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Reader test: Ford Fiesta

2009-09-23 10:14

James Webster, Johannesburg

I had owned two Opel Corsa Lites and had developed a soft spot for the brand.  I enjoyed their reliability and good acceleration. When GM brought the new Corsa to our shores a few years back with a limited range they seemed destined to kill off the Opel brand.

For my next car I was looking for good performance and some bang for the buck. The one evening I stopped by the nearest Ford to see the Fiesta.  I was impressed by it’s size and styling.  I came back the next day for a test drive and was fond of the 1600, a few days later I signed up and received my car.


For my budget a could go for the 1.4 Trend with all it’s gadgets or the 1.6 Ambiente with better performance.  I went for the 1.6 Ambiente because equipment levels were still decent. I missed out on a few high tech features but am very glad I went for the 1.6l TiVCT beaut of an engine.  

The steering feels just right and it seems the handling is a lot more capable than what I am willing to risk trying.  The car’s profile points downwards towards the front so you always feel like you’re going faster than you actually are.  Tyres are 15inch 195’s which provide excellent grip and will probably cost a fortune to replace later on.  The ABS braking is excellent while the gear-box is silky smooth.  

This car develops a good 88kw worth of power and 149nm torque.  The new Hyundai i20 1.6 is the only worthy competitor in this weight class which produces 90kw. I have not smelt anything near top speed because of Joburg’s freeway roadworks but it is apparently 188km/h.

The standard radio is pretty nifty with some great bass.  The layout of the standard radio is user-friendly combined with steering-wheel controls.  The rest of the interior is comfortable and not short of storage space.  Rear legroom can get a bit tight behind a tall driver but headroom and boot space are good.

Gripes and teething problems

Ford claim not to give you a biscuit tyre but when you get home after buying the car you realise the spare is a 14 inch, very sneaky.    

I’ve never known how good the fuel economy is because the warning light comes on way too early.  I usually end up putting in 36l after 470km just after the light comes on. 

A few early electrical problems were sorted out the quickly by a friendly service team. My instrument panel had gone hay-wire one evening which was eventually pinned down to some poor earthing.

My dealership sorted out a minor paint blemish I noticed on the roof. They had the roof re-sprayed and let me run around in a Mazda 2 for a few days.


I am really happy and believe I got good value for money. This car will save Ford!


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