The Ford Fiesta has remained a powerhouse in the local hatchback segment since its launch in 1997 when it was named Car of the Year. Two generations later, the model proved its longevity as the US automaker resurrected the fifth generation in the form of the popular Figo.The current generation made its debut at the 2008 Johannesburg auto show. Fast forward four years and it’s a testament to its design that it still remains a stunning hatchback… until the rival Hyundai’s Elantra was launched in 2010.Image galleryIn 2013 Ford launches a new version in South Africa complete with a redesigned exterior, new interior and its award-winning 1.0 Eco boost engine. The model is launched with three engine options (petrol 1.0, 1.4 and diesel 1.6) and is available in three trim levels – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.In terms of design, it seems Ford has turned to its Verve concept debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, for the inspiration of its new Fiesta. The front is dominated by a chunky trapezoidal grille and new headlights with daytime LEDs. The bonnet has also been redesigned. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better looking than the outgoing model but it’s certainly eye-catching.Apart from new tail lights, the rear has been largely untouched. ENGINESThe 1.0 EcoBoost produces a mind-boggling 92kW at 600rpm and 170Nm between 1400 – 4500rpm. Mated to a five speed manual, fuel consumption is rated at 4.3 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 99g/km.The power on offer rivals larger capacity premium vehicles. As I’ve mentioned in our 2013 Volkswagen Golf report, the days of referring to an engine as “only a one-litre” are numbered. We need to evolve our thinking as improvements in technology will mean lower capacity engines producing more power and lower fuel consumption. In our 2013 Fiesta preview, many readers were irate over the combination of the numerals “1.0” followed by a price of more than R200 000; as one Wheels24 reader wrote: “Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost - R231 500. What the hell are they smoking?”We need to shift our thinking when it comes to engine capacity. It’s a three-cylinder that produces 92kw in a small hatch – a fantastic achievement in automotive technology. That said, the new model is expensive despite its great ride, features and engine. So with cost-cutting and downsizing why does it carry such a high price?Andrew Fraser, manager of Gasoline PT development, leads the Ecoboost project team and was on hand to answer our questions. He said: “There’s a lot of high technology in our Ecoboost unit compared to your standard 1.4 four-cylinder unit. Despite its price we believe it’s great value considering its performance.” Ford carries over its 1.4 and 1.6 engines from the outgoing range. The 1.4 delivers 71kW/ 125Nm with fuel consumption figures of 5.7 litres/100km. The 1.6 turbo diesel produces 70kW/ 200Nm using a claimed 3.6 litres/100km and emitting 95g/km of CO2. The 1.0 Ecoboost is a perfect match for the Fiesta chassis. It's incredibly responsive and has plenty of torque on offer. The combination of high revs and great torque is perfect for spirited driving and turbo lag is nearly imperceptible. I was surprised by the throaty engine noise, expecting the “sewing machine” drone we’ve come to expect from a three-cylinder. So why the move to a three? Fraser explains: “Fewer cylinders cost less, making the overall product more accessible for customers.”Petrolheads love to rev their engines while diesel fans love torque for cruising. The Ecoboost is a perfect combination of both and has great performance.The engine is designed for low revs with very long gear ratios so you’re able to push the car even in lower gears from 4500rpm to 8000rpm. It’s not ideal for the engine (or your fuel consumption) but you’ll be impressed nevertheless with the little 1.0.Speaking of fuel consumption, I mentioned earlier it has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.3 litres/100km. I achieved seven litres/100km (1.0 Ecoboost) and other journos who couldn’t be bothered with consumption recorded highs of 13 litres/100km.In a refreshing bout of honesty from an automaker, Fraser said: “It’s an unrealistic cycle not based on real-world conditions such as test track driving. There are too many factors to consider, we can’t judge the way you might drive your vehicle.“It’s a comparative number and one set by an industry standard. That said, five litres/100km is not mythical.”The figures realized were rated on the EU cycle as South African testing has not been done. To be fair you should always add at least two litres/100km to fuel consumption ratings to compensate for your “actual” consumption.The Fiesta has always been an agile city runabout and the 2013 version improves on its city driving reputation. A 5% increase in tyre profile improves ride quality and the steering feels more relaxed.Minimal roll in corners and plenty grip makes the Fiesta one of the best-handling hatchbacks you can buy but driving over poor roads will translate to plenty of noise in the cabin though the model can handle undulations well enough. INSIDEThe new Fiesta’s cabin has a gloss finish for the upper instrument panel with chromed details and blue lighting for the dials, switches and displays. Ford has relocated power window switches and interior door released. The model has increased stowage spots including new central arm-rest storage and large door pockets. The Titanium spec adds keyless entry, a start button, auto headlights, auto dimming rearview mirror, rain sensing wipers, auto folding mirrors with puddle lights and cruise control. Ford’s SYNC launched on the new Focus and ST version makes it way to the Fiesta. The system integrates your digital media player (iPod, MP3, flash drive) and Bluetooth enabled mobile phones to be operated through voice commands and steering wheel controls. The Fiesta marks the debut of the automaker’s MyKey system. It’s a parental control function to encourage safer driving when offspring get behind the wheel. It allows mom or pop to configure the maximum speed and ensure that your teen doesn’t wake up the neighbourhood at night with blaring dub-step through audio volume limits. The system will mute the audio until seat belts are fastened and ensures driver aids, safety systems and more vigorous alerts cannot be deactivated when used. Think of it as having your ‘ol man in the passenger seat, only with this system you will actually get to drive your dad’s new ride. The Fiesta takes on Volkswagen’s Polo and Hyundai’s Elantra and Accent. There’s even competition from its French counterparts the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. If those rivals weren’t enough, Ford’s hatch will have to contend with the Toyota Yaris. The Fiesta has work to do…It’s called the Fiesta and if you don’t want a party every day perhaps you should buy a Focus.What about longevity? With such a hard-working small engine, surely the lifespan must be shortened.Fraser comments: “Yes, it’s a small turbo, but our engines are built to last for more than 250 000km. There’s no question about durability.”The Fiesta is the consummate all-rounder; a great city hatchback with a lot of attitude brought about by a surprisingly powerful 1000cc unit. If you’re looking for your next ride and searching for something your kid(s) can drive but want to retain a little control, the new Fiesta will be perfect.MORE FROM STIf the Fiesta is a hot tamale, fans can look forward to the fiery habanero - the ST version headed for South Africa later in 2013 with a 132kW 1.6 EcoBoost petrol engine that can haul from 0-100km in 6.9sec and reach 220km/h.PRICES (all four-door hatches) Fiesta 1.4 Ambiente - R164 400Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Ambiente - R178 400Fiesta 1.4 Trend - R187 600Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Trend - R201 400Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Trend - R211 200Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium - R231 500The Fiesta is available with a four-year or 120 000km warranty and four-year or 60 000km service plan. Service intervals: 20 000km for the petrol and 15 000km for the diesel.