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Driving the new Fiestas

2006-02-24 07:08

The Fiesta 3-door Trend - new front looks much better.

John Oxley

As we mentioned earlier this year, when they were first announced, the new cars come in at a time when the whole Fiesta range has come in for a "freshening" - sometimes called a facelift - and add more breadth to the popular small hatchback.

We drove the cars on a trip from Jo'burg International Airport through to Sun City, and we were pleasantly surprised.

We had forgotten just how spacious the Fiesta is, and how well it rides for a small car, and at the same time we were pleased Ford had addressed a number of issues we didn't like in the previous versions.

Not least of this was a plethora of hard plastics, particularly on the dashboard; these have now given way to soft-touch materials which feel more pleasant and at the same time take the cars upmarket.

Centre console

The centre console has also been re-designed to give a classier look, there's a new instrument cluster which takes away hard-to-read digital elements, and there are new switches and new front seats.

The new look dials are white rimmed with white on black read-outs.

The diesels come in both 3-door and 5-door, and give lots of performance, feeling more like the sporty ST than economy cars.

The automatic is fast-acting and smooth, though it's fairly low-tech - as auto boxes tend to be at this level - with three forward speeds plus a pushbutton "overdrive".

Both diesel options are powered by a 1.6-litre TDCi power plant and there are two trim levels.

The five-door TDCi is offered in Ambiente guise and encompasses a more family oriented styling, offering space and practicality in a stylish package.

The TDCi Trend is available in sportier 3-door configuration.

Mated to a 1.6-litre petrol engine the Automatic Fiesta is offered in Ambiente specification in five-door style..

New features at a glance:

  • Connection socket for portable MP3 player.
  • One-touch driver?s power window.
  • Body coloured power/heated door mirrors that fold inwards when the remote central locking is activated or in manual mode when tight spaces need to be navigated.
  • Trip computer to inform the driver of: kilometres to empty, average and actual fuel consumption, average speed, trip distance and external temperature.
  • New, high quality audio unit.
  • Optional technology pack including Blue Tooth hands free system, auto headlamps and rain sensitive wipers.
  • Automatic headlamps with "home-safe" setting so they will stay on for 30 seconds after the ignition has been switched off.

On the outside changes include new bumpers and grille, new headlamps, new rear lamps, thicker body side mouldings and body coloured handles and mirrors on selected models.

The new Fiesta Ghia 5-door shows off the latest tail-light treatment

The new headlamp look is obtained by separating out the three lighting elements (headlamps, parking lamps, indicators) and surrounding each with a chrome finish ring, packaged behind new-look covers.

New nose

Completing the new nose treatment the lower grille openings have been re-shaped with a wider and deeper mesh pattern while the newly penned front bumper now wraps up around the side grille.

The lower section of the bumper has also been reshaped with kicked up curves and the addition of new, front fog lamps.

At the back new tail-lights are designed to show off the individual lighting elements.

The cars also get a new rear bumper with more shape, a kicked-up lower section and round reflector. The new exterior styling is completed by Fiesta ST-style tapered body side mouldings for both three- and five-door models.

Service intervals are pegged at 15 000 km for the 1.6 TDCi while all petrol models will need a scheduled service every 20 000 km.

A 3 year/100 000km warranty is standard across the entire Fiesta range as is a 5 year corrosion warranty.

Ford Protect provides a 3 year/unlimited km Roadside Assistance plan for all new Fiesta buyers while a range of optional Scheduled Service and Maintenance Plans from 3 year/60 000 km upwards can be purchased as an optional extra.

New Fiesta prices

1.4i Trend 3-door

R 120 450

1.6i Trend 3-door

R 134 950

1.6i Trend 3-door (diesel)

R 146 950

2.0i ST 3-door

R 171 950

1.4i 5-door

R 99 950

1.6i Ambiente 5-door

R 122 450

1.6i Ambiente 5-door (auto)

R 133 950

1.6i Ambiente 5-door (diesel)

R 139 950

1.6i Ghia 5-door

R 141 950

Inside Wheels24

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