The Ford Fiesta has come of age. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the much improved seventh generation version.
Ford's Fiesta has always been affordable and great to drive. But state of the art? It's that too in this all-new seventh generation form. Beneath the smarter styling lies some clever user-friendly technology - and cabin quality that'll make down-sizing into one of these less of a chore. This is how you right a best seller.
This Fiesta may still be a small car but these days, it thinks big in almost every way, starting with styling designed to make more of a statement in the supermini segment. Under the bonnet lies an impressively clean and frugal range of petrol and diesel units. Plus there's a more up-market cabin, safety technology that can automatically brake the car for you even at night and a pokier diesel engine option. Ford has also broadened the appeal of the range with an 'Active' Crossover bodystyle, plus variants more specifically aimed at customers wanting luxury and sportiness. And as well as all that, the brand reckon that it'll be even more fun to drive than its predecessor. This is, in short, on paper at least, a thoroughly well thought out piece of supermini design. But will it be enough to keep Ford at the top of the sales charts? Let's find out.
Variations on the Fiesta theme may come and go but before driving any version of Ford's definitive supermini, there's one thing you almost always know for certain: that it'll be a great steer. This new generation model is 15% stiffer and both front and rear track measurements are wider. The engineers tell us that the chassis now offers 10% more cornering grip, supported by Electronic Torque Vectoring Control, which enhances the driving experience by applying a small amount of braking to inside wheels to assist traction and stability when cornering. Braking distances at 62mph are reduced by more than 8%. There are freshly developed five and six-speed manual gearboxes. And rear disc brakes feature on models with engines developing more than 100PS. Ah yes, engines: you'll want to know about those. The three cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit is carried over, here offered in 110, 125 and 140PS guises. Sharing this poweplant architecture is a lesser 1.1-litre normally aspirated unit, available at the foot of the range in 70 and 85PS guises. The 1.5-litre TDCi 85PS diesel unit is familiar from before too, but this time round, this powerplant is also being offered in a pokier 120PS guise.
If you go by the maxim that if something looks right, it is right, then you'll probably like the look of this seventh generation Fiesta. As before, it's offered in both three and five-door bodystyles and both are tidy pieces of styling with evolutionary styling and a bolder, wider front grille. The side profile is more settled and less wedge-shaped, combining with 71mm of additional body length and 12mm of additional width to give what Ford hopes is a longer and more premium appearance. Inside, it's completely different from what went before. Gone is the previous button-heavy fascia with its cheap plastics. In fact, the number of buttons on the centre console has been reduced by almost half, with many connectivity and entertainment controls relocated to a freshly developed 'SYNC3' 8-inch touchscreen. A semi-translucent piano black insert stretches all the way from the instrument binnacle to the centre console, giving the cabin a touch of class. Rear seat passengers benefit from 16mm more knee room, supported by new slim-back seats that are softer, and offer greater side-to-side support. This Fiesta's tailgate is wider for easier access to the boot, and improved storage for personal belongings is delivered with a 20% larger glovebox and a 1-litre media bin in the centre console.
As before, there's a choice of either three or five-door bodystyles. Expect Mk7 model Fiesta pricing to start at around £13,000 for entry-level 'Style' models, but most private customers will buy in at the mid-range 'Zetec' level that starts at just under £15,000. Beyond that, there are 'Titanium', 'Titanium X', 'ST-Line', 'ST-Line X' and 'Vignale' specification options. Plus 'Zetec' and 'Titanium' models can be ordered with a 'B&O Play' audio system upgrade. And of course, you can talk to your dealer about the sporty 'ST' version and the Fiesta 'Active' variant that offers SUV styling cues that target the growing Crossover market. Whatever your choice, you'll be offered some up-scale equipment options, examples including an openable panoramic glass roof. There's sophisticated safety too, including a Pedestrian Detection system that can even prevent collisions at night. And 'Active Park Assist' with brake interventions to prevent low-speed collisions when parking hands-free. As for standard equipment, even base models get features like air conditioning, Bluetooth, an 'Emergency Assistance' system and a 6-speaker stereo.
The Ford Fiesta has garnered a reputation for being one of the cheapest superminis to run and this continues. In fact what's remarkable about this improved range is how so many models go below 100g/km. It's now the exception where you find a variant in this line-up that puts out more than the ton. Take the new 120PS 1.5-litre TDCi engine which returns a CO2 emissions figure of 89g/km - or 82g/km in 95PS form. That's down to optimised combustion chamber design, turbocharging - including variable geometry technology for the 120PS version - and sophisticated fuel injection that also enhances refinement. Smart Regenerative Charging enhances fuel efficiency by selectively engaging the alternator and charging the battery when the vehicle is coasting and braking. Ford's 1.1-litre petrol engine shares a three-cylinder architecture with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit, replacing the outgoing naturally aspirated 1.25-litre petrol engine and delivering more power and anticipated reduced CO2emissions from 101g/km. Fuel efficiency is further enhanced with AutoStartStop technology offered for all engines, and a clever Active Grille Shutter for 1.0-litre EcoBoost and 85 PS 1.5-litre TDCi engines. A new Eco button for manual transmissions adjusts engine and throttle settings to help drivers save even more fuel when desired. Underbody aero shielding further reduces aero drag.
The Ford Fiesta has always been a vehicle the British public has warmed to but the truth is that before this seventh generation model arrived, supermini buyers chose this car either because it was great to drive or because they'd been offered a deal too good to turn down: there wasn't really another reason to buy one. This MK7 version changes all that, smarter to look at, smarter to sit in, smarter to operate and smarter under the bonnet. A smarter choice all round then? Many will think so. This still may not be the largest or the plushest car in the supermini sector but on just about every other main criteria, it's either up there or class-leading. There's an unpretentious quality to it and a focus on providing the things that really matter to small car buyers - the fun handling and affordable technology Ford has long delivered to them in this segment but also the low running costs, strong safety provision and low emissions they now need too. And it's all been done with a polish and self belief that we've never seen from a Fiesta before. In short, this is, more than ever, a small car that supermini buyers simply can't ignore.
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