New car road test: Ford Fiesta
The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta has come of age. Jonathan Crouch drives the much-improved version.
This Fiesta may still be a small car but, these days, it thinks big in almost every way, starting with styling to make more of a statement in the supermini segment.
Under the bonnet lies an impressively clean and frugal range of petrol and diesel units, highlighted by the three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost unit already seen in the larger B-Max and Focus models, the world's cleverest conventional petrol powerplant.
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Plus, there's a more up-market cabin, safety technology that can brake the car for you and call for help in an accident and even a clever MyKey device to give parents greater control over young drivers using this car.
This is, in short, a thoroughly well thought-out piece of supermini design.
Variations on the Fiesta theme may come and go but before driving any version of Ford's definitive supermini, there's one thing you almost always know for certain: it'll be a great steer. There's a deftness to the way this car responds, an agility to the way it nips around the bends that no other small car can quite match.
It does help, though, to avoid the poverty 1.25-litre 60PS and 82PS petrol engines at the bottom of the line-up. Get beyond them and things are far more state-of-the-art, the heart of the range based around an award-winning three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit offered in a trio of different guises. Most affordable is a normally aspirated 80PS 1.0 Ti-VCT unit but it's rather slow and only a few hundred pounds less than the version of this 1.0-litre engine I'd point you towards – the 100PS turbocharged EcoBoost unit. It's also offered with 125PS, but only in the pricier trim levels. No, the 100PS variant is all you really need, spiriting you to 60 in 11.2 seconds.
There are other petrol options in this Fiesta line-up – but they're minority interest 1.6-litre options, one the 180PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo powerplant for the hot hatch ST model. That only leaves the 75PS 1.5-litre and 95PS 1.6-litre TDCi diesel units, engines you're really going to have to want to choose over the EcoBoost petrol powerplants.
DESIGN AND BUILD
If you go by the maxim that if something looks right, it is right, you'll probably like this improved version of the seventh-generation Fiesta. As before, it's offered in both three- and five-door body styles and both are tidy pieces of styling with a look now dominated by this massive Aston Martin-like trapezoidal five-bar chrome front grille that's bracketed by a smarter set of laser-cut headlamps with LED daytime running lights. The bonnet also has a more aggressive 'power dome' shape
Inside, the twin-cowled instrument cluster and boldly jutting centre console remains but Ford has not been able to resist the temptation to do a bit of tidying up, relocating the interior door handles and the switches for the electric windows and heated seats for example. Though a few areas of plastic can still be found, overall, it's now a much smarter cabin.
If you're going to be using the back seats regularly, opt for the five-door version: in the three-door, the windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant. Either way, though, you might be surprised at the space available: even a couple of six-footers should be reasonably happy here. Lift the tailgate and you'll find that, as before, there are 276 litres on offer with the seats up and 960 litres with the seats folded flat.
MARKET AND MODEL
Like most superminis, this Fiesta sells in the £10,000 to £18,000 bracket – and there's a pretty typical £600 premium if you want to progress from the three-door to the five-door.
To get yourself one of the clever new 1.0-litre petrol engines or the base 1.5-litre TDCi diesel, you need a slightly plusher trim level. And that means you'll need to have somewhere between £13,000 to £14,000 to spend. In terms of the 1.0-litre petrol powerplants, the 100PS Ecoboost is well worth the £500 premium over the 80PS unit.
Whichever Fiesta you choose, equipment runs to a six-speaker stereo with aux-in and USB compatibility, front electric windows, power mirrors, body-coloured bumpers, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and headlamps that stay on at night to guide you to your front door.
One intriguing innovation is MyKey, a segment-first feature that allows parents to pre-programme a maximum speed and even the stereo volume if they lend the car to a young driver or a friend. Another interesting innovation is SYNC, an in-car connectivity system that features Emergency Assistance in an accident. Plus there's the optional Active City Stop system that at speeds of under 20mph, uses a radar system to constantly scan the road ahead for collision hazards.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
The Ford Fiesta has garnered a reputation for being one of the cheapest superminis to run and this continues. In fact what's remarkable about this improved range is how so many models go below 100g/km. The 1.5 TDCi 75PS, the 1.6 TDCi 95PS and all versions of the 1.0-litre engine all fall below 100g/km. The ECOnetic version of the 1.6-litre diesel registers just 87g/km and a combined economy figure of 85.7mpg thanks to a Start/Stop system. Even the pokiest variant, the 180PS 1.6-litre petrol Fiesta ST hot hatch, manages 139g/km of CO2.
Perhaps the cleverest powerplant of the lot is the three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit. Whether in 100PS or 125PS form, it offers Start/Stop, helping towards 65.7mpg on the combined cycle and registering a 99g/km of CO2 figure, which means free road tax.
The Ford Fiesta has always been a car the British public has warmed to but the truth is that before this seventh-generation model arrived, supermini buyers chose it either because it was great to drive or because they'd been offered a deal too good to turn down. This model changed all that – and this one takes things a step further still – it's smarter to look at, smarter to sit in, smarter to operate and, perhaps most importantly, smarter under the bonnet. In short, this is, more than ever, a car supermini buyers simply can't ignore.
Visit TC Harrison's Derby dealership in Stadium View, Pride Park (DE24 8JH), call 01332 417056 or click on www.tch.co.uk.