Ford throw down the gaunt­let

All-new ver­sion of the best-sell­ing Fi­esta is go­ing to be a hard car for the com­pe­ti­tion to chal­lenge, finds Matt Al­lan

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - FIRST DRIVE - FORD FIESTA TITANIUM 5-DOOR -

The Ford Fi­esta has been Bri­tain’s best-sell­ing car for the last eight years, with a mil­lion of the out­go­ing model sold in the UK.

So in de­vel­op­ing the new Fi­esta Ford had to be care­ful not to spoil a win­ning for­mula.

To the ca­sual observer the car doesn’t look all-new but this model is 7cm longer and 1.3cm wider than the old one. Closer in­spec­tion re­veals a sim­pli­fied body with fewer creases and bulges. It’s a clean, sim­ple look that im­proves on the pre­vi­ous model.

While the ex­te­rior is a sub­tle re­fine­ment the in­te­rior is mas­sively dif­fer­ent. The old Fi­esta’ s cabin felt old-fash­ioned and poorly thought out and vir­tu­ally every ri­val of­fered some­thing bet­ter.

Now it’s right back up there with the best of them. The clut­tered, but­ton-heavy cen­tre stack has been re­placed with a sim­ple clear ar­range­ment. Higher-spec mod­els have an eight-inch touch­screen boast­ing the lat­est Sync3 sys­tem while lesser mod­els have a 6.5-inch touch­screen with Sync 3 or a 4.2-inch screen with MyFord Dock for mo­biles.

Which­ever screen is present, the ar­range­ments around it are log­i­cal and easy to use and the re­shapedand feels a big step up in de­sign and qual­ity.

Around the cabin ev­ery­thing feels built to last, the seats are firm but com­fort­able and it feels spa­cious, although some ri­vals offer more rear space.

Re­fine­ment is a real strength, with ex­cel­lent sound in­su­la­tion and a smooth ride.

Higher end mod­els get all sorts of good­ies, in­clud­ing heated steer­ing wheel, adap­tive cruise con­trol and that big touch­screen. But even the most pop­u­lar Zetec trim fea­tures 15-inch al­loys and the 6.5-inch touch­screen.

The Fi­esta’s big­gest strength has al­ways been the way it drives and it still leads the pack. Com­posed dam ping means poor sur­faces don’t ruin the ride but it main­tains en­vi­able body con­trol. Quick and ac­cu­rate steer­ing en­gages the driver and make it a fun thing to pi­lot..

The flex­i­ble 1.0-litre Eco­Boost en­gine has been car­ried over in 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp tunes and now comes with a six-speed man­ual gear­box. There’s a 1.1-litre non-turbo petrol and a new 1.5-litre diesel with 84bhp or 118mpg and a claimed com­bined econ­omy of 88.3 mpg.

The 99bhp 1.0-litre is ex­pected to re­main the big seller. It’s quiet and smooth and de­liv­ers a good amount of pull. The 123bhp doesn’t feel much quicker and econ­omy and emis­sions fig­ures are vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal.

The Fi­esta range starts at £12,715 for a 1.1-litre Style. Most pop­u­lar is ex­pected to be the man­ual five-door Zetec with the 99bhp petrol, which will set you back £15,445.

Which­ever trim buy­ers go for they’re get­ting an ex­cel­lent ma­chine. Ev­ery­thing that made the old Fi­esta such a suc­cess is still present and its big­gest prob­lem has been com­pre­hen­sively dealt with. With a pack­age as good as this it’s hard to see its best-seller ti­tle be­ing lost any time soon.

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