NO SIESTA FOR FIESTA
As superb to drive as ever, the new Fiesta features updated connectivity tech and more space … but it can’t afford to snooze with a daunting rival round the corner
IIt’s testament to the skill of the outgoing Fiesta that, nine years after its initial launch, it’s still a force to be reckoned with in the B-segment, the world’s largest vehicle sector in terms of sales.
Sure, the Fiesta’s cabin – not exactly classleading in terms of usability and perceived quality way back in 2008 – has lagged behind the best in the sector for infotainment technology and space utilisation, and those are some of the main areas Ford has addressed on the new model. The rest – engines, chassis and suspension – have been carried over, with tweaks here and there to ensure the powertrains meet stringent emissions standards and the dynamics maintain the Fiesta’s all-conquering status in the bends.
The local launch takes place in the second quarter of 2018 and we’ll get the five-door version only. It’ll be fitted with the below The new Fiesta is 71 mm longer and 13 mm wider than before, but the wheelbase has gone up by a scant 4 mm. brilliant 1,0-litre, three-cylinder Ecoboost in two states of tune, 74 and 92 kw, mated with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch with the same number of ratios. Specification will be Trend and Titanium. Additionally, Ford SA will offer the 63 kw/215 N.m 1,5-litre diesel in Trend spec and solely with a manual ‘box. Europe gets St-line and luxurious Vignale trim (the latter pictured here), but those aren’t slated for our market (a real shame in the case of the former; it looks like an ST, and considering the great success VW has had with its R-line products, a missed opportunity by Ford).
For the first time stretching more than four metres long – 4 040 mm, to be exact – the new Fiesta is a notably larger car than the previous one, but still looks compact and taut. The new horizontal rear lights look smart; large wheelarches mean alloy sizes have increased,
balancing the proportions; and the shallow glasshouse and deep door metal imbue it with a solid, premium appearance. The only bum note, perhaps, is the design of the headlamps. Encased in LED daytime-running lights, seen right from the front they look a touch nondescript. But that’s bordering on nitpicking; overall, the Fiesta’s design is a success.
The good news continues inside. Gone is the facia festooned with tiny buttons and in its place is a freestanding eight-inch screen containing the newest version of Ford’s Sync 3 communications and infotainment module.
Fit and finish are generally good, but there are areas that feel cheap, such as the door pulls and seat adjusters. Overall, however, it’s on par with vehicles such as the Mazda2 and new Kia Rio, although not quite on the level of sophistication of the current Polo.
Ford claims rear legroom has been boosted by 16 mm and that, together with scalloped front seatbacks, the vehicle affords those passengers seated in the rear more comfort. I could just about squeeze my 1,84-metre frame in behind my driving position, with my head lightly grazing the rooflining. That’s par for the course in this segment, and only vehicles such as the Honda Jazz and Suzuki Baleno are notably more spacious. The boot measures 292 litres.
Ford claims the new Fiesta has 35% more ultra-high-strength Boron steel in its structure, while more laser welding, stronger attachment points for the front subframe and new, welded at- tachment points on the rear axle have seen the model’s torsional stiffness increase by 15%.
Likewise, the suspension has come in for revision. The front track spans 30 mm extra (and the rear by 10 mm), while larger axle mounts have been fitted to better filter out road scars.
Combined with a reworked six-speed manual transmission and electrically assisted power steering, the Fiesta retains the dynamic sparkle that has set generations of this vehicle apart in a segment that’s somewhat bereft of driving pleasure. Body roll is kept firmly in check, there’s very little understeer – the car has torque vectoring that’s meant to work imperceptibly, and it does – and the steering is perfectly judged.
Now, however, the Fiesta also rides even more fluidly. On 18-inch wheels enveloped in low-profile rubber, the scant few lumps and bumps of Spanish tar were heard more than felt. I’d go so far as to say this is the bestriding vehicle in the class.
Likewise, the powertrains are as good as you’d hope. The 1,0-litre Ecoboost, a multiple Engine of the Year victor, is brilliant: smooth, quiet and punchy.
There’s a caveat, though, and it’s one that applies to all downsized, turbocharged petrol powertrains: indulge in the easily accessed performance and fuel economy quickly spirals upwards. Following one spirited drive up a deserted pass north of Madrid, consumption nudged 9,0 L/100 km. Drive it far more sedately, though, and you can expect to come closer to matching the claimed 4,3 L/100 km.
If economy is your main reason for picking a Fiesta, the 1,5 TDCI is the one to pick. It, too, is refined, there’s oodles of torque for safe overtaking and vibration at idle is all-but non-existent.
Ultimately, it’s business as usual with the new Fiesta. It has few vices and enough segmentleading elements, with the Ecoboost engine and sublime chassis foremost, to strike fear into the hearts of its competitors.
However, a potential hindrance to success might be the upcoming new Polo that launches a month earlier than the Ford and looks likely to trump it for perceived quality. That said, this first taste has confirmed Ford hasn’t been on siesta and has pulled out all the stops to once again reign supreme in the brutal battle for the B-segment.
The 1,0-litre Ecoboost is brilliant: smooth, quiet and punchy
clockwise from top A panoramic sunroof is now offered as an option; all models bar the base versions have projector-style headlamps with running lights; standard-fitment torque vectoring brakes the inside wheel to guide the vehicle tighter into a corner.