The Fiesta is Ford’s global best selling small car with 735,300 sold last year.
In the UK the Fiesta has been the best-selling car overall for the last five years with almost 122,000 sold last year. Already nearly 50,000 have been sold in the first third of this year as it retains the number one position in the UK’s new car sales chart. Ford has been the top selling new car brand in Britain for 37 consecutive years.
In March the appeal of the best selling 1.0-litre Ecoboost 100PS models was increased with the introduction of a new six-speed PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission option for three and five door hatchbacks. Ford expects the Powershift automatic option to be taken up by 5% of UK customers, mainly retail buyers and through the Motability scheme. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost three cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol engine accounts for nearly half of all Fiesta sales in the UK because it delivers the same power as larger engines but with reduced CO2 emissions and better fuel economy.
The new six-speed dual-clutch is electronically controlled for optimum seamless gearchanges and it can be used in a fully automatic mode, sports mode or gears can be selected manually. On the down-side it adds £1,250 to the price of Fiesta with the same engine with a five speed manual gearbox and the fuel economy is slightly less and the CO2 emissions are more.
A 1.0-litre 100PS Ecoboost engine with a manual gearbox will officially return 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km so VED road tax is free every year. Once the auto option is taken the fuel consumption is 57.7mpg and CO2 emissions go up to 114g/km so VED is free for the First Year rate but then it goes up to £30 for Year Two onwards. For company car drivers the manual version will result in an 11% rate for Benefit-in-Kind tax but with the auto this goes up to 14% because of the higher CO2 emissions.
I have just had a spell in a Fiesta 1.0-litre 100PS Ecoboost with the automatic gearbox and with Titanium X specification all wrapped up in the more popular five door body option. This version carries a price of £17,995. Add in a few useful options and of course the prices increases but are worthwhile like the Sony navigation system with DAB radio/CD with Ford SYNC communication costs £400 and front parking sensors £150.
The standard equipment for the Titanium X includes 16-inh alloy wheels, electronic stability programme with traction control and emergency brake assist, rear parking sensors and rear view camera, air conditioning, Quickclear heated screen, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, front fog lights, auto wipers, cruise control, heated front seats, front/rear electric windows, electrically operated/heated door mirrors, part leather upholstery, KeyFree locking system and power-start button, trip computer and stainless steel scuff plates. It is a formidable array of specification and despite the price it is proving most popular with customers. At this level and with the new automatic transmission the re-styled Fiesta is a small car but with all the functions and refinement of a much larger car.
Ride comfort for a ‘supermini’ is first class, the handling sharp and responsive and it is quite easy to see why it is our best-selling car. Another appealing feature is the range of fuel and CO2 efficient turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines on offer through the range. They maybe small in size but produce more power and torque than the larger capacity engines they replace. For instance the 100PS (99bhp) unit I tried with its three cylinder design has won numerous global awards including International Engine of the Year in 2012. Three cylinder direct injection petrol engines are fairly commonplace as manufacturers strive to meet the legal requirements to lower exhaust emissions. The Ford unit, just the size of a box of A4 printing paper no matter which version or power output is chosen, is remarkably smooth with no customary ‘three-pot’ coarseness during acceleration or lumpiness at tickover.
Marry that smoothness with the slick action new twin-clutch automatic transmission and it is a happy union. Having six ratios suits this torquey 170Nm (125lb ft) engine even though maximum torque is developed at a relatively high 4,100rpm. The six close ratios means no power delivery fall-off between gearchanges and there is always the right ratio swiftly engaged when pressing the accelerator to move from slow or medium speeds. The low first gear ratio can be a little harsh engaging from standstill but the upside is it gives spritely acceleration from the stationary position. On motorways the tall sixth gear ratio provides relaxed cruising with a minimal increase in engine noise. Unlike many other small petrol engines I’ve tried this unit does not feel stressed when worked hard to maintain motorway speeds or when driving up steep hills. The new six speed, twin clutch auto gearbox just drops a ‘cog or two’ to maintain momentum.
As for fuel economy? During my week long test driving spell using mainly rural A/B roads, a short motorway trip and some stop/start driving the overall figure was 41.2mpg. Not anywhere near the official 57.7mpg Combined Cycle figure. This will not please some owners or meet their expectations but given the performance and refinement it is realistic. Those drivers with fuel economy on their minds will have the potential to achieve a better figure but my driving was realistic and more or less what I expected.
As for the latest Fiesta itself? The most recent styling updates have given it a more premium look, it doesn’t look a small, cheap runabout. Inside the quality looks and feels improved to some extent but the controls and buttons mounted on the upper central part of the fascia look a mess, they are difficult to use and to understand. They have been like this since the car was launched and the design is used on other Ford models and they don’t get any better to use – in my opinion anyway. Another long-term gripe is the small recessed information/sat/nav screen, too far away from the driver and difficult to see at times.
These are minor issues and should not detract from the overall praise the Fiesta receives from the Media and by customers who buy thousands of them. The new auto gearbox will be the icing on the cake for many buyers.
MILESTONES: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost automatic Titanium X 5-Door. Price: 17,995. Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol 100PS (99bhp), 170Nm (125lb ft) of torque at 4,100rpm, 6-speed twin clutch automatic. Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 11.2 seconds, 57.7mpg Combined Cycle (41.2mpg on test), CO2 114g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 14%. Insurance group: 11E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,969, W 1,722mm, H 1,496mm. Boot/load space 290-974-litres. For: Best selling supermini by far, best looking, best handling, best ride comfort, best small capacity petrol engine now with a slick automatic transmission. Against: Auto option pushes up price and running costs, some fiddly controls, small sat-nav/info screen. Miles better news agency