We drove the all new Ford Fiesta: more than ever a feast behind the wheel…

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Ford presented its all new Fiesta for us in front of a charming chateau in ST-Line, Vignale and Titanium versions… 

Ford’s long awaited successor of its class winning supermini has finally hit our roads, and we were personally invited at a classy chateau to sample first driving impressions. Ford has always had a formidable card up its sleeve with the Fiesta. It has been successful for 40 years now, and the previous Fiesta remained throughout its full eight production years always near the top of its class.

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Competition in this segment is fierce however, with contenders offering ever more cabin refinement, driving aid and connectivity electronics. Time for Ford to catch up here with its latest Fiesta. The result is truly impressive. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stylish and refined

The new Fiesta is a gradual and well balanced styling evolution from its predecessor, and the styling language has paid good attention to strong model identity and family resemblance.

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The designers have kept the typical shape of the grille, found in other Ford models too and which pays a worthy tribute to the beautiful proportions of the classic Aston Martin grille, and as Ford has owned Aston Martin, why not let shine some of its beautiful pedigree to your production models? A very wise decision indeed, and it gives the present Ford model range that extra panache, with the Fiesta being no exception.

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Stylists also kept also the rising waistline and the swept back headlamps, but rather focused on the rear of the car, which now looks bigger, wider and more taut with larger and more horizontal rear lamps. Technically, the new Fiesta still runs on the (global) B platform, but now has a 4 mm increased wheel base, and is 71 mm longer and 12 mm wider.

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When you step in the car, you notice immediately where the big changes are. The cabin has now a premium appeal, with not only stylish instruments and nice to touch quality materials, but this supermini is also equipped with a large touchscreen which sits in tablet-style on top of the dashboard. Standard it is 6,5 inch, but this can optionally be as big as 8 inch.

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A premium interior, here even more luxurious in the Vignale version…

One disappointment is the hard plastic of the inner front door grip, with is also too horizontally placed for our liking. A slightly steeper angle and extra padding would convey that premium feel (literally) just a touch more.

Driving pleasure is paramount…

In all the Fiesta’s, and it is now in its eighth generation, driving it is believing. Agility, responsiveness, excellent handling, they all had it, and certainly the last model, which when it came to road manners, was utterly impressive, despite the fact that it started life eight years ago.

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Well, the Ford engineers upped the ante even further. There is a 15 pct increase in torsional stiffness, Electronic Torque Vectoring Control gets you even 10 pct more cornering grip, with of course braking also further improved.

Truly superb road manners are the result, with impressive comfort to match, even in the more sporting  ST-Line version. Suffice to say here that the more alert ST-Line version sits 10 mm lower and has stiffer springs and dampers. We drove the ST and the posh Vignale version. Certainly the latter impresses with a lavish cabin and impressive equipment, down to even a Bang & Olufsen 10 speaker sound system.

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The new Fiesta steers precise and light, cornering ability is nothing short of breathtaking, stability is magnificent also on rough frost ridden tarmac. Even potholes taken at high speed cannot push the Fiesta off its chosen line. The new Fiesta awakens the better driver in you, and thanks to the wide adjustment ranges of steering and seats, an ideal seating position will support your talents even more.

The drivetrain is in tune with the Fiesta’s handling. The 140 HP 1 liter EcoBoost we drove in the Vignale and ST versions emits a pleasant throb when pushed harder, it is eager to rev and is mated to an excellent 6 speed manual gearbox, which allows you to flick trough the gears like a rally master. Performance is quite lively with a 0 to 100 acceleration time of merely 9 seconds, top speed being 201 km/h.

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But of course, you want to enjoy your Fiesta also when pottering around town or touring quietly. Here too, the new Fiesta feels quite at home with a docile, quiet and vibrationless engine, with also the extra sound deadening when compared to its predecessor resulting in a marked improvement. We wonder how the automatic gearbox behaves, and we are curious to lay our hands on one soon. Remember the competition is quite formidable in this respect, just think of VW’s DSG box, for instance, also to be found in Seat’s and Skoda’s. So a very good auto box also becomes a must in this class. The controls of the Fiesta are light, smooth and progressive, so the Fiesta truly effortless to drive. Female hands might not like so much the rather thick steering wheel rim, which we encountered in the tested Vignale and ST versions.

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On our test drive we concentrated on the more powerful 140 HP version of Ford’s stunning 1 liter three cylinder, bearing in mind that presently and in the future, petrol engines will be all the rage in this segment, and the actual sales figures already amply prove this. Let’s not forget, good economy is also to be had from these “green” engines. For this 140 HP version, CO2 emissions are 102 g/km and average consumption hovers around 4,5 liters/100 km. The 100 HP version does even better with 97 g and 4,3 l/100 km respectively. There is also a 125 HP version of the same engine. If you are not looking for exhilarating performance, it is good to know that there is a 1,1 liter petrol engine available with rather sedate 70 or 85 HP coupled to a five speed manual.

Last but not least, there is also the Titanium equipment version, we did not have the occasion to have a drive in it. We are anxious to drive one soon with a 1,5 liter diesel engine, available either in 85 or 120 HP version.

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Infotainment, driving aids and connectivity: the Fiesta sets further benchmarks…

In these departments, Ford leaves no stone unturned either. A family car needs to be safe, so Ford is throwing in emergency assistance and lane keep assist as standard equipment, with cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control included in the option list.

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The Applink feature which includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto keeps you entertained, also a “must” in this segment. We already mentioned the delightful B & O audio system.

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The presentation of the all new Fiesta was very personal, courtesy of the dynamic PR department of Ford Belgium… 

Conclusion

On our short and very scenic test drive over winding country roads, the Fiesta amply proved its handling qualities, notably its surefooted, comfortable chassis and refined, powerful drivetrain. Seating is excellent, one feels very much at home in the cabin, which has now a decidedly more premium character. Rear passengers also have slightly more (leg)room, 16 mm of it, and the Fiesta remains a very practical family car, with a unique panache when it comes to driving it. Sufficiently “green” and frugal, pleasantly styled both inside and out, it will again be found in many countries in the top of the charts, for many years to come…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

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