Over 32 years, the Fiesta has been a stalwart in Ford's European line-up with more than 12 million units finding homes. The latest generation Fiesta makes its way to South Africa shortly.
New Fiesta is the first truly global car for the American manufacturer and it will take the same name in every market where it is sold.
The all-new car has a very important role to play in the floundering manufacturer's future, especially since Ford's recent acknowledgement that it will not be returning to profitabilty in 2009.
By Europe, for the world
Developed by Ford of Europe to appeal to customers around the world, South Africa will be one of the first markets outside Europe in which new Fiesta will be sold. Models destined for South Africa will be sourced from Cologne, Germany, and will be available here in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The striking hatchback will be offered in three- and five-door body styles and builds on the momentum generated by the series of Verve concepts and new production models from Ford, including Mondeo and Focus. A facelift of the Focus, bearing the new family look, arrives in South Africa shortly.
But, back to the Fiesta. It shares a platform with the very popular Mazda2 and detailing such as bold, wraparound headlamps, flared wheelarches and a raked profile are similar.
Inside the cabin, bold graphics with mobile phone-inspired interfaces dominate, and the extensive use of colour and different materials has been encouraged.
New Fiesta will, according to Ford, be safer and more comfortable than before, while at the same time being lighter and more fuel efficient. Its dimensions are approximately the same as its predecessor's, but the new car is about 40 kg lighter. It is, however, 10% stiffer than its forerunner.
Big little car
Ford also promises a range of features previously reserved for bigger cars for its new small car. Keyless entry with a start button, automatic windscreen wipers, cruise control and projector headlamps will be standard on certain models.
The new car will be equipped with electric power steering, and an Intelligent Protection System that offers up to seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag.
A new feature, Stall Prevention, is designed to assist in low-speed manoeuvres by altering the car's ignition profile to increase the amount of available torque.
Better fuel consumption and lower emissions are aided by the revised drivetrains and engine range.This includes four 16-valve Duratec petrol and two Duratorq turbodiesel engines, including a green Econetic option, although all engines will not be offered locally.
South Africa will have access to a "similar line-up of engines as before" and an 88-kW 1.6-litre Duratec engine will be the initial range-topping unit. No word has yet been uttered about the all-important ST model.
“It’s an incredibly exciting project,” said Marin Burela, executive director of small cars for Ford of Europe. “All-new Fiesta is a landmark moment for Ford. It’s our most significant global vehicle project since the Model T and heralds the future for Ford product development.”