Thirty years after its first mass-market, diesel-powered car debuted in the UK, Ford now sells almost 119,000 of them a year.

Today diesel power represents 38.5 per cent of all Ford car sales, making the introduction of its first mainstream diesel car - a Fiesta in 1984 - a significant landmark. Now, 30 years on, the Fiesta has been named "Small Car of the Year 2014" by Diesel Car magazine for the third year in a row.

The UK's best-selling car for the past five years, the Ford Fiesta, was launched with the company's first volume diesel engine in April 1984. Ford's large car range, including the Granada, had offered a 2.1-litre, 64PS diesel from 1977.

The original 1,608cc diesel engine, also used to power the Ford Escort and Orion diesel models, was boosted to 1,753cc in 1988 and became a mainstay of Ford products for the next 20 years.

The 1.8-litre diesel was replaced in May 2007 by Ford's low-carbon Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel common-rail engines, returning to a 1.6-litre capacity and with the addition of a 1.4-litre TDCi engine soon after. This new line of Duratorq diesel engines was built at the Dagenha Diesel Centre (DDC), which opened in 2003 and remains the home of Ford's small-capacity diesel engine production today.

The DDC continues to produce the 1.6-litre and the new 75PS 1.5-litre diesel engine, introduced last year. In 2013 the Dagenham facility produced a total of 787,398 engines, with Ford's small-capacity diesel units accounting for more than half of those.

Today's Ford Fiesta diesel range is stronger – and greener - than ever, with all variations emitting less than 100g/km of CO2. The 1.6-litre ECOnetic with Auto-Start-Stop returns a combined 85.6mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 85g/km.

Have a look at how 1984 Ford Fiesta Diesel compares with the modern day equivalent: