Ford today takes the wraps of the latest Fiesta, which will be aiming to become the UK's favourite small car when it reaches showrooms this autumn.

To be seen for the first time at next month's Geneva Motor Show, the newcomer will be striving to improve upon the position of the current model.

More than 12 million Fiestas have been bought since its original introduction in 1976 but although it is the current best-seller in Wales and Northern Ireland it is beaten by the Vauxhall Corsa in England and Scotland.

This latest sixth generation of the accomplished supermini aims to rectify that by incorporating a raft of improvements and leaps in technology to increase its appeal to younger buyers.

It adopts the same family face as the new Mondeo and the latest Focus.

The most noticeable improvements are said to be in terms of the craftsmanship and quality of materials used for both the three and five-door versions, which both boast a sleeker shape.

There will be a choice of half a dozen engines. Both the suspension and steering system have undergone significant development, with electric power-assist appearing for the first time.

There is also keyless entry and start-up via a button on the instrument panel.

Inside is what Ford calls futuristic, mobile phone-inspired technology in the instrument panel.

The new centre console includes a tray for MP3 players with built-in sockets for an auxiliary audio and USB cables plus a 12-volt socket. This enables the car's audio system to control and charge the MP3 player and there is also Bluetooth connectivity with voice control.

Prices for the UK market will be announced nearer to the on-sale date.

** The build-up of Jaguar's new XF model has seen the firm "borrow" around 40 workers from sister company Land Rover.

The workers, normally based at Lode Lane in Solihull, have switched to Castle Bromwich to help out.

Around 9,000 buyers have placed orders for the XF which replaces the S-Type.