Ford Fiesta


Debut: 2017
Maker: Ford
Predecessor: Fiesta (2008)



 Published on 2 Aug 2017 All rights reserved. 


Replacing a long-time winner is always difficult, but Ford has managed to do that with the new Fiesta.


Since 2008, Ford Fiesta has been our favourite B-segment small car. It might not be the most practical or the best built – those should be Honda Fit/Jazz and VW Polo respectively – but it is definitely the most fun to drive. Its sharp handling, well-balanced chassis, keen steering and supple ride make it the best companion to keen drivers. It also looks handsome and, from 2013, offers the industry’s best 3-cylinder engine, i.e. Ford’s 1.0 Ecoboost. Meanwhile, its hot version ST and ST200 consistently topped our A/B-segment hot hatch chart. In a nutshell, the outgoing Fiesta was a great car. No wonder it lived for nearly 9 years. Up until its retirement, it was still Ford’s best-selling car in Europe, and the 3rd place in the overall European sales chart, just behind VW Golf and Polo. That was an incredible achievement for a car so old.

As the car has been so important to Ford Europe, the new generation Fiesta carries a lot of expectation. It has to extend that lead in the class and carry over the sales momentum. It has to respond to the requirements for reducing emission and the demand for higher build quality and more comfort. It also needs to take care of buyers who might be looking to small crossovers, especially when Ford Ecosport is not performing very well. Most important to us, however, is that it must not let us down in terms of ride and handling. So many modern cars sacrifice driving fun in the name of “maturity”. Renault Clio IV is an unfortunate example. While comfort and refinement sell, it is driving excitement that wins headlines in motoring publications and new media. Any backward step, even a small one, could damage the reputation of a respected label. Thankfully, the new generation Fiesta does not disappoint.



Unlike rivals, Ford has retained the choice of 3-door body, which is good because it has always been more stylish.


Obviously, Ford is keen to keep the successful formula of the outgoing Fiesta. The new car looks so familiar that you might confuse it with a heavy facelift. Its sharp profile is kept. Ditto the Aston-Martin nose – something inherited from the era when Aston was still part of the Ford group. The biggest change is a wider tailgate, which necessitates the taillights to be changed from vertically to horizontally mounted and half-split by the tailgate. This is designed to ease luggage loading, of course. Unlike Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza and the new Volkswagen Polo, Ford has retained the choice of 3-door body alongside the more popular 5-door, which is good because 3-door has always been more stylish (and a tad lighter). The new Fiesta also offers more styling variants than any of its rivals. There are 5 distinctly looking trims: Zetec (regular), Titanium (smart), Vignale (luxury), ST-Line (sporty) and Active (high-riding crossover), each with different nose treatment and other cosmetic deviations. Hopefully they will widen the market presence and earn more cash.

The new car is about 70mm longer than before, but most of that is spent to the longer front overhang. It is just 13mm wider and a tad lower. Its wheelbase is stretched by merely 4mm, yet that is purely the result of revising rear suspension geometry rather than altering hard points. At 2493mm, its wheelbase is shorter than pretty much all rivals now (with the exception of Suzuki Swift, which is a much cheaper car then). The new Ibiza and Polo, its strongest rivals, both run a wheelbase of 2564mm. They are considerably wider than the Fiesta, too. Naturally, this reflects in the interior. The Fiesta’s cabin doesn’t feel as spacious as those Volkswagen group twins. While the front is still spacious enough for anyone, the rear seats are tight for regular-size adults and more suitable to children, even though Ford claims that thinner seats free up 16mm rear legroom compared with the old car. It is not quite a true 4-seater, although that is not a sin for this class.



The interior looks more tasteful, ergonomics greatly improved, but perception of quality still fails to match the VW group cars...


However, the cabin’s layout, technology and quality are all noticeably improved. The Nokia-style array of buttons on center console has finally given place to a new-age iPad touchscreen and the sleek-operating Ford Sync3 system. Not only the interior looks more tasteful and less busy, but ergonomics is greatly improved. The driving position is excellent, with plenty of adjustment. More soft-touch plastics are used on the dash, but the door panels and grab handles are hard, scratchy and hollow, so the perception of quality fails to match the new Volkswagen Polo, or even Seat Ibiza.

The car is built on an updated version of the existing Global B-platform, which underpins also the B-Max and KA+. It is an old dog, but this dog does play tricks that its rivals don’t, so we should not be disappointed. Moreover, the chassis is now constructed out of more high and ultra-high-strength steel, using more laser welding and a stiffer front subframe. The result is a 15-percent bump in torsional rigidity. Meanwhile, the car’s slightly more slippery shape lowers drag coefficient to 0.29. Both factors reduce NVH and boost running refinement. Handling is improved by using wider tracks (+30mm up front and +10mm at the rear), stiffer front anti-roll bar and a new electric power steering whose friction is reduced by 20 percent. ST-Line uses stiffer springs and dampers and has its ride height lowered by 10mm, while Active is jacked up by 18mm. All cars feature rear disc brakes, finally.



The Global B-platform is an old dog, but this dog does play tricks that its rivals don’t...


In the engine bay, the award-winning 1.0-liter Ecoboost 3-cylinder direct-injection turbo now consists of 3 states of tune: 100hp, 125 hp and 140 hp. In particular, the 100 hp version is now available with cylinder cut-off technology, which shuts down one of the cylinders at lighter loads to save fuel. To counter the resultant vibration, it needs to have the engine strengthened, upgrade its vibration-dampening clutch and counter-balancing flywheel to suit. Fuel consumption can be reduced by 6 percent in European cycle as a result. Meanwhile, the 140 hp engine feels quite punchy at the top end, taking 8.5 seconds to go from 0-60, which is the territory of warm hatches. No matter which version, the 1.0 Ecoboost engine is smooth, flexible and eager to rev, which is a remarkable achievement especially considering its lack of balance shaft. Compared with Volkswagen’s 1.0 TSI engine, it is quieter and sweeter revving. The 3-cylinder thrum is characterful but it is generally muted most of the time on road, thanks partly to the use of a 6-speed manual gearbox. The latter's gearshift is slick, swift and precise, whereas ratios are well spread, not overly biased towards cruising economy. This powertrain combo brings a lot of fun.

At the lower end, there is a newly developed naturally aspirated, 1.1-liter version of the triple. It employs Ti-VCT (twin-VVT) but no direct injection to keep cost down. It produces either 70 hp or 85 hp, the latter is more powerful than both Volkswagen 1.0 (75 hp) and PSA 1.2 Puretech (82 hp). That said, as long as you can afford, the Ecoboost is always the irresistible choice. Likewise, 1.5 TDCi diesel lives under the shadow of 1.0 Ecoboost.



The suspension absorbs the impact of bumps, pot holes and everything brilliantly...


Once again, the Fiesta excels in the twisty. Its chassis feels agile and well-balanced like no others in the class. It offers good front-end grip to resist understeer. Although lift-off oversteer is generally out of scope for the cooking version (which should return on the high-performance ST, hopefully), the Fiesta’s precise, well-weighted controls – no matter steering, brakes, throttle or gearshift – are the best companions to keen drivers, making it the most fun-to-drive supermini again. The steering is lighter than before, but it is accurate, progressive and offers just enough feedback to shame most other rivals’ electric racks. Although it is not yet a hot hatch, its body roll is well contained, especially the ST-Line with stiffer suspension. Most impressive, this does not come at the expense of ride comfort. In fact, the Fiesta’s suspension absorbs the impact of bumps, pot holes and everything brilliantly, resulting in a fluidity and quietness so far none in the class could match. The cabin is well isolated from the outside world. Such a combination of great control and suppleness is beyond the reach of Seat Ibiza, currently its strongest competitor.

I suspect the new VW Polo could challenge the Fiesta for quietness, but it is unlikely to threaten the Ford in driving excitement and ride composure. Yes, the Fiesta might not have the most modern packaging or a build quality as good as the VW group cars, but when the driving experience is taken into account, it is still the best car in the segment.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Fiesta 5dr 1.1 Ti-VCT
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4040 / 1735 / 1476 mm
2493 mm
Inline-3
1084 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT
-
-
85 hp
81 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion beam
-
195/60R15
1060 kg
105 mph (c)
13 (est)
-
Fiesta 5dr 1.0 Ecoboost 100hp
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4065 / 1735 / 1466 mm
2493 mm
Inline-3
999 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI, cylinder deactivation
100 hp
125 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion beam
-
195/55R16
1088 kg
113 mph (c)
9.9 (c)
-
Fiesta 5dr 1.0 Ecoboost 140hp
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4065 / 1735 / 1466 mm
2493 mm
Inline-3
999 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
140 hp
133 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion beam
-
205/45R17
1089 kg
125 mph (c)
8.5 (c)
-




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