The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best selling car and has been since 2008 when it usurped its bigger brother, the Focus. Yes, in cash-strapped, austerity UK the public are downsizing and has been since the first death knells of the property boom were sounded.
So the 2013 Fiesta is an important car for Ford and they have to get it right. We’ve been running a Focus with the EcoBoost engine
for 6 months – and we loved it. So popping it into the sweet-handling, lighter, and updated Fiesta chassis has to be a good thing, right?
The first thing that strikes me about the new Fiesta is the Aston Martin-esque front grille, something Ford probably didn’t do to help the Newport Pagnall based outfit to celebrate their centenary but to add some gravitas. And they near-as-dammit carried it off. The Fiesta isn’t a serious car, but it is maturing; the target market of young, bright things will appreciate its newfound illusion heft and substance. It no longer looks like a cheap car, and hasn’t for a quite a while now.
The rest is neatly done and looks terrific. It’s slippery too, something that the complete absence of traffic film and muck from the road revealed, despite sleet and the odd flurry of snow during our test drive. It’s still recognisably a Fiesta, but is now sleeker, more feline, and looks reassuringly expensive.
The interior is obviously ergonomic but it is a little fussy. Shiny black plastic just doesn’t cut it for me and distracts from what is undoubtedly a very well made interior. Aesthetics aside, it all works rather well. It’s comfortable and drivers of all sizes will be able to get comfortable, thanks to the wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment that is available. Space is the back can is a bit cramped but the boot is big enough for most people’s needs.
There are now five trim levels – Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium, and Titanium X) – that bring a bewildering range of standard and optional equipment. It’s a vast range, and too complex to go into in any detail here, but three things are worth pointing out: the launch of a premium trim level above Titanium points to the fact that Ford customers might be downsizing but they still want a spot of luxury; the MyKey concept
is a brilliant example of lateral thinking and a major step forward in road safety for younger drivers; and, finally, the safety equipment on the Fiesta is first-rate and plentiful.
Active City Stop helps avoid low-speed collisions and is one of the features that helped the Fiesta gain a 5* Euro NCAP safety rating. Foreign travel is made easier and safer too, with the introduction of the multi-lingual SYNC Emergency Assistance function, which will automatically dial for help and give the co-ordinates of the car – and will do so in 26 different languages, covering 40 European regions.
All Ford’s sparkle on the road and the new Fiesta carries on that fine tradition, feeling supple and poised, nimble and eager, a rare combination and one that drivers of all persuasions are sure to like.
The steering might be a touch light for some, but the brakes have some feel and weight to them – and they work well. The gear change is light and positive, as is the clutch. This is an easy car to drive well, and yet manages to flatter and reward at higher speeds too.
We covered city streets, A-roads, and dual carriageways and the little Ford coped with them all admirably, even if its diminutive size does mean that you can feel a little vulnerable on motorways.
Seven powertrains are available in total, but we focussed on the 1.0-litre, petrol EcoBoost, the International Engine of the Year 2012, an accolade that reinforces its serious credentials. We drove the 125PS version, which, like every EcoBoost, revs beautifully and is unobtrusive until your explore the upper reaches of the rev range, when it turns into a guttural NASCAR of an engine.
Our car, at 125PS the most powerful of the two available, reached 62mph in 9 seconds thanks to a healthy 125 lb/ft of torque (and up to 148 if you take advantage of transient overboost). The top speed is 122mph, so a 70-80 cruising speed is easy and sustainable for long distances with little effort.
More important to many is the 99 g/km of CO2, which qualifies the Fiesta for free car tax. It also means that while you might not match the official combined consumption figure of 65.7mpg you should be in the upper 50s without too much trouble.
A 100PS version of the 1.0-litre engine is available, and there is no doubt that even the smaller of the two is powerful for all but the most committed driver. Those who want performance, rather than economy, will have to wait until March or April (Ford was unclear as the exact date) for the 185PS ST version, which should be a rapid snorter of a car.
Diesels are available too, but do your sums very carefully; you’ll have to cover a lot of miles and/or own it for a very long time for the economics to make sense. And, anyway, the EcoBoost is a lovely little thing…
Value for Money
The Fiesta was named Used Car of the Year 2012 by industry experts, CAP, something that can only help its residuals, something that hasn’t always been its strongest suit.
It’s not the cheapest car in its class to buy either, but then nor is it the most expensive – and we would expect deals to be available in the showrooms if you are prepared to haggle…
The Fiesta is an attractive package; it looks good, is safe, reasonably economical, holds its value well, and is very good to drive. It is in short, the ideal candidate to retain its position as the best selling car in Britain.
Alternatives include the VW Polo
(better fit and finish to the interior) or Suzuki Swift
(cheaper, and it feels it, but almost as good to drive) but, for the time being, the Fiesta
continues to be the default option in its class.
Save over 10% off a new Fiesta and buy from an official Ford dealer close to you. Simply select the Fiesta you want
and dealers will submit their best prices to you online. You can compare them and contact the dealer directly. It’s completely free and the smart way to buy a new car.