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Fiesta moves up

Fiesta moves up

Fun-to-drive aspects that have come to characterise Ford’s Fiesta remain intact in the latest version, but new design elements, improved quality and cutting-edge technologies help the model to set high standards for the compact car segment. Wynter Murdoch reports.

Ford’s new Fiesta appears set to raise the stakes in South Africa’s compact car segment. The latest rendition of the model tends to build on the heritage of the popular, outgoing predecessor, while lifting standards in terms of quality, refinement, technology and safety.

 

Body design refreshed

The vehicle’s widely acclaimed, fun-to-drive character has been given a boost and its new design embodies elements that enhance its appeal as a sporty yet expressly economical runabout. Globally the best seller in Ford’s passenger car line up, the new version sets many segment yardsticks for equipment levels.

 

Available in two specification grades – feature-rich Trend and range-topping Titanium – the Fiesta is now longer and wider than before, with carefully crafted styling cues to emphasize its broader stance – at the front, a large, stretched grille and wraparound headlights and, at the rear, horizontally mounted tail light clusters and a wider tailgate.

Along the flanks, styling lines are straight to accentuate length.

 

 

 

 

Though the body shell remains wedge-shaped, it appears far sleeker than before, with flush fitting finishes helping to reinforce the swisher appearance – parking sensors no longer protrude from the body work, for instance, while windscreen washer nozzles have been hidden beneath the upper bonnet lip.

Also, there are no visible screws in the tail lights or rear fascia; and the shut line at the back between the roof and the tailgate is said to have been reduced by more than 30%, adding to the smooth, refined look and improving aerodynamics.

 

Interior upgrade

Inside, the user-centric cabin is slightly bigger than that of the predecessor’s and, even in baseline specification, offers enough soft-touch surfaces in high traffic areas to impart a high-quality feel.

Switchgear is easy to operate, with far fewer buttons on the centre console, many of the connectivity and entertainment functions having been relocated to a centrally placed touchscreen – a 6,5-inch version in the Trend, and an 8-inch counterpart in the Titanium.

In front of the driver there’s a new instrument cluster with easy to read dials, along with a 4,2-inch multi-function TFT display programmed to relay a selection of useful trip information.

Improvements in cabin comfort are not confined to the extra space created by the redesign. The body shell is stiffer than before, with close attention paid to insulation to help eliminate elements that create noise, vibration and harshness.

 

It all adds up to a smoother ride

Also, wheel tracks front and rear have been widened, while the length of the wheelbase has been increased, making for smoother journeying. Even the underbody of the vehicle has been flattened to better facilitate air flow.

Combined, these enhancements tend to make travelling in the Fiesta a pleasurable experience, the perception being that of a car which offers comfort levels that exceed expectation.

 

Safety is tops

In terms of safety, the model’s active and passive systems have earned five stars in NCAP tests. Features include reinforced cross sections in the doors to help to protect occupants against side impact intrusion, along with the addition of sensors that enable restraint systems to be activated several milliseconds sooner. Front, side and curtain airbags are standard fitments across the range.

Other innovative restraint features include a locking tongue for the driver’s seat belt – a mechanically-activated device that helps prevent slippage of the belt during an accident – which, according to Ford’s spokesmen, eliminates the need for a driver’s knee airbag.

Rear outer seats also now feature load limiters and pre-tensioners – previously offered only for front seats occupants – to further restrain passengers and help prevent belt-related injuries.

Also, pedestrian protection elements have been improved.

All derivatives boast an extensive list of driving aids, including ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), as well as Hill Launch Assist (HLA) Electronic Stability and Traction Control (ESC).

 

 

Under the hood

Engine-wise, the Fiesta offers a choice of petrol or diesel fired plants, each aimed at delivering good performance along with low fuel consumption. Topping the line-up is Ford’s six-time winner of the International Engine of the Year competition – the 1,0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit.

Available with a power output of 74kW in Trend models equipped with six-speed manual transmission – or Trend and Titanium models fitted with six-speed auto gearboxes – the engine proves to be peppy and responsive, easily capable of moving the vehicle smartly off the line and allowing the car to maintain cruising speed at the national limit, with power in reserve for overtaking manoeuvres.

A 92kW version of the plant is fitted to Titanium models equipped with six-speed manual transmission, adding zest to an already sporty drive. If you’re looking for a hot-hatch version, this is the variant to consider. However, if its frugal fuel consumption that you’re after, a 1,5-litre, turbocharged diesel plant – which produces 63kW – is available for the Trend derivative fitted with a manual gearbox.

The engine is impressive not only for its fuel saving credentials – around 3,9 litres/100km achieved without trying during a combined cycle excursion at the launch of the model – but also for its pulling power. With 175Nm on tap from low down in the rev range, the unit is well matched to a vehicle of the Fiesta’s mass, offering good acceleration and excellent cruising ability.

Incidentally, all of the engines in the line-up feature start/stop technology, while a new Eco button in manual transmission derivatives adjusts engine and throttle settings to help drivers save fuel.

 

Talking tech

On the technology side, too, the Fiesta sets impressive standards. Ford’s SYNC3 communications and entertainment system incorporates a voice command application that enables drivers to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones without having to fiddle with switchgear, though pinch and swipe gestures can also be used. 

Reflecting the consumer shift towards portable digital multimedia, all models offer Bluetooth connectivity and two USB ports as standard features. The audio system includes an integrated CD player, with Trend derivatives featuring a six-speaker sound system and Titanium models going one better with seven speakers.

In all, the Fiesta appears set to raise the stakes in South Africa’s compact car segment. The latest rendition tends to build on the heritage of the popular, outgoing predecessor, while lifting standards in terms of quality, refinement, technology and safety.

 

 

Pricing

1,0 EcoBoost Trend (Manual)            R261 900

1,0 EcoBoost Trend(Auto)                 R277 300

1,5 TDCi Trend (Manual)                   R292 500

1,0 EcoBoost Titanium (Manual)       R295 900

1,0 EcoBoost Titanium (Manual)       R310 600


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