After numerous all-but-production-ready 'concepts' displayed at motorshows as far flung as Geneva, Detroit and China, Ford has finally taken the wraps off the production Fiesta developed in Europe for the world.

Three- and five-door versions come off European assembly lines this summer and "regionally-tailored" models should be on on sale in Asia, South Africa, Australia and the Americas (North and South) by 2010.

First impressions are of a very attractive, well-specified and equipped little car that should give North American dealers, currently weighed down by stocks of unwanted large SUVs and trucks, something fuel-efficient to sell to customers who might otherwise cross the road for a Toyota Prius or Honda Fit. Or even a GM Saturn Astra, a model consumer writers deemed a little pricey (that pesky euro) but little changed from its original Opel form and good to drive on US roads.

European buyers will get the Fiesta with four petrol and two diesel engines, a variety of transmissions, a half-dozen trim packs and adequate standard equipment (eg range-wide power mirrors) and options (keyless entry, start button, automatic projector headlamps, automatic windscreen wipers, 3.5 inch display screen and cruise control.

Electric power steering is fitted and two new engines include an ultra-low CO2 'ECOnetic' version with target emissions of only 99 g/km and a top-line 120PS 1.6-litre 'Duratec Ti-VCT'.

Over 55% of the body structure made is of high-strength steels and the shell is about 40kg lighter.

The standard knee airbag is the first in a Ford small car - and there are also head-and-thorax side airbags, and optional safety curtains. The new model also has EasyFuel capless refuelling.

European sales start in October.