Since 1976 when the first Ford Fiesta ‘supermini’ three and five door hatchback models were introduced to the World markets, 15 million have been sold in 62 countries worldwide, over 4 million of them in the UK.
The Fiesta is now the world’s best selling small car with 723,130 registered globally last in 2012.
The Fiesta has been the UK’s best-selling car since 2009 and was Europe’s top selling small car in 2012. Despite the economic gloom, the weather and increased competition, European customers bought a new Fiesta every two minutes last year.
The UK is the most successful of all European markets for Fiesta sales and the love affair go on. In January 2013 the Fiesta received its mid-life update and UK sales are again on the up with 34,309 being sold in the first quarter of this year. The Fiesta still retains its number one position in the UK’s top ten new car sales chart.
With more and more customers downsizing in their choice of cars to reduce running costs, the purchase price and for company car users- their personal tax liability, manufacturers have responded by making their smaller cars roomier with improved larger car specification, more sophisticated technology, more fuel and CO2 efficient engines and they have given them a more stylish design.
The latest Fiesta is a good example of these moves. Gone is the dumpy styling, now taken up by the B-Max compact MPV, with the new 2013 model year Fiesta with its new bonnet and nose having become more stylish.
The new Fiesta face is dominated by a trapezoidal front grille, very Aston Martin in looks, and bracketed by laser-cut headlamps with daytime running lamps that use LED technology. It features a power-dome bonnet design and is offered with 17in alloy wheels. The new Fiesta is available in a range of bright, eye-catching colours, including new Copper Pulse, Hot Mustard and Candy Blue.
Ford has relocated electric window switches, heated seat switches and interior door handles in the new Fiesta. Depending on the specification level chosen from Studio, Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X, a full leather-rim steering wheel is offered for the first time and a new five inch central colour display supports the model’s first integrated navigation system. The ST 180bhp three-door sports versions are due to join the range soon.
The new Fiesta features a high-gloss finish for the upper instrument panel that flows to the lower centre console and is replicated in the door panels. A satin-chrome detailing finish is also offered along with Ford’s signature Ice Blue lighting to illuminate dials, switches and displays. The fascia switches remain cluttered and numerous and are not that logical to use.
New seat fabrics and designs are offered with high-quality leather, partial leather, comfort fabric and sport fabric trims. Eye-catching new patterns and textures including highlighted stitching also add to the pleasing new interior ambience, while additional supporting bolsters improve comfort. The latest Fiesta also offers improved storage features including a concealed load space beneath the boot which has an adjustable floor height to simplify loading.
The additions and changes don’t stop there because the new Fiesta is Ford’s first car in the UK to feature their MyKey technology which for instance enables parents to place restrictions on younger drivers to promote safer driving. MyKey allows personalization where the top speed can be limited to 80mph, its Speed Minder alert function can be programmed to sound at 45, 55 or 60mph to improve speed awareness, it has a maximum audio limit if desired of 45% of the maximum volume, traction control cannot be disabled, a persistent seatbelt reminder audible alarm is included, it has earlier low fuel warning, it prevents the parking aid being turned off and it prevents Active City Stop emergency braking being disabled. Some might see this as a ‘big brother’ intervention but if it stops reckless youthfulness bad road manners it improves safety and should help reduce insurance costs. Ford has also equipped the latest Fiesta with Ford SYNC, a voice activated in-car connectivity system and SYNC Emergency Assistance which directly connects the vehicle occupants to local emergency operators after an accident in the UK and Europe. Also on the Fiesta’s improved ‘goodies’ list is Active City Stop which can automatically help avoid or mitigate low speed collisions. All big car features but important additions into a small car.
The three and five door new Fiesta hatchback range currently has nine engine options, (six petrol and three turbodiesel) six of them delivering sub 100g/km CO2 emissions. The engine line-up includes the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi ECOnetic 94bhp, 87g/km, 85.6mpg unit with zero cost VED road tax and 13% Benefit-in-Kind tax for high mileage company car drivers. But the stars of the line-up are Ford’s award winning 1.0-litre, three cylinder 99 or 123bhp turbocharged ECOboost petrol engines all with 99g/km of CO2 so they are road tax free, with 10% BIK tax and both officially return 65.7mpg.
New mainstream Fiesta model prices officially range from £9,995 up to £17,545 but we know the actual price paid can be lower than that especially when the new range has been on the road a bit longer. The three-door ST versions will cost from £16,995. Pick of the line-up I regard as the 1.0-litre ECOboost 100 (99bhp) 5-Door Zetec specification which officially costs £14,345 but a spare wheel will add £95 and the worthwhile DAB radio/CD and Ford SYNC package will cost an extra £300 but it’s worth haggling to get the best overall deal. Electrically operated windows and door mirrors, on-board computer and air con are of course standard fit for Zetec models.
The 1.0-litre ECOboost 99bhp engine has a muted three cylinder engine growl during acceleration, all part of its charm but don’t be put off by its small capacity. It one of todays modern turbocharged direct injection petrol engines that break all the old rules of size equals performance. With a top speed of 112mph and a zero to 62mph acceleration time of 11.2 seconds it is all most motorists need. The 123lb ft of torque delivered from only 1,400rpm makes it impressively flexible at low speeds and the acceleration belies its small capacity. It cruises with ease at high motorway speeds even with four adults in the car. The only time you realise this is a one litre engine is on steep hills where a trip down a cog in the five-speed gearbox is needed to keep the engine in its rev band.
Officially this engine will return 65.7mpg in the Combined Cycle. The best my test car returned on a long motorway journey was 48.7mpg and the test week of motoring with long, short and commuter stop-start driving returned an average of 44.4mpg, well down on the official laboratory EU obtained figures. Even with this significant mpg deficit, 44.4mpg from a petrol engine is impressive enough, especially as there is no VED road tax to pay and there is no performance penalty.
Most customers will not find it worthwhile paying the extra £1,050 to move up to the 123bhp/125lb ft version of the same engine but with Zetec S specification. And both units significantly out perform in all ways the Fiesta’s older 1.25-litre four cylinder petrol unit although the Zetec 1.25, 81bhp version five door is cheaper to buy at £13,345 but the poorer performance, lower fuel economy and higher road tax really make it a non-starter.
The latest Fiesta has lost none of its best in class handling and ride comfort qualities that have made it year-after-year the best performing affordable ‘supermini’ on the market today and remains the benchmark model in this sector. With its new styling the Fiesta now looks a more sophisticated and up-market vehicle on the outside and generally the interior looks and feels good as well, everything today’s motoring ‘down-sizers’ and ‘down-pricers’ want. If something could be done to clear the clutter of the centre console switches and increase the size of the recessed information screen that would be the only improvement needed to make the new Fiesta a perfect family hatch for new and existing owners. It is the best ‘supermini’ by far and we still have the high performance ST versions to come.
MILESTONES. New Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.0-litre ECOboost 100PS 5-Door. Price: £14,345. Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre,, three-cylinder, turbocharged direct injection petrol engine, 99bhp, 123lb ft of torque from 1,400rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 11.2 seconds, 65.7mpg Combined Cycle (44.4mpg on test), CO2 99g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 10%. Insurance group: 11. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,969mm, W 1,722mm, H 1,495mm, boot/load space 295 to 979-litres (with no spare wheel). For: The best five door supermini by far, brilliant responsive petrol engine, low running costs with no road tax, new sophisticated and stylish front end design, high tech safety specification as standard or as an option, comfortable ride. Against: Cluttered fascia controls, tiny recessed information screen, real-life fuel economy didn’t get close to the official figures but were still impressive, spare wheel costs extra. Miles Better News Agency