Viva Fiesta

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I had the opportunity to drive a basic (plastic wheel covers), new shape Fiesta with the “old” (these things are relative these days, I find) 1.25 4 cylinder engine the other week.  I’m not going to comment on the styling inside or out, because I’m not a big fan of either and it’s got nothing to do with the point here.  What I want to say is that it’s the most delightful thing I have actually driven in a very long time.  The steering was lovely – direct, well weighted, with good feel (I am aware that anything has good feel compared to a Citroen C6).  The engine was acceptably powerful, quite smooth, and gave a slightly out of place but pleasantly rorty rasp from the exhaust.  The handling was great fun, flat and the whole thing beautifully agile, whilst the ride was well controlled, even if it skipped a bit over the poorly surfaced roads around the town I live in.  The best feature was the gearchange, and the way that its weighting was perfectly in harmony with that of the other major controls – I found myself changing up and down for fun, such was the beautifully judged action.  All in all quite a buzz from a very ordinary and relatively cheap little car.  A delight! Why can’t all small cars drive this way? Furthermore, what can’t small cars that drive this way be given a greater dose of style? But then, maybe I would not have been so pleasantly surprised by the experience? Maybe perfection is over-rated?

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

2 thoughts on “Viva Fiesta”

  1. It’s good to see that Ford haven’t lost all their hard won reputation. I still remember the excellent Ka Mk 1 I hired once, but the Ka Mk 2 I hired a couple of years ago was not so impressive – perfectly competent, but too grown up. I guess that engineers pat themselves on the back when they make a small car seem refined and grown-up, but a small car should only be so civilized, I think. I’ve only been a passenger in a new Fiesta. The ride and refinement seemed fine, but the view from the back seat through the rising waistline was rather miserable. I should have asked to drive! ‘Steering Feel’. Now there’s a blast from the past. Driving my Citroen (no feel, but effortlessly precise) and my Audi (no feel, and deadly mundane), the nearest to steering feel I get these days is driving a 10 year old Fiat Ducato.

  2. I got to drive an Aston Martin Cygnet… er, I mean: the facelifted Fiesta late last year. It had the turbocharged three cylinder engine under the bonnet and felt very, shall I say: competent?
    As I haven’t driven any other small cars in recent years it’s probably fair to compare it to the R50 New Mini I owned years ago. Come to think of it, the two cars actually don’t feel terribly different. The Fiesta felt slightly less substantial, but then so it would, given its far superior powerplant – that “Engine of The Year” certainly isn’t lacking in the grunt stakes and had no trouble whatsoever keeping up with German Autobahn speeds. During the de-restricted sections I kept the Fiesta in the 170-180 kph region, which is slightly faster than the Jag under similar circumstances and in keeping with how I used the Mini (unless I was overcome with youthful boastfulness, which did occasionally happen). The Fiesta was considerably more refined than the Mini, whose awful engine became most annoyingly thrashy beyond 3500 rpm, which is about normal motorway cruising speed. It can’t challenge a V12, that’s for sure, but didn’t feel overwhelmed at all.

    The Fiesta’s ride was also better than the Mini’s, as were the basic ergonomics, apart from the cluttered the centre console. That the Mini wasn’t completely and utterly vanquished by the Ford was due to the steering and gear change, both of which were a delight with the R50. Albeit rather heavy, the payback for the physical effort necessary was an impression of delightful mechanical interaction, unlike the superfluous heft of “sporty” Audis. This appreciable weight and directness was what made the crashy ride and dreadful engine bearable – and its the one quality the Fiesta can’t match. But apart from that it’s clearly the better car.

    I wonder how the New New New Mini (no called F-something for the first time, thus spelling the end to ye olde R Rover model code) would fare.

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