It hasn’t lost its fun appeal!
Madrid, Spain – It was 40 years ago that we saw the first Ford Fiesta introduced. It has certainly changed over the years and even more so in the more recent years. The Fiesta has not only become one of the best looking cars in its segment, but also one of the most fun to drive. It is also the top selling car in Europe. It was only fitting that we get whisked off to Madrid, Spain to test drive the seventh-generation Fiesta!
As mentioned, it is one good looking fella! And so, the exterior changes are not exactly dramatic, they don’t need to be. Inside, however, is where things really start to get interesting. The cabin is more sophisticated and where the previous Fiesta loved a button, this generation has lost almost half of those buttons creating a far more streamlined and simple design. The multi-function steering wheel has also lost a few buttons. My only criticism is that some of the materials feel under par. If you look closely enough you will notice some rather cheap plastics, but overall, I felt the cabin to be more than comfortable and of good quality. I am going to come back to the interior later as there is so much tech squashed in to these new Fiesta’s that it warrants its very own paragraph.
But first let me mention the line-up, South Africa can expect the Trend and Titanium trim levels only. The Trend will only be available with the 1,5 Tdci engine and will be mated to a manual transmission only. The 1,0 EcoBoost, however, will be available as both Trend and Titanium and comes with either the 6-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission. Further details and pricing will be available closer to the local launch which is expected before June 2018.
We got to drive the 1,0 EcoBoost 92 kW and 1.5 Tdci models in Spain and the 1,0 EcoBoost still remains a firm favourite of mine. There is more than enough power on tap and the six-speed manual gearbox is smooth shifting and just easy to manoeuvre…even when using my right hand (I may or may not have driven on the wrong side of the road a few times…it takes practice people!).
We got to experience the Vignale models which unfortunately we won’t see in South Africa at this time, but the Titanium is not far off the standard spec available in this model. Here begins my paragraph on the tech you can expect from the new Fiesta…let your mind be blown! This Fiesta is the first Ford to deliver an enhanced version of Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection as well as Active Park Assist with Perpendicular Parking. And for the first time, the Fiesta can apply the brakes if a driver does not respond to system guidance and proximity warnings while moving forward or reversing. Park-Out Assist which helps you get out of a parking is also available. But wait, there’s more! Traffic sign recognition and Auto High Beam are also an option. The new Fiesta offers 15 driver assist technologies which include Adaptive Cruise Control, Adjustable Speed Limiter, Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, Distance indication, Driver Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, and forward collision warning. Although it is not clear yet which of these technologies will be available in South Africa it is suspected to be most of them.
For the first time, you can opt for a B&O sound system and interesting to note, Ford engineers spent a year listening to 5 000 tracks to ensure the best quality when enjoying “Adele, Foo Fighters or Jay Z.” Another fun fact, Ford used “robotic buttocks” to sit on the seats 25 000 times to prove their durability. Talk about commitment!
I am bit sad that we will not be seeing the all new Fiesta Active or Fiesta ST-Line in South Africa (well not at this point). The Active is Ford’s answer to the Volkswagen CrossPolo and has that SUV-inspired look and raised ride-height, roof bars and extra cladding. The ST-Line is for those who perhaps can’t afford the sporty ST but want that look and feel, although, I am not sure how the sales of this trim would fair in South Africa.
So, is the new Fiesta still as fun to drive? Definitely! It just feels more grown up now and one can quite easily forget that you are in fact in a small car, it has that big car feel about it. The ride is smooth, the cabin is spacious and comfortable and the amount of tech available ensures you are left wanting nothing. Never would I end with a quote from the manufacturer, but I feel that vice president, of product development for Ford Europe, Joe Bakal, sums the new Ford Fiesta up perfectly. “A fun driving experience is central to the Fiesta’s appeal, and our all-new Fiesta remains true to the character that has delighted generations of drivers, with the sharpest, sportiest and most balanced performance yet. Offering more style, more refinement, more technology, and more fun, Europe’s favourite small car is more Fiesta than ever.”