$15,825 – $22,525
Good: Fantastic styling; class leading handling, sharp steering; super frugal ECOnetic grade.
Not so Good: Interior finish is one notch below the class best; steering did adjust for rake and reach but now only rake (mid life facelift change).
Design and Engineering
Good : Launched in Australia in January 2009, the current generation Ford Fiesta is a fantastically designed, truly modern supermini. Under the fancy sheet-metal the baby Ford shares much of its platform and underpinnings with the Mazda 2 (a great place to start), yet there’s no mistaking it’s the Fiesta that wears the more ‘WOW’ factor styling.
The environmentally friendly ECOnetic grade followed in December 2009 and thanks to a range of engineering tweaks (including intelligent weight savings, low rolling-resistance tyres, a lower ride height and aerodynamic tweaks including air-deflecting hupcabs!) and a 1.6L turbo diesel engine with taller gear ratios it boasts a Toyota Prius beating official combined fuel economy figure of only 3.7L per 100kms.
The mid-life facelift arrived earlier than expected (October 2010).
Not so good : The Fiesta’s petrol engine misses out on new technology specs such as direction injection and turbo charging (however this technology is still uncommon in this price led segment, so Ford is by no means lagging behind the competition).
Interior and Styling
Good : The funky styling continues inside. We like the mobile-phone inspired audio and connectivity controls with an easy to read central information screen, the decent sized glovebox, the storage compartment between the front seats with clever segments and cuppy holes and the generous amount of space for two occupants up front.
Comfortable and supportive driver’s seat and all grades feature steering wheel mounted controls. The boot is reasonably sized.
Not so good : Whilst the interior is above class average, the Fiesta cannot match the premium feel of the Volkswagen Polo as there are too many different textures and colours fighting for your attention. The rear seats offer less space than a number of more roomy supermini’s and the rear seat-back unfortunately has not been trimmed in carpet with the metal exposed. That aside the boot is well trimmed.
From October 2010 (when the facelift arrived), the previous soft-touch plastics on the upper dash have been replaced with a cheaper, hard-touch plastic that reduces the overall perceived cabin quality. The steering wheel now only adjusts for rake (up and down), previously it also featured reach (in and out) adjustment.
Good : The Fiesta is available in either petrol or diesel power. From October 2010, the 1.6L petrol produces a healthy 89kW of power and 151Nm of torque when linked to either a five-speed manual gearbox or the new six-speed dual-clutch sequential (fancy automatic) transmission. With the manual box the Fiesta is one of the perkiest players in the Supermini segment.
Whilst happy to cruise in traffic at low revs it’s at higher revs (even above 6000 revs) where it comes to life – offering real zest and bringing a smile to every one of our testers.
A 1.6L turbo diesel is fitted to the ECOnetic grade, offering 66kW of power and a very healthy 200Nm of torque. Even with the tall gear ratios (which helps achieve the amazing economy) the ECOnetic produces sufficient acceleration. It is also a surprisingly quiet engine, both when idling at the lights and at highway speeds. The maximum torque figure is achieved at a low 1,750 revs so it pulls easily off the lights even with four adults aboard.
From October 2010, Ford also offers this diesel engine in less expensive LX and Zetec grades.
Not so good : The five-speed manual gearbox is easy to use but is less enjoyable to shift than our favourite manual gearboxes. The 1.6L petrol engine can get a little noisy at highway speeds.
Ride and Handling
Good : Against the competition the Fiesta’s ride and handling is number one. The chassis is superbly tuned, it sits nice and flat when cornering and the steering is sharp and feelsome. Equally enjoyable to drive in the urban grind or along a twisting backroad. The Fiesta also rides comfortably over most surfaces.
Not so good : Not much at all. The ride is a touch firmer than most Supermini’s, but apart from the rare thump over sharp corrugations and the occasional steering kickback on rough roads the Fiesta holds its head very high.
Buying and Owning
Good : Ticks the safety box with Electronic Stability Control standard across the range. All grades are generously equipped with the entry level CL grade coming standard with air-conditioning, remote central locking, a CD player and six speakers and Bluetooth connectivity with voice control.
The ECOnetic grade’s fuel economy beats the hybrid Toyota Prius and the MINI Cooper Diesel yet is priced way, way less than either of these ‘green’ competitors.
Not so good : The three diesel grades are only available with a manual transmission, so if you’re after super-frugal motoring but don’t wish to change gears yourself…