There are a lot of cars in the market that are jack of all trades, but very few have a distinct selling point. One such car is the Ford Fiesta which a by-word for driver’s car.
The old Fiesta wasn’t really the king of its segment but if you have a wheelman in you, it was pretty much the obvious choice.
The old Fiesta got down-segmented but still retained its DNA. But now, there is a new boy in town flashing the Fiesta badge. We have covered the global Fiesta right from its testing phase, to the deep dive experience and the launch. But is it any good to drive?
Let’s find out:
WOAH! Is that what it looks like?
Oh yes! The new Fiesta looks absolutely (and there is no other word for it) STUNNING!
The new Fiesta is inspired by Ford’s new design philosophy called ‘Kinetic Design’. The idea is to display ‘Energy in Motion’. Cars designed according to this philosophy feel as if they are moving even when they are stationary.
The new Fiesta is no exception. In the front, you get a huge trapezoidal grille with headlamps stretched back to give a very aggressive stance. If, like me, you also liked the old Ikon’s cat eyes, you are in for a treat. The headlamps have a distinct impression of an angry cat.
Moving on to the side profile, there are 2 pronounced crease on the body to give a sense of motion. One can see a huge chrome strip along the window line and very muscular wheel arches.
When you look at the side profile, you will notice that the back is tucked in giving it an appearance of a notchback. The integration of the boot to the car's rear feels continuous with no leaks or inconsistency.
The rear of the car ditches the aggressiveness of the design and adopts a rather conservative approach. The tail lamps have a leaf like structure and a honey comb design.
There is also an in-built rear spoiler and a huge chrome strip that runs between the tail lamps. Even the font in which Fiesta is written has an aura of fun about it.
A lot of people have complained that the conservative rear is a mismatch to the aggressive front. But I think it rather jells well with the whole car. After all, you have to be polite to the people you overtake.
Overall, there is a lot of drama going with the Fiesta. But the true test of a design is when common people walk up to you and appreciate your car. And in the Fiesta that happens a lot. So the design certainly stands apart from the competition.
How is it drive?
This is the acid test for the Fiesta. If the Fiesta fails over here, it’s all downhill for Ford.
Ford introduced both the diesel and the petrol variants at the same but with the twist. Instead of resorting to the conventional 1.6L Duratec and 1.4L Duratorq, Ford introduced improved versions of the same.
The petrol Fiesta is powered by a 1.5L Ti-VCT duratec producing 108 BHP @ 6,045 RPM and 140 Nm of torque @ 4500 RPM.
The diesel Fiesta is powered by a 1.5L Duratorq TDCi that puts out 90 BHP @ 3,750 RPM and 204 Nm of torque @ 2000 - 2750 RPM with the help of a turbocharger and an intercooler.
Let’s start with the petrol engine. If you have driven petrol Fiesta Classic, you will immediately notice that the new engine is a bit sluggish. The reason is, unlike the Fiesta Classic, the torque is kept above the 2,000 RPM mark. Thus the engine does not feel spirited grounds up.
But keep the RPM well above the 2,000 mark, and you will notice that this is one the most refined engine on the market. There is absolutely no noise and its revs all the way to the redline very smoothly and without going breathless.
The power delivery is smooth and the torque is very well distributed throughout the rev band. Every time you cross 4k rpm mark, there is a nice hum from the engine – keeps you engaged in driving.
If there is a niggle – the petrol engine runs out of breathe at a 140-150 km/hour. May be Ford should think of getting the ‘S’ variant back with a little more ‘POWER’
I hopped into the diesel sedan and I was amazed not just with the well-weighted electronics-assisted steering wheel and the reckless surge just above 1,500RPM, but with a library silence in the cabin while all this was going on.
Even with the air-conditioning simmering and the radio turned off, the volume control of the Fiesta's mechanicals were at their minimum at 130kph. There's very little road noise, and there was negligible wind noise. This greatly enhances passenger comfort. The Fiesta's by far the most silent car in its class.
Another Fiesta Titanium driven in front of me touched high speeds and even when the driver gave it the beans lining up behind cars to overtake, I noticed there was very little body movement. Bits of adulation on the road couldn't unsettle the car. The brakes are progressive and with ABS and EBD, you'll never feel unsafe at high speed.
Both engines are mated to a manual gear box. There is no automatic variant over here, at least not for 2011. But that is a good thing because you would need one heck of an auto box to match this manual. The gearbox in the Fiesta is just perfect for both the engines. Their gates are precise, the throw is short and the gear knob acts as a perfect grip.
The suspension set up has not been changed dramatically over the old fiesta but Ford has introduced higher profile tires - 195/60 R15 to precise. The result is the new Fiesta still loves corners quite dearly.
Every time to point the glorious nose to the apex of the corner it just hangs on like a cat to a ball of wool. But if you push extremely hard, there is a slight hint of body roll. Our guess is because of the 15 mm increase in the ground clearance. The ride is very compliant and absorbs the bumps and the potholes very well.
A special mention to the steering capability of the Fiesta. Ford has done away with the hydraulic set up and has opted for an electronic one. The results are just fantastic. The electronic steering wheel adapts to the driving situations very beautifully.
While making a U turn or parking, it is so light that even a 4 year old kid can move it with one finger. But as you reach higher speeds, it weighs-in and focuses on feedback as much as possible. The electronic steering wheel makes driving effortless and fun. That is definitely a thumbs up!
The brakes haven’t been touched much from the earlier generations and the performance is unchanged. No complaints there.
Overall, we are happy to say that the Fiesta retains the Ford DNA and is still the Driver’s car for the little kid in you.
How is it like being inside the new Fiesta?
The Fiesta’s interiors are a complete departure from the old one. Don’t expect beige or brown interiors with wooden finish over here, this is not that sort of a car.
Step into the Fiesta and you are greeted with a match of black and silver combination. The dashboard has a butterfly layout which is very unique and eye catching and even more eye catching is the instrumental cluster layout.
The instrument cluster really comes alive at night with its sharp yellow lights and red needles.
The butterfly shaped center console may baffle you from a distance but it is really very intuitive and hardly takes any time to learn it.
There are a lot of cubby holes and mesh pockets around the Fiesta to take care of your valuables. The steering wheel has a perfect grip and 5 way buttons for audio, phone and voice recognition controls.
You get a small screen above the center console that displays information such as radio stations, track name, time, date etc. It has a good music system which supports CD, AUX and USB.
A special mention to the bucket seats at the front that keep you in perfect position when you are cornering hard. There is good lumbar and thigh support for the driver and the passenger. Overall, the car is very spacious and roomy even for the generously proportioned.
The place where the picture really falls apart is the quality of the interiors. The plastic quality is not up to the mark. There are exposed hinges that do not give a very good impression. The glove box rattles on its hooks. The dull black and the laminated silver does not make it feel like a Rs 8+ lakh car. The fit and finish needs to be improved.
Is it feature laden with respect to its price?
Oh yes, the Fiesta comes with some really cool ‘segment first’ features:
The cruise control feature is really first in its class. But a lack of good motorway networks in India means you will not use it everyday.
The voice recognition feature is a really slick feature to show off. Basically you press a button on the indicator stick and speak a few commands and the car does accordingly.
You can select the temperature, fan speed, track number, radio channel without taking your hands of the steering wheel. Sometimes the system recognizes your commands, sometime it doesn’t; but it is definitely fun to play with.
You also get Pull Drift Compensation in steering which makes minor corrections when you are driving on a crowned road or facing a cross wind. This system’s action is very rarely noticeable though.
Automatic climate control, auto retracting electric mirrors with indicators, speed sensing lock, child lock and rear parking sensors are a few other features that caught our eye
ABS and dual front Airbags are standard throughout the variants. You also get 2 years and 1,00,000 km warranty
Is there something I would NOT like?
There are a few foibles of the Fiesta that you may not like:
- The car vibrates at speeds above 140 km/hr.
- The plastic quality is very average and needs to be improved for a 8+ lakh rupee car.
- The bottom end torque (a Ford trademark) is missing in the petrol.
- Some people believe that Ford should have given a start-stop function (a la Hyundai Verna). Although I really cant see the point. Is turning a key so difficult?
- At very low speeds, the ride is a bit hard.
- There are a few ill-fitting gaps and exposed hinges that spoil the party.
What about the chief rival - Hyundai Verna?
It is time to bite the bullet. Sometimes just being a good product is not enough, timing is important as well. The Hyundai Verna was launched 2 months before the Fiesta and it clocked 20K booking in a very short span.
As a result, it managed to capture a sizeable number of orders before the Fiesta was launched. The range in which the Verna was launched, it has managed to hurt the B+ and C segment at the same time. So where Hyundai delivered 4000+ Verna in the first month, Ford has managed to deliver on 785. But the battle has just begun, and it’s a long way to go.
Any last thoughts?
With the launch of the Ford Fiesta, Ford has successfully managed to retain its DNA of a ‘Driver Oriented’ car.
When it comes to driving dynamics, it can really rival cars from above its segment. Unlike many cars, the new Fiesta has a distinct identity and a unique selling point that actually works and is not just another marketing hokum.
However, the premium pricing may make a lot of customers shy away from the buy. But if you haven’t taken a test drive of the Fiesta yet, trust me, you are missing out on a whole lot!
What are your thoughts on the new Fiesta?