Line up for a corner, sight your apex, turn in and you have that deeply satisfying feeling of the G-forces pulling at you as you grip the wheel to stay on course, slowly unwinding to straight ahead as you exit.
This is a pleasurable feeling when you get it right – and so much better when you’re driving a car that handles well. To achieve this you need a good chassis and that’s the real charm of the Ford Fiesta. I’m sure many owners forgive the little quirks of the Fiesta just for the pleasure of the drive.
For me, the quirk in this new model is that rear-windscreen wiper switch on the left stalk. Change gear, return my hand to the wheel and I bump it. This happened several times, resulting in the obligatory side-to-side wiping motion distracting me in the rearview.
Internationally the Fiesta monicker has been used since the mid-70s and this latest one is something like the eighth generation of the name. We didn’t get all eight in South Africa, but we definitely did get the last few – and that has been good news.
The latest Fiesta, I’m happy to report, retains that suspension system feel. Sure-footed, planted, sticky, call it what you will. It works – and the drive is rather agreeable as a result.
Ford have been building the Fiesta long enough that they’ve knocked off the rough edges and it works well. Combine the sure-footed handling with comfortable seats and the interior layout which offers lots of toys to keep you comfortable and the Fiesta is a good place to pass the time.
I appreciated the ease of connection for my phone to the entertainment system and, although I’m no fan of the tablet appearance of the dashboard touchscreen, it works well. I also enjoyed how well the seat held me in place, being both firm and comfortable.
The design is quite modern featuring the obligatory daylight running lights making use of LED technology, it is wider and longer than the previous model meaning more legroom for rear passengers and small touches like a larger cubbyhole. Ford have also made a break from tradition with this model, there are fewer buttons on the console – and the Ford models I’ve driven in the past certainly loved their buttons. The addition of a touchscreen has reduced the number of physical buttons required to access the vehicle’s functions.
Locally there are five flavours of the Fiesta available, in Trend or Titanium specification with either the 1.0 EcoBoost in manual or automatic or the 1.5 TDCI manual (the test model I drove). That 1.0 EcoBoost engine has won the International Engine of the Year award in the category “engine under 1.0 litre” for six years running.
Interestingly, of the four models using the 1.0 EcoBoost engine, Ford have bumped the power output of the Titanium manual by 18kW in comparison to the others. The torque figure is identical across the EcoBoost range.
Common across the board in the new Fiesta range is the warranty (four years/120 000 km), corrosion warranty (five years), roadside assistance (three years), service intervals (15 000 km) and service plan (four years/60 000 km).
Pricing for this latest generation starts at R261 900 up to R292 500 (for the diesel model tested) and rising to R310 600 for the Titanium spec six-speed auto. For all colours but Frozen White there is a R970 premium to add.
While the new Fiesta is clearly improved on the previous generation and offers a quieter, more sophisticated ride with additional technologies, it very importantly still feels the same and retains that attention to a fun driving experience. In that regard, there is no change in the new model, it is the same as its predecessors – guaranteed to provide a thoroughly satisfying ride.