Ford Fiesta upwardly mobile along with debut dose of new technology
When you’re reinventing Britain’s best-seller, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. Motoring editor Andy Russell checks out if the latest, all-new Ford supermini has that much-loved ‘Fiesta-ness’.
Redesigning Britain’s best-selling car, the iconic Ford Fiesta supermini, must be daunting – honing it without losing that ‘Fiesta-ness’, as Ford calls, which customers love.
Now in its seventh generation, with 40 years of heritage, the all-new Fiesta offers models is also moving upmarket – higher-specification Fords account for 65pc of sales – with a new range-topping Vignale flagship and, next year, an Active crossover version.
Looks and image
Over four decades, Fiesta has gone from little runabout to small family car and the new model is slightly longer and wider.
The design has evolved to be more contemporary – not the big step change when the previous generation gained that wide, Ford family grille – here the back end’s new horizontal rear lights, emphasising the width, stand out.
Under the bonnet
Entry engines are 70 and 85PS, 1.1-litre, three-cylinder units while there are new 85 and 120PS 1.5-litre turbo diesels but the excellent 100, 125 and 140PS 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol EcoBoost engines will take a big chunk of sales.
Even the entry unit is a little cracker with flexible, low-down pull, revving freely and cruising quietly at motorway speeds. Driven enthusiastically, aided by a delightfully slick six-speed manual gearbox – the 100PS engine can also be had with automatic transmission, it returned 45 to 50mpg.
How it drives
The new Fiesta was designed to be even more fun to drive with by widening the track, stiffening the body and chassis, new suspension to reduce roll and improving braking and grip.
It’s still the most dynamic supermini, with taut handling and excellent steering feel but the firmish ride on my Titanium test car was not helped by bigger, optional 17in wheels, which also created noticeable tyre noise.
Space and comfort
There’s 16mm more kneeroom in the back with sufficient leg and headroom for four adults and it’s extremely comfortable with soft, supportive seating.
The deep, flat-sided boot is a couple of litres bigger than the previous model at 292 litres, rising to a maximum 1,093 litres – a useful improvement over the old model’s 974 litres. Unfortunately the 60/40 split rear seat backs don’t lay totally flat and step up from the boot floor without the optional height-adjustable panel that also cuts down the high lip.
At the wheel
The biggest styling changes are inside. Higher-spec models get a floating eight-inch, tablet-inspired touchscreen on top of the fascia to control most functions, nearly halving the number of buttons on the centre console but regularly-used heating and ventilation controls remain rotary knobs and buttons.
The highly-adjustable driving position is ideal for short and tall drivers but chunky rear pillars restrict rear visibility so I was glad of the £500 optional pack of front and rear sensors, rear-view camera and advanced auto park assistance.
Despite moving the Fiesta upmarket, hard plastic trim is still very much in evidence but at least it looks better than it feels.
Technology and equipment
Ford calls the new Fiesta the most technologically-advanced small car in Europe with 15 driver assistance features, many on Fiesta for the first time. They include enhanced pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, even at night, and hands-free nose-to-tail and side-by-side parking, getting you in and out of the space and even braking if the driver is distracted.
Most are options but the lane-keeping system is standard across the range.
The latest SYNC3 communications and entertainment system uses simple voice commands to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones while the new B&O Play sound system debuts with 10 speakers, 675 watts and a digital signal processing amplifier.
The Fiesta is still the supermini to beat and, with this new model debuting new technologies, it emphasises how important this trend-setting little car is to Ford.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Ford Fiesta Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost £17,045 (range from £12,715)
Engine: 998cc, 100PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol with six speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 10.5 seconds; top speed 113mph
MPG: Urban 52.3; extra urban 78.5; combined 65.7
CO2 emissions: 97g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 18pc
Insurance group: 10 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,040mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,941mm; H 1,476mm