Compact car buyers have a rich choice for their next new vehicle. On one hand there are ‘price leaders’ for those with a limited budget and on the other, vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Nissan Micra and Volkswagen Polo which are still competitively priced, but which offer extra features and technical sophistication.
For Car Showroom, we reckon Ford’s Fiesta has been ‘Gold Standard’ in this segment.
Ford Fiesta Overview
Ford had a reputation which was perceived to be limited to large cars, but the 2009 arrival of the previous generation, European-sourced, WS Fiesta changed that rapidly and the ‘Blue Oval’ company enjoyed a 60 per cent surge in small car sales. Ford’s advertising of the outstanding Fiesta ECOnetic as Australia’s most fuel-efficient compact certainly brought a ‘focus’ (no pun intended!) to the Fiesta.
Now the new, facelifted WT Ford Fiesta range has arrived, including an all-new sedan derivative.
The Fiesta goes head-to head with rivals like the Mazda2, Nissan Micra and Volkswagen Polo – and priced from $16,990, its shows Ford is very serious about more success in this ultra-competitive segment.
While the previous Ford Fiesta hatchback was sourced from Europe, launch of the WT lineup coincides with a switch to Ford’s Thailand plant (also responsible for the Ranger ute). Ford Australia says the Thailand product will be available in more plentiful numbers (previous Fiesta supply was a tad tight from Europe).
Ford Fiesta Engine
Major under-bonnet news for the WT Ford Fiesta is the arrival of a second diesel engine to supplement the fuel-sipping 1.6-litre ECOnetic. The new diesel is also 1.6-litres and provides 66kW/200Nm (same as the ECOnetic), but returns combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.4l/100kms (3.7-l/100kms for the ECOnetic) and is available only in LX and Zetec models.
On the petrol engine front, Fiesta’s 1.4-litre unit has been deleted so the sole petrol engine is the lively 88kW/151Nm 1.6-litre. Combined cycle fuel consumption for Ford Fiesta petrol is 6.1l/100kms.
The other big news is the automatic transmission – now Ford’s dual-clutch six-speed which provides 12 per cent better fuel economy than the previous four-speed conventional automatic. It’s a technically interesting transmission which is a sealed (maintenance-free unit).
To achieve that enhanced fuel consumption, the transmission automatically engages neutral when decelerating or sitting idling. It also features hill-start assist (holds the car stationary for two seconds on a gradient).
Ford Fiesta Interior
Quite a few detail changes for the interior of the new Ford Fiesta, but pleasingly the modern dashboard styling has not altered – we reckon the Fiesta’s mobile telephone-like centre console (audio and climate control) is a standout feature.
Zetec models gain new-design sports front seats which are excellent (especially considering we’re talking about a $20,990 compact car).
Ford says the addition of voice control for all models now means the Fiesta offers the best audio system in the compact segment. It’s a single CD, six-speaker system with MP3 and Bluetooth integration. Zetec models also get a USB integration.
New Fiesta also gets extra interior colours.
On the safety front, Ford’s Dynamic Stability Control is now standard across the range, and side and curtain airbags have been added to LX and Zetec models (now seven in total). CL models can be ordered with extra airbags as part of the optional ‘Safety Pack’.
For the sedan, the real standout is the boot – it’s enormous at 430-litres (295-litres for the Fiesta hatchback).
Ford Fiesta Exterior and Styling
Only minor changes for the Ford Fiesta hatchback are included in the new WT range – new bumpers and wheel designs for entry-level CL and LX, while the sporty Zetec scores new-design 16-inch alloy wheels and a sports front bumper with honeycombe grille and some chrome highlights. There are also some new paint colours (now nine to choose from).
Naturally the major talking point is the addition of the Ford Fiesta sedan.
Without doubt Ford’s European stylists did an outstanding job with the Fiesta hatchback – the arrow-like front end, steeply curved roofline and sharp angles in the body contours providing a contemporary and distinctive look.
For the sedan, the sharply-angled fourth side window is replaced by a more conventional triangle-shaped window which shapes into a handsome boot with high-mounted rear lights and some nice lines when viewed from the rear.
Ford Fiesta On The Road
New model, sourced from a different plant, but the same high-standard driving dynamics – that’s the Ford Fiesta story in a nutshell.
After putting most Fiesta models through their paces in the Adelaide hills, we’re still certain this compact superstar is one of Ford’s best ever. The switch to Fiesta production at Ford’s Thailand plant has had no discernable impact on quality, the reduced NVH (over the previous model) is noticeable and the high standard refinement which highlighted the previous generation remains in the new WT Ford Fiesta range.
Sure the range-topping Zetec model - with its 16-inch alloy wheels and new sports suspension tune - was the standout through the twists and mountain descents, but all Fiesta models were nicely balanced.
Ford Fiesta Challenges
The six-speed dual-clutch ‘Powershift’ automatic is certainly well engineered, clever and fuel-saving, but its operation through twisty mountain climbs isn’t as slick as some (admittedly more expensive) rivals in this segment.
Ford Fiesta Verdict
The current generation Ford Fiesta shot into ‘gold medal’ contention for compact cars and the updated WT lineup is even better. The good news for compact car buyers is Ford’s commitment to sharp prices for the Fiesta – at $21,490, the Ford Fiesta provides the lowest-priced diesel compact on the market.
Ford Fiesta The Competition
Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris offers both sedan and hatchback models but no diesel engines. Volkswagen’s Polo and Nissan’s Micra are only available as hatchbacks, but both are beautifully built and of course the German company has an outstanding reputation for small diesel engines.
Ford Fiesta Likes:
A good looker; handy prices; large sedan boot; remarkable fuel-sipping ECOnetic
Ford Fiesta Dislikes:
Six-speed auto takes some acclimatisation