IT'S clearly a testament to the overall quality design and packaging of the latest Ford Fiesta that it remains the UK's best selling new car.
Now in its eighth generation the Fiesta also remains streets ahead in the supermini sector - a position its incredibly held for the past eight years - and that's down to Ford's backroom teams coming up with the right goods, at the right price along with some shrewd marketing.
This latest range of Fiesta models is aimed at suiting supermini drivers with differing needs and budgets from the bargain basement of a £13,165 Style trimmed three-door right through to posher kitted out Vignale five-door driven here at an on-the-road price of £21,295.
Ford has always offered a slightly more up market version of the Fiesta ever since it was first launched back in the mid Seventies with the model called the Ghia from collaboration with the Turin based styling studio of the same name arriving here in 1979.
Vignale is now what the luxury brand name - it's being used across other Ford model ranges too - and the obvious question for potential buyers is what do you get for paying out this extra money for a posher version?
Certainly the list of standard equipment on board over the next trim models down - the Titanium and ST-Line - is impressive and includes riding on 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels with a distinctive Vignale front grille and body styling so it looks different from the others.
Inside there's a distinct touch of more luxury and a bit of extra quality with again Vignale black ruby leather heated seats and steering wheel, rear view camera with parking sensors, partial leather heated seats, panoramic sunroof, Bang and Olufsen audio system plus several other minor extra luxury touches.
There's also a quality finish to the dashboard and rest of the interior plus a handy tablet sized Sync3 Ford touch screen which is so simple and easy to use.
This car had Ford's award winning Ecoboost three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet with 98bhp and a six-speed automatic gearbox - there are two more slightly powerful versions of the same engine at 123bhp and 138bhp but they are only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Years ago any small hatchback like the Fiesta with an automatic gearbox on board was pretty dreadful to drive because they were usually CVTs - belt-driven continiously variable transmissions - which were cumbersome for the driver to use, lacked any form of decent acceleration and when revved hard made such a horrible noise.
Thankfully technology has moved on a pace and the six-speed automatic gearbox on this Fiesta Vignale is outstandingly good with such a smooth yet responsive action when accelerating hard and going up and down the gears again it does it so smoothly and quietly too.
It really is exceptional and without doubt the best automatic in any current supermini around. Old CVT transmissions were also renowned for being thirsty on fuel but the 98bhp in this Fiesta Vignale easily topped 49mpg, and just short of the official 54.3mpg combined cycle, over some 600 miles or so of varied driving routes.
For those drivers who want a bit more of a sporty response then simply push the gearlever down another notch into ‘S' mode and there is a slight difference although for most drivers the normal ‘D' mode will be more than adequate.
In terms of running costs this Fiesta Vignale is decent enough too with a CO2 of 118g/km and it sits in insurance group 10E and whilst outright performance of the 98bhp unit obviously can't match those of the two more powerful petrol versions it's no slouch either with a 0 to 62mph of around 12 seconds and a claimed top speed of 111mph.
As for driving in heavy city traffic and again out on the motorway acceleration was fine even though there is no manual gear change alternative on this automatic gearbox as you do get with other cars of this size.
This new Fiesta, which is 71mm longer, 13mm wider and sits 20mm lower than the outgoing model and has a slightly longer wheelbase with the benefit of all this coming in terms of more rear seat passenger legroom, one of the minor criticisms of the previous model.
This Fiesta has already won widespread industry praise for its excellent chassis and competent suspension set up providing good road holding and body control and it remains the most agile and driver-friendly supermini in the market place.
Boot space in the five door is 303 litres which expands to 984 litres with the rear seats folded and a welcome little plus for families in particular is that there's now a bigger, wider tailgate for more ease of loading.
As an alternative to the petrol powered Vignale model there is a five-door Vignale version with a 118bhp 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox (no automatic offered) which comes in at £21,675. This one will appeal more to the big mileage company car driver particularly with its CO2 coming under the crucial 100g/km mark for tax purposes.
Across this whole new Fiesta range, including the Vignale, the two most outstanding improvements is the noticeable lack of road and wind noise out on the open road - they must now be the quietest of any current supermini - and inside it's far more comfortable both as a driver and passenger with better supported seats and a much nicer interior ambience than ever before.