Hot tamale! New Fiesta in SA

2013-02-22 08:45

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.

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In 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.


The 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.


The 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.


If 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 400
Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Ambiente - R178 400
Fiesta 1.4 Trend - R187 600
Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Trend - R201 400
Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Trend - R211 200
Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium - R231 500

The 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.

  • graeme.saunders.50 - 2013-02-22 09:07

    I took the 1.0 Trend for a test drive, you will be amazed with that engine!

      Killbot79 - 2013-02-22 09:37

      I just think it's a bit expensive for that engine, but a nice car all round.

  • tony.bakkie - 2013-02-22 09:44

    Wayyyyyyyyyyyy over priced

      johan.beneke.79 - 2013-02-22 20:45

      Compared to what?

      louis.langenhoven - 2013-02-24 09:12


      Dev.Oli4 - 2013-02-26 07:15

      Ja dit is duurder as 'n Tata Indico......

  • de.stig.9 - 2013-02-22 10:23

    interior looks cheap and plascticky

  • Ryan - 2013-02-22 11:12

    Front grille looks ugly compared to the previous version, this looks a bit like a catfish...

      louis.langenhoven - 2013-02-24 09:12

      aston martin in there- i like it

  • BLUESILVER2012 - 2013-02-22 12:11

    WOW...I know the new Mondeo is a direct rip-off of the Aston Martin's front end but a Fiesta as well.....noooo

  • MuhammadSheikOumar - 2013-02-22 14:12

    Yes the Fiesta is a great car. Its the poshest small hatch you can buy with all its leather and soft touch materials. Personally I like the new front-end too. But I am finding it very hard to understand how the 1.0 Trend costs R211 000.

  • Makaveli - 2013-02-22 14:46

    Everyone is complaining about the pricing which is very much market related. The comparable product from VW to Fiesta's 1.0 ecoboost trend spec is the 1.6 Polo comfort line. The Polo is R203 600.00 and the Fiesta is R211 200. For offers a very advanced engine vs VW's ancient 1.6. The performance of the two engines are miles apart, so a small premium is justified. Unfortunately VW don't have the big line spec anymore on the Polo range which will be equivalent to the Titanium of which has posh touches like auto dimming mirrors, auto headlights, keyless entry and start etc. that's big car features. I think the price is not not bad.

      aldrin.joseph.54 - 2013-02-22 16:26

      polo does not have service plan as std.

  • jannie.kroese - 2013-02-22 19:43

    Took the 1.0 Trend for a test drive yesterday....amazing!!!!

  • johan.beneke.79 - 2013-02-23 05:30

    Over the years we seem to have become over aware of engine capacity. Not so many years ago, engines between 1000 and 1200 cc was the norm. Ranging from a Mini, Ford Anglia to Renaults. More than that the cars were of heavy construction using heavy guage steel and hardly any plastics. Also, the engines were of simple design with basic carbs and hardly any electronics. Yet it was common to drive these cars non stop, mostly at night because air cons were hardly heard of, over long distances. In the meantime turbos has become very common, cars weigh much less, engine technology has taken huge strides. So much so that the modern 1600 cc engine is more efficient that a 3 litre V6 of recent years. So I can easily understand and believe that the 1000cc engine in the Fiesta is adeqaute and up to the task. It will just take time to get used to the fact that bthe driving pleasure is not originating from a huge lump of metal in front of the stering wheel.

      andrew.ronne - 2013-02-24 22:02

      Lyk vir my jy shop vir 'n nuwe motor.????

  • blane.blandon - 2013-02-23 09:37

    Motor bike engines have been producing those kind of figures for years now in fact the 1l blade motor produces much more than that

  • Sthere Dlamini - 2013-02-23 09:48

    I'd throw a fifteen52 wide bodykit on this juust to scare off all the ST owners...but hey, thats just me... Nice car though...

  • El Nino Ndlovu - 2013-02-23 11:40

    Fraser contradicts himself by saying the 1.0litre Ecoboost model is expensive due to its high technology, then says by making a 3 cylinder its for cheaper reasons . . . Typical dummy response from Ford SA execs!

      Leslie Erasmus - 2013-02-24 10:32


  • Thakir Ed - 2013-02-23 17:32

    seriously and amazing car, fast extremely light on petrol and the turbo sound when u change gears are awesome

  • Thakir Ed - 2013-02-23 17:35

    seriously and amazing car, very fast and extremely light on petrol, the turbo sound when u change gears are awesome.

  • trevorvdv - 2013-02-25 09:08

    The 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium is cheaper than the 2012 MY 1.6 Titanium, the 1.0 EcoBoost Trend is less than R1000 more expensive than the 2012 MY 1.6 Trend, yet the 2013 MY Fiestas come with more features like SYNC and MyKey. I really don't get what the fuss is about. If it was a "1.6" would the price tag be justifiable?

  • Kwashic - 2013-02-26 15:20

    I dont call 7l/100km light on fuel. What mor of 13l/100km as the author says of other journalists trying it. Those are figures for 3 litre engines. Just that alone would leave me wondering why buy a 1 litre that uses up that much fuel? I will check Euro tests and see how it performed in fuel consumption there because in this segment fuel economy is very very important.

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