This is not the first time we’re meeting the new Fiesta, and after the initial first drive with the entire range, which you can read all about here, we’ve taken the time to spend a few days with one of the most interesting options – especially if you’re primarily a city dweller.
With a name that’s of merry connotations for southern Europeans, but universally recognized thanks to the Ford series – especially since it’s produced on a global scale, from Brazil to Thailand, South Africa and Europe – the Fiesta has been around since 1976 over the course of seven uninterrupted generations. You need to put this into perspective – the Fiesta premiered just one year after the VW Polo, another ubiquitous supermini (class B for Europeans), so heritage here is not an issue. The problem is over the course of the decades of its existence, the Fiesta has been fighting more and more competitors, especially in the war zone that is the Old Continent’s small car market. Ford’s answer to the plenitude of rivals with the seventh generation – deliver a Fiesta that’s up for everyone, from the base Trend (a model that’s going to do well with enterprises), the popular Titanium and introducing new variations such as the ST Line sporty derivative or the Active crossover-inspired more adventurous Fiesta. And let’s not forget the upscale Vignale, which might be hard to imagine how it’s going to be marketed given the price hike, but might be a stroke of genius for the automaker if we consider how many ladies are out there waiting for the premium B Class model they’ve been dreaming about.
With more than four decades of history behind it, the Fiesta surely has some big shoes to fill – especially given the longevity and success of the previous generation, regarded by many as one of the best-looking subcompact cars in history to the day. And Ford wants to fill them by delivering what they say it’s “the world’s most technologically advanced small car” – something we’ve actually experienced. Needless to say, they need an edge, with the main antagonist from Germany – the Polo – also rehashed with a completely new generation and other antagonists going down more adventurous paths (for example the Citroen C3, which is quirky and lovable, hitting the Fiesta in the successful ladies’ department). Ford did play this curved ball wide – the Trend is for business fleets, the Titanium is the general choice, the Active is for the adventurous, the Vignale is for the successful woman that likes to show for and the ST Line will most likely cater to the male side of the equation more than any other version.
Design, Interior and Gadgets
It’s interesting to note that on a design level, Ford has made the conscious choice of jumping from the base, Trend model to the stylish and high-spec Titanium trim level with nothing in between – though they did this with the numbers in front of them, given that Titanium Fiestas accounted for around half of the sales for the previous generation even in its last year of production before the generational switch. With more choices – Active, ST Line, Vignale – it’s interesting to see if the mix will remain, Ford doing what it can to make sure of that. From a design standpoint, the latest generation Fiesta is not a major departure from the previous one, adopting an evolutionary styling that paves way mostly for the conscious upscale choices. The front end has been streamlined, the side is a nod to the successful previous generation through and through while the back features one of the most obvious changes – gone is the high-mount vertical taillight design, replaced by a more contemporary placement and styling. Many have issues with the front end – which was a forte for the previous generation – but I sincerely miss out more the eccentric placement/design of the previous generation’s taillights. Overall, the exterior looks of the Fiesta have gone upscale, with the Fiesta Titanium naturally making use of ample chromed trim elements – for example the entire grille gets the treatment. The regular Fiesta also has a more distinctive personality compared to the previous generation given the vertical placement of the fog lights, whereas the Vignale and ST Line feature a classic horizontal arrangement.
Moving inside, everyone will immediately notice where the true revolution occurred – if the exterior doesn’t stray much from the personality of the previous generation, the cabin is a very welcomed complete departure. Most importantly, gone is the previous dashboard arrangement – the new Fiesta is among the most modern Fords out there, adopting the latest trends, including the “floating” infotainment touchscreen display design that’s becoming increasingly popular. For the driver the most welcomed change has to do with functionality – the myriad of buttons, knobs and switches of old have been trimmed down in half, an aspect clearly observable on the center stack. It’s among the most functional arrangements – Ford has left alone the controls for the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air condition) system (they are also new and streamlined, and quite intuitive) and everything related to infotainment happens on the touchscreen display and the few classic controls located immediately below. The company also comes up with a major change for the new steering wheel, which bundles the controls for the trip computer, the audio system/telephony and the cruise control/speed limiter. I do sense one will need to get accustomed to them because the audio controls have been separated – some are on the left and some on the right, so you’ll go looking for them during the first few uses. The front seats feature bolstered sides even with the Titanium, and the rear suffices for two adults or two children in their special seats. No chance three adults will fit in nicely, nor there is any option to get the grandma/nanny back there if you have two small children. But for a young family with just one child, or for city dwellers, the Fiesta does represent a good choice in terms of interior space, especially given the 60/40 back seat that can be used to take up more luggage when needed. Speaking of, the boot is good for 303 liters and up to 984 liters with the backseat folded.
Now onto the technological side, which is quite comprehensive – as Ford wanted to point out. By the way, while the tested model (1.0 EcoBoost, Titanium, automatic transmission) is already pretty expensive on its own (over 17.000 euro, depending on the market), some of the features will naturally be optional and if you want all the capabilities you’ll need to shell out in excess of 20k. Standard perks from the Titanium trim do include the safety package (airbags, ESP, HLA, ABS, EBD, EBA), LED daylight running lights and taillights, interior ambient light and from the get go the Sync III infotainment system with a 6.5 inch display. From then on, you can add packs or select individual options according to needs and come up with a technological marvel that would have been unthinkable in the segment just a few years back. Let’s just name a few – the more important ones. The driver assistance features for starters, have sensors (two cameras, three radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors) that can monitor what’s going on up to 130 meters ahead, the Fiesta being available with a new generation of the Pedestrian Detection system that will also work when you might need it most, at night. The Ford Active Park Assist system now can actively hit the brakes in order to avoid low-speed impacts, and you can also go almost “mind-free” on the highway thanks to the adaptive cruise control and the lane keep assist system. There are also luxury comfort features – for example the traffic sign recognition feature or the auto high beam, and the Fiesta will even save you from a stressful back out of parking situation via the segment first Cross Traffic Alert. Aside from the Sync III infotainment system, which can be had with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SYNC AppLink for voice-activation of smartphone apps such as Glympse, Aupeo, Spotify, MyBoxMan, HearMeOut or AccuWeather, also new on the Fiesta is the B&O PLAY Sound System. It’s an exclusive perk of the Ford lineup, meaning the automaker and the sound specialists over at Bang& Olufsen have worked out bespoke calibration for each model in the range. And yes, with this review taking place during winter, one will truly appreciate the comfort of not only having a heated seat, but also a heated steering wheel and windshield.
Engine, Transmission and Handling
The reviewed Fiesta has been equipped with Ford’s International Engine of Year Award winning one-liter three-cylinder petrol engine, a powerplant that has exceeded expectations on more than one occasion since its inception (which is probably why it’s winning its own category each and every year). While Ford has been bolstering the gains of the turbo use over naturally aspirated engines of higher displacement, after years of production and refinement, my own view is this is among the best small displacement engines ever. With 100 horsepower under the belt it’s not even the most powerful iteration available in the new Fiesta (125 horsepower is next, and depending on the market there is the 140 hp version as well), but it’s an engine that’s quieter and runs smoother than four-cylinder equivalent powerplants. We can certainly attribute that – especially the quiet part – to the enhancements in terms of NVH (noise, vibrations, harshness) made for the new generation, which are on par with compact models, for example the Focus, now. At highway speeds, the most notable noise comes from the aerodynamics, not even the winter tires… But that’s a trait that’s attributable to Ford models in general and those of the recent generations in particular – we might remember how the soon to be replaced Focus generation awed and amazed in this department at launch as well. Now it’s something one would expect from Ford, but kudos to the Fiesta developers for achieving that in a small car, which inherently has less space to insulate.
The one-liter engine with its 100 hp won’t break any performance records, especially when coupled with the six-speed automatic transmission. Even though the latter features a sport program and comes nicely equipped with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, it will need more than 12 seconds to 62 mph (100 kph) and top out at 180 kph. The average fuel economy – an official 5.2 liters per 100 km is not something you’ll achieve, even with the start/stop system able to function below zero degrees Celsius. It’s a rather heavy generation – starting at more than 1200 kgs in this version, not counting the additional weight of the aforementioned technological features. And we’re dealing with an automatic version, a classic one, so no economy wonders to be sought here. On the other hand, for owners spending most of the time in the city, this gearbox choice will do wonders to your state of mind and comfort after encountering the now traditional traffic bottleneck. Also, with the ST Line now as a separate version, the Titanium is left catering to those seeking comfort with the everyday ride in the Fiesta – the suspension setup absorbs well and without hiccups bumps and dents, while keeping a safe and stable stance overall. But don’t mistake the Fiesta for the ST, even if engineers reworked the chassis giving it an additional 30 mm at the front track and 10 mm at the rear, while the wheelbase has surged by 4 mm. It’s a comfortable, safe ride that will take you places fast if need be, but without feeling ready to rock – even as the Fiesta now has Electronic Torque Vectoring Control, a system designed to enhance the driving experience by applying the brakes to the inside wheels when cornering. Overall, the driving experience inside the new Fiesta remains fun, but the new generation filters out not only noise, vibrations and bumps in the road, but also some of the elements that made the drive more enjoyable – such as an incisive steering. More so, with the auto, if you you’re in a hurry better use the sport mode or the paddle shifters – the standard setting is relaxed and totally geared towards comfort.