Our Cars – Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red 1.0

One of the few positive things I could say about owning a RenaultSport Clio was it never left me short of things to write about.

Keep a tight hold of that lever. (Image: DreamWorks)

From the way it demolished a corner to the way it demolished a gearbox, every journey was an anecdote. Owning the Clio was exciting in the same way that owning a live hand grenade would be exciting. By this yardstick, the Fiesta simply cannot compare. It is simply too smoothly competent to inspire easy prose. Go for a drive however and the Ford proves to be a capable story teller in its own right.

Parked in a bush. (Image: author)

Like any good writer, the Fiesta feeds through just enough information to keep things interesting. Unnecessary details are written out; speed humps and potholes have their edges rounded off. Rolling refinement is good, with only the worst concrete surfaces transmitting through to the cabin. Wind noise is well suppressed. Indeed, the Fiesta will easily mix it with the ton up boys on the motorway, the 1-litre three pot an entertaining companion at full chat.

Ah yes, what a character the tiny Ecoboost is. Clattering away like an old CVH on the outside, in the cabin the three pot positively warbles. Fords have always favoured tractability over economy and true to form, an indicated 35.4 mpg is disappointing. Easing away from the lights instead of constantly exploiting all that low down turbo boost would likely improve matters (as if that were at all likely in my care).

Bit tight in the boot. (Image: author)

Complaining about the accommodation in a small car is churlish. If hauling people or stuff is a requirement, Ford will gladly sell you a long wheel base Transit. Surely enough, two big adults up front will find the Fiesta tight elbow-wise, if not in terms of legroom. Even so, sufficient room remains in the rear for sub-teenagers and their enormous seats. The smallish boot will struggle to accommodate a child’s interminable things, especially if a modern pushchair is thrown in. One wonders how young mothers used to get around in their mark 1 Fiestas? Quite tolerably, if the alternative was taking the bus.

Nonetheless, a Honda is more adept at finding space where there is none. Incidental stowage is another sketchy detail. While there are two cupholders up front (with mood lighting, no less), the rear has none. A mobile phone docked into the USB socket rolls around the cabin for the lack of a birth. At least the glove box has capacity for a couple of copies of Moby Dick; a Seat Ibiza I once had use of would not even swallow its own manual.

That Syncing Feeling
Go on, have a good prod. (Image: author)

Historically, reviewers have zeroed in on the Fiesta’s Sync interface, and it is easy to understand why. Whilst the Microsoft designed system is speedy, navigating it is not. We have touched before on the dashboard’s many, many buttons; traversing the hierarchy of menus is achieved via a four way directional pad and four unlabelled buttons granting context sensitive options. It would be better to group the screen and buttons together, plus colour code the four context option buttons with the red one always being “back”, as per game controllers. The numerical keypad is entirely redundant.

As it stands, the distance between the welter of interface buttons and a small screen set far away introduces an uncomfortable dissonance that never fades. In short, the system is crying out for a touch screen set much closer to the driver. And speaking of crying out, Sync’s voice command function is little help. Thankfully, holding the voice button slightly longer launches Siri on a paired iPhone, leaving Sync performing as the Bluetooth phone preparation you actually need it to be.

Winding It Up

Six months and nearly 4000 miles into a lease, and despite a daily gauntlet of speed humps and potholes, the Fiesta is yet to manifest any creaks or rattles. Nothing has fallen off; no warning lights have come on; the engine has not used a drop of oil. All very welcome from an ownership perspective, but not so good for a wannabe hack requiring grist for the mill.

The plain truth is that my impressions have altered not a whit from my initial test. On the road, the Ford continues to delight. That it has also proven turn key reliable thus far is a Fiesta bonus.

Ford Fiesta Red Edition 1.0

Time on test: 6 months
Miles: 3850
Faults: None
Costs: None

Author: chrisward1978

Professional pixel pugilist and word wrangler. Unprofessional pub snug raconteur.

15 thoughts on “Our Cars – Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red 1.0”

  1. I’m pleased your choice is rewarding you in the right ways, Chris. It’s amazing how we pay so much attention to the qualities of infotainment these days, isn’t it? It’s like, well, since they’ve put themselves in the firing line against Apple and Google with touch screens and rotary controllers and the like, they should make them just so. My wife hates the mere presence of the screen on my Mazda 3 and tried to physically remove it (cue yelps of circuitry sympathy from yours truly ….) before driving it the other day!

    More seriously, I think you have done well to ‘buy’ one of these, as I think we shall soon be talking wistfully and reverentially of it in the near future as the new car disappoints as a watered down, more mature and less well resolved update of this version. Unlearn, indeed!?

    1. Thanks. Early days of course, but I’m a sixth of the way through my lease and the car is putting up a good showing thus far. As for the next generation Fiesta, I strongly suspect that penny pinching Ford will carry over the running gear to the “new” model without making meaningful changes. Considering the competitiveness of the drive and that their cost has probably been amortised long ago, they would be daft to fiddle with it.

  2. Although no great lover of Ford’s current styling, particularly their 3/4 views, this seems to be a very good car to have. Sure, the Clio would offer you the odd sublime moment, but more often the Ford’s virtues will win out. I’m writing about my Cube tomorrow and it seems to me that its infotainment system (which I suppose might almost date back a decade) is as far as I need to go. It’s reasonably simple and pretty clear. Until autonomy arrives, I can only press so many buttons when I’m driving.

    1. Yes, it is a shame the Fiesta’s styling is a touch bland, but at least it is well resolved and has some material richness here and there. The Clio was such a mean, penny pinched device in comparison. Regarding the infotainment, the Fiesta reminds me of high end cars from ten years ago. Sit in an old 7 Series from the time and it is the massive phone preparation that dates the interior. We can bewail touch screens, but they needed to happen.

    2. The point I make about the Cube is that it’s system seems to be at a sweet point of infotainment evolution. Things I want to be physical switches, such as volume control and selection of primary functions are, so I can memorise their positions and select them without taking my eyes from the road. They are also in a mundane, logical grid, not arranged in an elegant curve or the like. Secondary stuff involves using the touch-screen but unless you really need to select a specific Alexander Armstrong (I assume that’s what you young chaps think people of my age listen to) track as you’re barreling down some leafy lane at an illegal speed, that isn’t an issue. Neat and cutting edge as the Tesla dashboard might look, I suspect that the average driver takes their eyes off the road using it far more than they should.

  3. I get the inpression the Fiesta isn’t that well packaged. Just as a saloon often has a boot designed to take a sack of golf clubs, every B-class should be able to take a standard push- chair plus some extra luggage.

    1. Packaging is not its strongest suit: “adequate”, as Autocar might say. The Clio made similar interior space from a smaller footprint, although the boot was tiny. Regarding modern push chairs, nothing short of a low loader is sufficient.

  4. Cyril Connolly memorably wrote “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall”, but this review demonstrates that’s a load of horse-shit.

    Excellent stuff, entertainingly written and informative, head and shoulders above the dreary long-term reports in the Bauer’s British offerings, which often read like punishment exercises meted out to those guilty of minor breaches of the rules, such as fomenting disorderly behaviour in the dining halls, or ‘bombing’ the exercise yard.

    That said, I had time to read the long-term reports in Boring Boring CAR on a train journey this afternoon, and Ben Whitworth’s fine valedictory assessment of his XE – a hideously expensive, optioned to the hilt 2.0 diesel – confirms my suspicions that the car simply isn’t good enough. Elsewhere, Aff-C chooses as his text the quantity of sharn which has accrued on the carpets of his Passat wagon. And by this he makes a living…

    1. Many thanks. It is my opinion that interest can be found in any car, irrespective of price bracket, if only the writer cares to look. I find it galling when a paid writer gripes about being relegated to what they perceive as a penalty box, the implication being that such cars are for the birds. People buy such cars every day, and the writer is being paid to give an honest appraisal of the car’s merits, or otherwise. Not only that, these journalists are being gifted the use of a car FOR FREE (barring running costs, of course), which is as good as £150pcm or more in their pay packet. Save the carping for the office, not the page.

    2. Agreed. Both with Robertas’s comment on the quality of your post, and about the fact that, as both car and magazine purchasers, we are supposed to conspire with the journalist’s dismissive comments of the sort of cars that we drive every day. In one of my earlier Cube posts I mention a long-term review of it, and the writer never seemed to get past his self-consciousness at its appearance. Yes, there’s a bit of unnecessary radiusing and asymmetry but it cube-ness serves a practical purpose. Yet although he (he, of course) grudgingly admitted its practical virtues, it was apparent that he felt his Editor had given him the short straw.

    3. Sean: It strikes me that, for different reasons, both the Fiesta and the Cube are damned to perpetually battle other people’s prejudices. The Fiesta is about as common a car as you will see on British roads. That it is a much better car than it needed it to be matters little; as a Ford, its ubiquity condemns it. On the other hand, a Cube is a rare sight. Its eccentric design encourages attention and people to throw their opinions at it unbidden.

  5. Good to hear that you made the right choice Chris. It’s still on my radar. Finally getting passed the buggy stage so might be able to live with the small boot. Interesting that you don’t have an iota of regret about not picking the ST, that speaks volumes in itself.

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