec model, which manages to look not only cute but surprisingly sharp as well.

But you can get an equally chic Fiesta for as little as $14,490 if you choose the three-door, five-speed manual LX. Alternatively, you can get the neat, petite luxury car, the five-door Fiesta Ghia, for $21,490.

Of course, the reason this Ford is so well-built can be detected as soon as you drive it. The indicator stalk is on the left-hand side of the wheel.

This is actually an indicator of quality because it means the car is made in Europe. In the Fiesta's case, it's Germany.

And, as the Holden Astra (now built in Belgium) has shown us, the best Aussie cars are the ones that aren't made here.

The Fiesta's engine, a 1.6-litre four-cylinder, is a truly hard-worker. It moans, groans and occasionally screams if you kick its firewall too hard, but it's a solid performer and makes the most of its 74kW.

Of course, with only 146Nm of torque, it climbs hills like a baby Sherpa – slowly, but with in-built determination.

The four-speed auto our car was fitted with doesn't make life any easier for the engine, and it would surely be a more lively vehicle with the five-speed manual.

The one truly strange quirk of the Fiesta is its cooling fans. Take the car for a hard flog, or even a slow jog, and when you park you will be assaulted by what sounds like a small helicopter whirring into action under the bonnet.

The first few times I heard it I was convinced it was not coming from the cramped confines of the Fiesta's engine bay and that there must have been a hovercraft parked nearby.

That noise, and the roar of the overworked engine aside, the Fiesta is a remarkably refined and smooth machine.

Only the very short of leg would attempt to occupy the back seats, but the front ones are suitably supportive and height-adjustable.

The sporty steering wheel in the Zetec is another nice touch and it communicates a zippy, sharp feel to the driver.

After a week of being driven around in it, the better half showered the baby Ford with the highest praise. Apparently, it's almost as good as a Gemini.

Pricing guides

Based on 25 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

Ghia 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,000 – 3,410 2004 Ford Fiesta 2004 Ghia Pricing and Specs
LX 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,200 – 3,850 2004 Ford Fiesta 2004 LX Pricing and Specs
Zetec 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2004 Ford Fiesta 2004 Zetec Pricing and Specs