Ford of Britain said on Thursday it had sold 11,500 new Fiestas in the 77 days since the redesigned model went on sale on 1 October - with more than 9,000 going to retail customers. The retail sales rate so far is 80 per cent - a substantial increase on the more usual 60%.

The Zetec version remains the most popular, with 51% of sales. The Zetec models were introduced with a GBP500 incentive and 'free' Bluetooth. The most popular colour has been panther black (21%) followed by the new hot magenta shade launched with the model (15%).

Ford marketing director Mark Simpson said: "Dealers are telling us that people are coming out of their Peugeot 207s and Renault Clios to get into the new Fiesta."

The model has just been introduced 'down under' in Australia and has attracted favourable press reviews. Initial supplies are from Germany but Ford's Thai plant will eventually build the line for Asia-Pacific markets.

The Fiesta is also destined for China, India and North America, where sedan versions are expected to be more popular than the hatchbacks offered here in Europe.

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