Ford is swimming in dubious waters when it claims that the Fiesta which went on sale in the UK recently is ‘all-new’. In fact it’s very similar to the one you could have bought – and may indeed actually have bought – at the beginning of 2017. It does look different, though, since Ford has reversed a previous policy of jazzing up the Fiesta by making this one look considerably less dramatic.
Some things remain the same. As before, there’s far less rear passenger space than you’ll find in several of the car’s Far Eastern rivals, luggage capacity with the back seats down remains at a competitive if not eyebrow-raising 292 litres and it’s very difficult to see where you’re going when you’re trying to reverse, though in fairness the reversing camera gives a much better view than you get in some much more expensive cars.
On this Zetec version, and in fact on any Fiesta other than the entry-level Style, there’s a 6.5″ central touchscreen. It’s a lot better than the fiddly little thing available previously, but in the bizarre current fashion which some manufacturers have been sticking to for several years it stands proud of the dash, which makes it look like you could snap it off if you were sufficiently determined.
As with most of today’s tablet-style devices, I’m not sure it’s much of an advance over the older method. Changing radio stations requires more attention than it would if you could use buttons instead (surely not a helpful contribution to road safety?) and, unless you have a superhumanly steady hand, can’t necessarily be done accurately all the time.
Case in point: at one stage I found myself listening briefly to the BBC Asian Network. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but what I really wanted was Radio 4 Extra.
The 100PS (or 98bhp) one-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is, in my view, no longer as far ahead of the opposition as it once was. I don’t see that Suzuki, Vauxhall or the Volkswagen Group, to name the first three that came to mind arranged in alphabetical order, are doing a worse job.
Still, it’s a nice enough unit, paired in this case with the Powershift automatic gearbox which, oddly enough, moves from one ratio to the next far more smoothly when you’re accelerating hard than when you’re out for a gentle potter. In a non-sporting Fiesta, shouldn’t it be the other way round?
Convenient as it is, the Powershift adds £1350 to the list price, slows the car down and knocks 11.6mpg off the combined fuel economy figure, bringing it to 54.3mpg. According to the trip computer I averaged around 42mpg in bad weather and nearer 47 in more favourable conditions.
One thing I’ve noticed about three-cylinder Fiestas in the past is that they neither ride or handle anything like as well as you might expect. They always seem to be unsure of themselves, as if nobody though to adjust the suspension to take into account the lower nose weight. This one didn’t feel quite so unbalanced, but that may be because the Powershift box is heavier than the manual.
In any case, this is not, by Fiesta standards, an enjoyable car to drive. Ford says it has revised the suspension thoroughly, and the Zetec trim level includes 15″ wheels with what look like sensibly profiled tyres. That should be good news, but in fact the test car wasn’t particularly enthusiastic on country roads, was less comfortable on a stretch of the M5 than a Nissan Micra I drove on the same day and dealt poorly with small bumps in the road. It was almost as if I’d been given an early prototype by mistake, though I have no reason to believe this was the case.
Altogether, this was one of the least satisfying Fiestas I’ve driven for some time. I can only hope that it was a particularly unfortunate example, and that there are greater delights to be found elsewhere in the range.
Engine size 999cc
Top speed 111mph
0-62mph 12.2 seconds
Fuel economy 54.3mpg combined
CO2 emissions 118g/km
Towing capacity 1000kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2012) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 91% Child occupant 86% Pedestrian 65% Safety assist 71%
Information correct at publication date