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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the all-new Ford Fiesta

It’s pretty impressive when a car has been around as long as the Ford Fiesta don’t you think? Sheesh, this guy was originally launched back in 1976 and at the time it was seen as a bit of a risk, especially since the Ford Escort was really styling at the time! But Ford needn’t have worried because since that launch more than 45 million Fiestas have been sold in Europe. Not to mention it being crowned Uk’s best-selling car more times than one can count (well one can, but I don’t feel like working it out and I am rubbish at maths). It hasn’t sold quite as many in South Africa, but with that said, it is still very popular with more than 145 000 sold between 1997 and 2017.

Right, so now that we know the previous generations were popular, what about this all-new model? I first got to experience it at the international launch last year in Madrid, Spain (yes, my job is awesome), and again this week at the local launch at Sun City. I was concerned I might have only been that impressed by the new Ford Fiesta due to being in Spain (obviously I am far more professional than that…or am I?), but thank goodness, after spending some time in it over the past two days, I remain impressed.

From a design point of view, Ford has stuck with an evolution as opposed to a revolution, but for good reason; the Fiesta is a good-looking car. It now has a slightly softer design with a sleeker bonnet; the lines are simpler and the design as a whole is more refined and more sculpted. It has increased in length by 71mm with rear legroom seeing a 43mm increase as well. The boot has even gained an extra 27-litres, taking it to 303-litres.

Ford Fiesta
I just adore the colour of this car

Now if you are a Volkswagen fan, you will know the struggle of loving any other interior. Well I am here to tell you that you might even just fall for this Fiesta’s cabin. Hear me out! It’s far more modern than before, Ford has even done away with 50% of the buttons. Instead you can now enjoy a 6.5-inch or 8-inch touchscreen (derivative dependant) which gives the whole cabin a far more sophisticated feel. PLUS, it contains Ford’s latest Sync 3 which is pretty darn impressive. I had loads of fun sending Whatsapp messages to my driving partner just so I could hear the system read it out. To listen to an emoji being read out is very, very entertaining. You should try it out.

Ok so the interior might not be AS good as the Polo, especially when it comes to the quality of the materials, but it is much-improved and certainly on par with the likes of the Kia Rio or Mazda2.

In my original review I spoke about the Fiesta being “fun to drive.” This is a key attribute for Ford and so it is something they wanted to retain in this new generation. I wouldn’t say it can make you slip off your chair or anything, but ag, it is as fun as a compact hatch can be I suppose. However, the thing that does excite me somewhat is the 1,0 Ecoboost engine sitting under the bonnet. Mainly because it is just so darn impressive. It’s won International Engine of the Year six years in a row, I mean come on! The new Fiesta is offered with the 1,0 Ecoboost in two guises, namely the 74 kW or the 92 kW. When mated to the six-speed automatic transmission, you would be forgiven for thinking this had a far more powerful engine pushing it. If you are really hung on up on fuel consumption you can opt for the 1,5 TDCi which is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission, but it would definitely not be my first choice. This car is also flipping safe with its six airbag, ABS (with EBA and EBD – this makes it safe I assure you), hill assist and electronic stability/traction control.

But how does it really compare to SA’s top-selling Volkswagen Polo? Let me explain using pictures taken at the launch (see below). As you can see the Ford Fiesta is better specced than the Volkswagen Polo, but I fear this will not be enough to knock the German wonder child off its pedestal.

Fiesta vs Polo

I cannot think of any reason not to buy this car. It is safe, it’s comfortable, it has a host of standard features and I believe that the youngsters of today will find it fun to drive. Will it sell the same kind of numbers as the Polo, more than likely not, but it is certainly a great alternative nonetheless.

PRICING FOR THE NEW FORD FIESTA

  • Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT          R261 900
  • Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT           R277 300
  • Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend 6MT                 R292 500
  • Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT     R295 900
  • Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT      R310 600

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

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