The all new Ford Fiesta is here! As direct competition to the new VW Polo, does the Ford evergreen retain the fun factor needed to compete?
Ford is all set to square up against VW’s new Polo, the new Toyota Yaris and the new Nissan Micra this year. That takes some guts. But does the new Ford Fiesta have what it takes to oust the competition? The Polo is the best-selling vehicle in South Africa – what can the Fiesta offer to sway consumers?The Fiesta is Ford’s evergreen – it’s been around for just over four decades. The car has certainly changed a lot over the years. The modern versions are practically spaceships compared to the original 1976 model.Some of the renditions over the last couple of years have been good-looking hatchbacks, and pretty fun to drive too. The term used to describe them best might have been nippy – they felt a lot faster than they actually were.Enthusiastic, might be another description.South Africa doesn’t quite share that enthusiasm, though, and we still favour our VWs and Toyotas. Over in Europe, it’s pretty much the same story, but the Fiesta is nipping at the Polo’s heels. In the UK – the Fiesta is number one.The seventh generation has just landed in South Africa. Is it any good?
The New Ford Fiesta
The new Fiesta has received a bit of a facelift – and it’s not a bad looking car at all. The body structure is stiffer, the suspension has been improved and the materials used are, apparently, of a higher class. Ford also states that the chassis has been reworked, offering better control and improved grip.Now, when we talk about what’s beneath the hood, we have to begin by saying that the new Fiesta range has been trimmed – quite radically. Naturally aspirated engines, which have been popular, are out. So, we won’t be seeing the likes of the super-affordable Ambiente in the lineup. We’ll probably see the Ford Figo fill this gap in the market.The esteemed 1.0 litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine is still there, mercifully. So, you can expect no-nonsense performance and good efficiency. And then, there is also a 1.5 turbo-diesel option.The Titanium and Trend will both offer automatic and manual transmissions with six forward speeds. The manual Titanium is the more powerful option – producing a peak output of 92 kW and 170 Nm of torque. The automatic Titanium – and both derivatives of the Trend – will deliver the same amount of torque, but a slightly lower 74 kW.The 1.5 litre turbo-diesel option will only be available with manual transmission, delivering 63 kW and 175 Nm of torque. So, if fuel efficiency is what you’re really after, then the turbo-diesel is the best option.On the matter of safety – Ford has improved. The structure is stronger all round, able to absorb impact more efficiently. You’ve got front and side airbags, ABS braking with electronic brake assist, hill launch assist and traction control.The interior, though, is where it gets a little more interesting.
Many other car manufacturers offer a ton of nifty features – but they’re all optional and cost extra. The Fiesta is packed to capacity – as standard. This is a really important statement to make in this segment of the market, and it will certainly be in the Fiesta’s favour.The new-look, trimmed down cabin offers an improved infotainment system. It’s the same SYNC3 setup found in the Ford Everest, Kuga or Ranger. The system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to make hands-free communication a breeze, but also integrates Google Maps and allows for the use of other apps.The focal point of the system is to incorporate all the functions formerly operated via the thousands and thousands of buttons all over the place. The new Fiesta has done away with most of them, giving the cabin a cleaner look and feel.The Titanium comes with an impressive 8-inch screen while the Trend gets a smaller 6.5-inch. Both have a pair of USB ports. The Titanium also offers heated seats.
Is It Any Good?
The new Fiesta benefits from the improved suspension, impressive EcoBoost engine, smooth gearbox and refined handling. There is also an option to put the car into Sport and control the gears via the paddles mounted to the steering-wheel.Some attentive shifting will take you from 0 to 100 in about 9.4 seconds, with a top speed of 196km/h.The engine noise is minimal, but that doesn’t take much away from the punch it packs. The seventh generation hasn’t lost any of the funfactor which made previous instalments so popular. There’s much to be said for the tech, safety and comfort that many modern vehicles now offer. But, if it isn’t fun to drive, what’s the point?The cabin is streamlined and sophisticated, but some criticism has been levelled at the feel of the materials used. Much of it, such as the door handles, looks like cheap plastic.Otherwise, the new Fiesta is pretty impressive and it may be easy to forget that you’re in a small little hatchback.
As of May 2018, pricing on the Titanium and Trend models are a little above what most people expected:
1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT (R261 900)
1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT (R277 300)
1.5 TDCi Trend 6MT (R292 500)
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT (R295 900)
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT (R310 600)
Bear in mind that for these prices, you get all the bells and whistles as standard, whereas you would have to fork out even more for them with other cars.Also, all new Fiesta derivatives come standard with FordProtect. This comprises of:
4 year / 120 000km warranty;
3 year / unlimited distance roadside assistance;
5 year / unlimited distance corrosion warranty, and;
A 4 year / 60 000km service plan, with service intervals at 15 000 km.
It’s sad that we won’t be getting the new Fiesta Active or the Fiesta ST-Line in South Africa – at least not yet. All we’re getting is the Trend and the Titanium – but they’re enough to appease the South African Ford fanatics, and maybe even win over a couple of new fans.