The Wheel Deal is blown away by Ford’s fantastic new Fiesta…
In this day and age, with rising fuel prices and an imminent global recession on the cards, small cars make a whole lot of sense. That’s because they sip fuel, are generally cheap to maintain and offer a lot of real-world practicality. The trouble is, not many of them are big on style or offer sparkling driving dynamics. After all, how many times has your heart rate quickened at the sight of a Chevrolet Aveo of VW Polo? Quite.
Fortunately, Ford is set to change this perception with their swanky new Fiesta – a small car that breaks the B-segment mould with its distinctive exterior design, competitive pricing and razor-sharp handling.
Soul of the party
While the previous Fiesta was often cited as being too conservative in the looks department, this new model is anything but. Futuristic and progressive, it incorporates the company’s “Kinetic” design philosophy first seen on the dramatic Ford Iosis concept vehicle in 2005. This means you get a car that oozes visual presence thanks to its beefy wheel arches, defined shoulder lines and a distinctive trapezoidal grille. The latter gives the new Fiesta some serious attitude and will definitely make it appeal to young buyers looking for something individualistic. I was particularly impressed with the range topping 1.6 Titanium model. Sleek and aggressive, it’s one of the meanest three-door hatches I’ve seen a long time.
The interior has also undergone a serious revamp and features a fascia that’s both bold and modern. Supposedly inspired by cutting-edge electronics, I found that most of the controls were logically laid out and very easy to use. There’s even a numerical keypad that lets you operate your cell phone when the car is equipped with the Bluetooth hands-free kit. iPod integration is standard across the range, with even the entry-level models getting a 3.5mm auxiliary-in port. But the biggest revelation was the driving position. Unlike on the outgoing model, where the driver’s seat couldn’t be adjusted low enough, the new Fiesta makes you feel a lot more involved when perched behind the height and reach adjustable steering-wheel. This is great news for taller drivers and makes the car’s crisp dynamics that much more enjoyable. Build quality seems to be improved too. I was woefully unimpressed with the trim in last generation. Sure it might have looked good, but even after a few thousand kilometers the cabin was buzzing with squeaks, creaks and rattles. Fortunately all of the above were absent from the new car over the course of our test-drive.
Feisty little numbers
Besides the radical cosmetic changes, Ford’s new Fiesta range features an entirely new engine lineup. And, benefiting from an intensive development program, all three variants are up on power and down on fuel consumption and carbon emissions. At the bottom end of the scale you get a 1.4 that kicks out 71kW and 125Nm. These are pretty impressive figures for such a diminutive lump and down at sea level it provides a decent amount of poke. Although up here at our power-sapping altitude it would probably be pretty gutless, so I’d suggest you plumb for either the 88Kw 1.6, now with variable cam timing and 149Nm, or the excellent 1.6 TDCI. Sipping just 4.2 litres of diesel on the combined cycle, this was definitely my favourite powerplant on the launch. And although it only produces 66kW, its peak torque peak of 200Nm at just 1500rpm makes forward momentum an effortless affair. Unfortunately, this powerplant isn’t available in the three-door body shell.
All the right moves
Like Fiestas of old this new model is exceptionally good to drive. Stiffer and lighter than that of its predecessor, the new car’s chassis is sure-footed and very capable through the twisties. In fact, I think it’s the best handling small hatch on the market today, punching well above its weight and feeling considerably more lithe than VW’s Polo or Suzuki’s Swift. What did prove to be something of a disappointment, however, was the new electronically assisted steering that lacked the weight of the old model’s hydraulic system. But, despite being overly light, it’s accurate and telegraphs a surprising amount of feel. Capable of handling a lot more power than the 1.6 petrol unit can put out, this new platform bodes well for the future ST version.
All the range
The new Fiesta range consists of three distinct derivatives:
Ambiente: Ambiente spec is the cheapest path to Fiesta ownership, offering body coloured bumpers, Intelligent Protection System, reach and rake-adjustable steering and power mirrors as standard.
Trend: Trend spec builds on Ambiente and adds things like body coloured, powered and heated door mirrors, electric windows and remote central locking. 15-inch alloys and a bright headlamp finish are standard too.
Titanium: Titanium spec creates a premium look and feel, with chrome surrounding the side window. Front fog lamps, leather steering wheel and air conditioning come as standard. With 16-inch alloy wheels and full bodykit for the three-door model, the Titanium gives the Fiesta some serious street-racer attitude.
Besides looking good and driving well, the Fiesta should also be a snip to maintain thanks to its extended service intervals – 20 000km for the petrol engines and 15 000km for the diesel. What’s more, Ford has also thrown in a 4-year/120 000km warranty and a 4-year/60 000km service plan for free. That’s exceptionally good value and should attract the attention of those on the market for a new hatch.
So as you can see, I’ve been suitably impressed by Ford’s all-new hatchback. Well designed, nicely engineered and setup for a lively driving experience, I think it’s just set the new B-segment benchmark.
I was enticed by the corsa colour edition, was wondering what your opinion is of the car and if you have any reason to believe it is not a wise buy. Please also furnish me with alternatives if you believe it not to be a wise buy. thank you!!