If there were ever an award for talent but little reward in term of sales numbers the Ford Fiesta would be one of the prime contenders for it. Despite being one of the most engaging cars to drive in its segment, sales have never been hot for this car. That’s largely been due to two reasons. Rivals offered better value (since they were under-priced) and for most buyers better styling as well. Ford seems to have addressed both these issues with the latest iteration of the car. So does it have what it takes to get back on the buyer’s radar?
The new Fiesta stands out from the crowd of midsize sedans. If James Bond had kids and a family then he would in all probability have driven this car. Yes, it does take styling tips from the Aston Martin family of cars and it looks stellar. In fact it looks much better in real life than these pictures. The big grille split in two by the bumper. The swept back head lamps and the muscular wheel arches all give it plenty of personality. There is no way you will mistake this car for any other car on the road. The rear remains largely unchanged though the alloy wheel design is all new.
Ford has given the interiors a minor makeover. The seats are now in grey instead of the all-black of the last car. The dashboard is also a dual tone shade with the lower half being grey and the top being black. This makes the cabin look and feel airier than it is. The hooded gauges look sporty but the old-school Nokia inspired central console with its overload of buttons can be confusing to operate. The quality of materials is decent but could have been better. The front seats are very good for comfort and with side bolstering available you don’t get thrown around when pushing it into corners. The rear seats are supportive as well and with the backrests of the front seats being scooped out Ford has managed to liberate good legroom for occupants here. The boot at 430-litres is decent at accommodating luggage.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The Fiesta will come only with one engine option for now. You get a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel with 90bhp of power and 204Nm of torque. Though the engine might look lower on power compared to rivals its ultra-responsive nature gives it the edge over them in city traffic. It feels responsive from around 1,500rpm which means you constantly don’t really need to shift down to a lower gear all the time. The gearbox is direct and precise to operate and you will enjoy using this unit. Start from cold there is some engine clatter but it subsides soon as the engine heats up to normal levels. The engine is a free-revving unit and will go to it’s redline without a fuss. That said, it’s best to keep it in the mid-range since it does become a bit vocal when revved hard. Performance is good and you get brisk acceleration as you pile-on the revs.
Ride and handling
Ford has always been proud of its driver focussed cars and the Fiesta is no different. The suspension setting is on the firmer side, which means that the Fiesta has one of the best high speed rides of any car in this segment. Nothing seems to unruffled the car as speeds build up and you will enjoy long hours of triple digit speeds in here. In the city limits the car manages to keep occupants comfortable for the most part with only the larger road undulations being filtered into the cabin. The handling is as agile as ever. The steering offers plenty of feel and is well weighed and there is minimal body roll, which means that pushing the car into corners will be a rewarding experience. This is the car to go for if you are a keen driver.
Safety and equipment
The big news on the equipment front is the arrival of Ford’s AppLink feature. This feature works with the SYNC feature this car came with before. This allows customers to safely and conveniently access their favourite smartphone applications through simple voice commands. Initially three applications can be used with this feature. ‘MapMyIndia’, ‘ESPNCricinfo’ and ‘Glympse’ The SYNC feature earlier could help you choose an FM station and connect calls using voice commands.You also get rear parking sensors, twin airbags, door reinforcements, ABS with EBD and engine immobiliser among other things.
Ford has aimed its guns squarely at the Honda City as well as the Hyundai Verna both of which offer plenty of style as well as features of their own. However, the Ford is a much better driver car when compared to both.
With prices starting at Rs 7.69 lakh(ex-showroom, Delhi) Ford undercuts its rivals by around Rs 60,000, which makes the Fiesta good value. Add to that the fresh styling and the exclusive AppLink feature, along with the great driving dynamics, and you realise that this Fiesta has turned the scales heavily onto its side.