The new Ford Fiesta has finally arrived. We've been hearing a lot about it over the last year, and in fairness to Ford, this car is a very big deal. The Fiesta has always been successful in Ireland, but over the last few years it has started receiving some excellent competition from the likes of SEAT with the Ibiza, Kia with the Rio, Honda with the Jazz, Skoda with the Fabia, Citroen with its Air-bumped C3, Opel with the Corsa, VW with the on-the-way Polo, and Hyundai with the i20.
That's a pretty big competition list... isn't it? This is one of the reasons as to why this car is such a big deal for Ford. It's a benchmark car for its segment. It's bit like James Bond, women want him and men want to be him, but in this case, most of the other cars in the segment aspire to be as good and as fun as the Fiesta.
In fairness to the competition though, they're all getting closer. Personally, I would say the new Ibiza is very close in the fun department and even better in the interior department. The new Polo will probably be more refined, but at a guess, it'll probably be too precise and lack in the all-important "fun" department. The Corsa is getting there, and the highly under-rated Mazda2 is very close to being the boss.
At first glance, changes to the new Fiesta are extremely subtle. You really must stare to realise you're looking at a new model. The front pretty much looks the same, and apart from new sculpture to the sides, so too does the profile. The bonnet looks a little more mature as Ford opted to take away a couple of lines. The back kind of gives it away because of the new slimmer lights. You probably wouldn't notice that the new car is longer and wider - even if you had the outgoing model beside it!
Despite not looking much different, the interior and unseen changes certainly make the new Fiesta better than its predecessor. Let's look at the interior. I was never a fan of the old Ford Sync infotainment system. The centre console had this embedded system with horrible graphics, and then there were these confusing buttons that controlled everything. That’s gone now and everything has been replaced by newer and better tech. The materials used on the dash are better quality than before too. The entry levels Zetec will have a different system, which is not a million miles from the last system – though thankfully, it’s easier to use.
Where the Fiesta beats the competition is in the driving the department. The Fiesta's steering is wonderful, and even though the steering feels a little lighter than before, it is a still brilliantly responsive and gives the right amount of feedback. The gearbox is better than most of the competition except for maybe the Mazda2. Once again, short throws between gears and good ratios too.
Ford is doing what SEAT has done with the Ibiza and they are making a rake of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) available with their cars. You'll find that the higher up the trim lines you go, the safer your car becomes. It is great that some of these systems are now available... however, it would be nice if manufacturers would start giving it all as standard. Now it's soapbox time. Our Government needs to cop on and stop charging people extra VRT on safety items within cars too. Safety in cars should not be a luxury. It's a necessity.
The 1.0 Ecoboost petrol would be the car of choice for us. It's available with 100, 125 and 140 bhp. 100 or 125 is sufficient for Irish roads. These three-cylinder engines offer low CO2 and good on-paper fuel economies. Not unusual for Ford, there are plenty of other engine choices available including a 1.5 diesel.
The big seller in terms of engines for Ireland will be the 1.1 naturally aspirated petrol. This engine, according to Ford, will probably prove to be the most popular. We briefly drove these at the Irish launch. The entry-level 1.1 litre 70hp Zetec model comes with a manual 5-speed gearbox. Personally, I'd want for a bit more poke and the 85hp 1.1-litre engine gives a little more. As already stated though, we'd really recommend the Ecoboost 1.0 litre engines.
The Fiesta always does well in Ireland, and it will continue to do so. However, Ford will very soon bring an ST-Line and a Vignale version (see video above) to our market. This should help them reach a younger demographic - especially the ST-Line model. We've also been told that a rugged "Active" SUV-like version will arrive next year.
Price for the new Ford Fiesta start from €16,550 for the 3-door Zetec model. Five-door models start from €17,150.