Ford Fiesta: not just a city-slicker
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Ford created an opportunity for exclusivity by releasing 100 Ford Fiesta Sports last month to dealerships throughout New Zealand and Driven was given the first chance to drive one.
There was a time when you could throw a pair of racing stripes on anything and it would improve a car immensely. These days you have to go a little further.
Black alloys, spoilers, tints and a sport kit will always make more impact — and making an impact is what this hatch will do, but with a punchy 1000cc engine that impact won’t be on your petrol bill.
Cue an introduction to Ford’s EcoBoost engine. You may have sneered at it as a 2.3L variant in the latest Mustang, but you would be justified in doing so only from a traditionalist’s point of view.
The EcoBoost engine has won six international engine of the year awards – in the 1.0L, not the Mustang version, so let’s gloss over that point because when that engine is in a small, lightweight vehicle it is practically perfect.
The EcoBoost engine is Ford’s patented turbo engine that, according to Ford, optimises fuel efficiency and allows a smaller engine to get more power. It’s a shame that the term Eco tends to have a connotation of slow and boring; thankfully this is not the case with the Fiesta.
Fuel economy is a large bonus for the Fiesta, at a stated 5.4L/100km, which is hard to beat for a car of this type.
Economy aside, you will want to push this car into every bend and leave with just as much gusto. It’s a great driver’s car and, despite its small size, it has plenty to offer.
Despite having a sports kit, and all-important racing stripes, the Special Edition retails for $24,990, a good price for an entry-level hot hatch. Inside, you get added value with sporty partial leather seats, assisted steering and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Around town, the Special Edition Fiesta is as sharp as a tack. Take-offs are not as punchy as I’d like — but, once you’re going, there is plenty of power when required. The gear knob has a sport shift button that allows you to change through the six-speed transmission.
This button is positioned for your thumb and it feels a bit out of place as it makes shifting a bit awkward when you are pushing the vehicle.
The best way to drive this car is in sport mode, and then just sit back and let the engine and transmission work it out for themselves.
I took this vehicle out to a west coast beach to test the open road handling and performance. The engine was more than up to the task, it preferred to sit upwards of 100 km/h, so it’s clearly not a Sunday-dinner-at-bowls type of car.
Those sporty seats and the way it sits tight in corners puts it in the minor cardiac arrest category for anyone not expecting the kind of power that it has.
The EcoBoost engine encourages you to push it hard and the response you get will make you question your preconceived ideas about tiny engines.
Practically, a small car is not going to work for anyone with a lot of stuff to transport, but the Fiesta is surprisingly roomy. My jaunt to the west coast beach was not entirely work-related, my surfboard was comfortable between the seats, even with two reasonably-sized children on board for the first leg — the daily school drop-off.
The boot space is sunk well below the rear bumper.allowing for better use of space. Most kids’ buggies will fit in.
There was still room on the back seat for the portable dog kennel. Sans dog kennel there’s even more space, plus you even get a full size spare tyre.
With all of New Zealand’s major centres becoming more congested, a vehicle that is relatively friendly on the environment and cheap to run is going to be a winner. There’s no point buying an ugly hybrid or a full-on “nana” car when you can get inside something with a bit more street appeal.
The Ford Fiesta Sport Special Edition has just enough of that to enable any driver to maintain their ego and have plenty of fun doing so.
Engine: 1.0L, 3 Cylinder Ecoboost petrol turbo
Pro: Great looking entry-level hot hatch. Handles well and isn’t dull to drive
Con: Likes curves, but can feel bumpy but does it stroke the ego enough?