Ford range gets an Ecoboost
A REALLY cute and fun-to-drive little car I had the pleasure of meeting this year was Ford’s onelitre Fiesta Ecoboost.
That is a little 1 000cc, threecylinder car that can really go. I was astounded by the engine’s performance, but the best thing was what a great overall package this car turned out to be. It comes close to being my car of the year.
The only fault I found is that it is nowhere near as fuel efficient as Ford claimed. It still is one of the most miserly I’ve driven in a long time, but Ford was a little over-enthusiastic with its consumption figures. But that’s all I could fault. The positives on this brilliant little car outshine that.
It sounds like a million bucks. That little three-cylinder engine makes such a lovely noise, one could swear one was driving a V6. And, despite its modest dimensions, the Fiesta body shell allows for all the comfort one could wish for in a small five-door hatch.
I could not fault the car for its drive and road manners. I found the car’s handling positive, forgiving and downright sporty under the right conditions. The manual shift gearbox was lovely. Shifts were smooth, short and quick.
That is why I sat up with a jolt and my ears pricked up when I saw an announcement by Ford about the Ecoboost Fiesta in my inbox this week. Yes folks, believe it or not, the Fiesta Ecoboost is now also going to be available with a dual clutch transmission.
Okay, there is a difference. So far, the dual clutch transmissions we have come to know had appeared with the paddle shift function behind the steering wheel for sporty manual shifting. This Ford will only have the usual automatic engagement lever on the floor allowing shifting between Driver, Neutral, Park and Reverse. But read on to understand the advantage.
“The 74kW 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will be paired with Ford’s advanced, six speed dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission – the first time Ford has combined the two technologies,” the statement said.
It is a major step forward. I look back to the mid-1990s and remember when the Ferrari 360 appeared on the scene with Ferrari’s second generation paddle shift transmission. It felt like a million bucks and almost cost that too and although it felt wonderful to drive, it was a nightmare compared to today’s units. The first generation was introduced on the 355 F1, but it was a bit of a disaster – nice on the open road, but dreadful in town with way too much slack in the take-up at pull-away or reverse.
Things have developed apace. The modern dual clutch transmissions have become the vogue at the top of the market. And now, thanks to Ford, it is available, obviously not as radical as in a Ferrari, in a sub-R300 000 car.
Let’s remind ourselves how it works. Unlike regular hydraulically operated automatic transmissions, which use power-sapping torque converters, wet clutches and pumps, Ford’s dualclutch PowerShift automatic consists of two manual transmissions working in parallel.
Each has its own independent clutch unit controlled by computers and fast- acting electromechanical actuators that shift the gears. One clutch carries the odd gears, 1, 3 and 5, while the other carries the even gears, 2, 4 and 6, and reverse. PowerShift is an automatic because the gear changes are co-ordinated by a computer that directs the clutches to engage and disengage in a way that provides seamless delivery of torque to the wheels, even during gear changes.
Recommended retail price ( including VAT) of the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend PowerShift is R230 800.
The next step has to be a paddle shift manual version. Complete with Ford racing blue and white stripes. I see it now.
PERSONAL BEST: The Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend PowerShift is a dream to drive.