Ford range gets an Eco­boost

Road­war­rior

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOTORING - HENRI DU PLESSIS

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.

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