Yes, Fiesta's do tend to rust, but if you look after them all is fine, ie no whining etc. Nova's used to be come out of manufacturing and were already rusty in areas (FACT!)
The person with the rusty mk4 Fiesta was either unlucky or must have lived near the sea. I know a number of people with mk4's and none of them have had rust problems, I have never seen a rusty mk4 on the road either. Ford's quality control seems to be generally very good these days.
My mum has a mark 4 Fiesta 1995 model and the rear driver's arch was just showing signs of rusting, but was tended to straight away. And NEVER get a Nova instead of a Fiesta, me and my girlfriend have both got Fiestas, I think they a far superior to Novas, because in Novas, the dashboard is pathetic, the gearchange is terribble and the clutch is heavy, plus they do rot, my mate has a H reg and it is rotten as a pear.
In car years, a 1988 super-mini is as old as a dinosaur, so it's bound to pop its clogs sooner or later. It doesn't matter whether you go for a Nova or Mk 2 Fiesta, they are both structurally weak and in there own way, prone to rust. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for!
By the way, we owned a 1988 Mk 2 Ford Fiesta 1.1 Popular Plus. It was very reliable. This was partly because it was a Ford, but more importantly, it was cared for. We bought it with only 36,000 miles in 1995 and reluctantly sold it in 1998. It wasn't a Ferrari, but it did the job.
I don't like Novas or Fiestas the best small car of that time was easily a metro!!!
Lol at these comments. Of all three the fiesta was the better car (Nova, Metro, Fiesta). Its really no contest. The fiesta has infintely more options available, is bigger (inside and out) and frankly looks a lot better than the flat nosed, manky-grilled nova or dumpy little metro.
Also - have you ever seen a Nova dashboard? Its ugly enough to give even the most hardened criminal nightmares!!
And don't even get me started on metro seats or trim..