New Fiesta boosts its street cred
I say sadly; actually it was terrific. In 125bhp form (a version which still scores a 99g/km Co2 rating and can, claims Ford, average better than 65mpg) the turbo EcoBoost almost qualifies as a junior hot hatch. There’s a touch of off-boost lethargy below 1,900rpm, but after that the little engine revs smoothly and crisply to the 6,500rpm redline, and there’s a thick seam of effortless 170Nm torque to revel in on the way there. Even with just a five-speed gearbox, it’s an effortless drive, and maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a hint of Porsche-like roar as you pass 4,000rpm.
As ever, the Fiesta’s chassis is up for any challenges you throw at it, and the updated electric power steering is better than ever. Firmly sprung and rewardingly talkative, it goes beautifully with the Fiesta’s neutral balance and grip. Even on roads streaming with heavy rain and peppered with aggressive Roman traffic, the Fiesta never felt less than confidence-inspiring, and frequently felt just damned good fun. One word of caution: on previous experience, the Fiesta is rather tyre-sensitive, and fitting cheap replacement tyres can make that lovely steering feel disconcertingly vague and unresponsive. You have been warned.
Alongside the EcoBoost units and the carry-over 1.25 petrol, Ford will also offer a new 1.5-litre TDCI diesel and two updated versions of the existing 1.6-litre diesel, the most efficient of which emits just 87g/km. Prices will start from €15,550 for the most basic 1.25 and you can expect the 99bhp EcoBoost turbo to clock in around the €17,500 mark.
Rome’s rule across Europe was once so powerful that all a traveller had to say was “civis Romanus sum” to ensure safe passage. Ford’s dominance of the European car market was once equally great, and while the Fiesta is still the best-selling small European car, it remains to be seen if Ford’s grip on European sales will be closer to Caesar or to Nero.
The Fiesta is packed with glamour, technology and sheer driver appeal, but in a free-falling market, is even all that enough?
The lowdown Ford Fiesta 1.0
999cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating 123bhp at 5,500rpm and 170Nm torque at 1,550rpm
0-100km/h in 9.4 seconds
4.2 L/100km (65.7mpg)
99g/km (€160 motor tax until Budget 2013 changes)
The EcoBoost is special order only for now, but the updated Fiesta range will start at €15,550 for a 1.25-litre petrol engined version
Renault Clio Dynamique 0.9 90bhp, €17,490. Seat Ibiza 1.2 TSI FR 5-door, €17,640. Chrysler Ypsilon 0.9 TwinAir Limited, €17,945.