Quite simply a huge amount of automotive fun for not a lot of outlay. Bought a moderately modified 'fezza' about 2 years ago for less than the price of ticking the "yes I'd like premium audio in my new Audi" box. The mods done to it mean the 2 litre NA engine puts out about the same power as the current Fiesta ST with the 1.6 Turbo.
I've always enjoyed driving small cars and this one follows the old fashioned small Ford formula of picking the smallest car in their range and stuffing into it the biggest engine from the class above that they can fit in the engine bay. No turbo, no fancy variable valve timing, just a DOHC 16 valve 2 litre engine wedged into a 1000 kg vehicle. This does mean you need to rev the tacho past vertical (3000 rpm) before the engine really starts to come on song.
Let's be clear, this car is not as fast as it thinks it is, but whether it's frenetically scrabbling its' way around a roundabout like a Jack Russell on tiles or linking up tight apexes on the Kinglake road or Reefton Spur it rarely fails to generate high grin/km rates.
Burbles and pops on downshifts make tunnels and cuttings an aural delight, steering is direct and always gives good feedback. With an open diff, torque steer will tug on the wheel occasionally to let you know you're trying to put too much power AND steering through pretty much one wheel but interestingly this is far more apparent on the road than on the track day I took it on. Yes, I did feel like the guy who bought a knife to a gunfight but huge fun nonetheless.
The only issues to date have been a water pump replacement and I did upgrade the power steering cooling system, all other mods by previous owner.
The suspension can be very stiff but any pothole you can see you can drive around, mid corner or not.
Works surprisingly well as a daily commuter, low ratios in the gearbox and reasonable torque mean you CAN potter around town at low revs and return reasonable fuel consumption.
As a P plate approved vehicle that comes with 6 airbags and DSC I'd highly recommend these vehicles to a young enthusiastic driver who wanted to enjoy their driving and learn a bit about handling dynamics without reaching stratospheric velocities.