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Ford’s next-gen hatchback: Can the premium Fiesta take on VW’s popular Polo in SA?

2018-05-16 07:38

Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids

 • Contemporary new design
 • New interior, quality of materials, new technologies 
 • New suspension, improved safety
 • SYNC3 connectivity

New design, upgraded technology, enhanced suspension… Ford has launched its all-new Fiesta in South Africa.

Ford’s Fiesta has grown-up; the funky hatchback has moved from adolescence and transformed into a true premium offering...but so has its biggest rival but more on that later.

Two derivatives are available (Trend and Titanium) available with two engine options (1.0 EcoBoost, 1.5 TDCi) mated to either a six-speed manual or auto. Prices start from R261 900 for the 1.0 EcoBoost Trend manual to R310 600 for the top-of-the-range Titanium auto.

Does the next-gen Fiesta have what it takes to topple Volkswagen’s popular Polo? We find out at the launch in Johannesburg.

 

Engines 

The Fiesta is powered by Ford’s six-time International Engine of the Year, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, offered in two variants. In the Trend derivative with a new six-speed manual, as well as the Trend and Titanium equipped with a six-speed auto, the 1.0 EcoBoost produces 74kW/170Nm. The Fiesta Titanium, mated with a six-speed manual, uses a 92kW version of this engine.

The 1.5-litre TDCi turbodiesel is only available with a six-speed manual, producing 63kW/175Nm. All engines feature auto stop-stop and there’s a new Eco button for manual transmissions.



What do you think of the new Ford Fiesta? Do you think it can stack up against the VW Polo? 
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Driving it

I guess the biggest question, at least according to Ford’s marketing, is it fun to drive? In short, yes provided the hatch is in 92kW guise. The extra 18kW makes quite a difference compared to the entry-level model and overall delivers a fun experience behind the wheel. That’s not to say the 74kW petrol and diesel variants aren’t without their benefits. 

The TDCi is the frugal champion of the range and given SA’s exorbitant fuel price, and the fact that its biggest competitor lacks a diesel option, the diesel-powered Fiesta might prove popular among those feeling the pain at the pumps. The typical dieselbrom is mercifully minimal.

The manual box proves adequate and the auto switches gears with ease. Considering its relatively low power output paddle shifts are a strange addition.                                                                     

Ford’s engineers have done a lot to improve on suspension and handling; there’s minimal body-roll in corners, the suspension is capable of absorbing bumps and undulations and overall it's composed during a spirited drive.

According to Ford: "A lighter, stiffer hollow front anti-roll bar contributes to better roll control and steering feel. Steering friction is reduced and gearboxes now deliver smoother gear changes.

"The Fiesta’s chassis now offers 10% more cornering grip, while braking distances at 100 km/h are reduced by more than 8%."

Overall, Ford has produced a great product that builds on the success of its predecessors and sets that bar that much higher in the hatchback market. In Europe, the Fiesta reigns supreme and having driven it in SA it’s easy to see why.

Evolutionary exterior design

Simplified, straighter lines and de-cluttered surfaces gives its an upmarket design. The design changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary compared to the outgoing model yet it still manages to be a good-looking hatch.

                                                         Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids

The Fiesta grows by 71mm additional body length and 13mm. At the rear, new horizontal rear lights further enhance the Fiesta’s widened stance with broad shoulders, and feature a C-shaped signature light pattern.

Ford has introduced two all-new metallic colour options – 'Chrome Copper' and 'Blue Wave'. My favourite would be the ruby red paintjob.

Interior comfort and style

Inside, the move towards premium can be seen throughout the cabin. Ford has done much to improve interior quality, materials and overall enhanced the tech fitted to its next-gen Fiesta. 

The number of buttons on the centre console is reduced by almost half, with many connectivity and entertainment controls relocated to the 6.5" touchscreen fitted as standard on the Trend derivatives or the 8" version on the Titanium incorporating SYNC3 with Navigation. There’s also a stylish new instrument cluster featuring a 4.2" multi-function TFT display that delivers an attractive welcome sequence on start-up.

The all-new Fiesta’s tailgate is wider for easier access to the boot, and improved storage for personal belongings is delivered with a 20% larger glovebox and a 1-litre storage bin and armrest in the centre console. 

The cabin is a great space to be in and delivers a premium experience though as it moves towards upmarket hatch its biggest rival has followed suit. VW’s MMI vs Ford’s SYNC… both are great systems and it’ll come down to user experience as to which one will win over brand-loyal local motorists. 
Intrinsic quality

Parking sensors are now fitted flush with the body panels; windscreen washer nozzles are hidden beneath the upper bonnet lip; there are no visible screws in the taillights or rear fascia.

Smarter, stronger, safer

Front, side and curtain airbags are standard fitment across the range. Rear outer seats also now feature load limiters and pre-tensioners – previously offered only for front seat occupants – to further restrain passengers and help prevent belt-related injuries. 

All variants boast an extensive list of driving aids, including ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), as well as Hill Launch Assist (HLA) Electronic Stability and Traction Control (ESC).

SYNC3 with Navigation

Ford’s SYNC3 communications and entertainment system enables Fiesta drivers to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones using simple, conversational voice commands. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (once launched for the collective Middle East and Africa region). 

The Fiesta’s floating, tablet-inspired 8" colour touchscreen and infotainment system with built-in turn-by-turn navigation is standard on the Titanium and can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures. The Trend model also incorporates SYNC3, using a floating 6.5” colour touchscreen. 

The Fiesta is fitted with Bluetooth connectivity and two USB ports as standard on all models. A high-end seven-speaker sound system is featured on the Fiesta Titanium models, with a six-speaker set-up on the Trend models.  

Rivals

And then there’s the Polo. The awkwardness of a local recall aside, the new Polo has proven to be incredibly popular since its launch in  February 2018. Like the Fiesta, the Polo has also moved away from the budget-friendly car to grab its share of the premium hatch segment.

So how does the Fiesta stack-up against the Polo?

As you can see from the images above, it’s a close battle with both hatchbacks offering buyers loads of kit for their hard-earned Rand. If history is anything to go by, the Polo could maintain its position as the third most-sold vehicle locally. Perhaps in time, as we’ve seen in the European market, the Fiesta could topple VW’s passenger-car sale magnet locally. Other rivals include popular Korean hatches Hyundai i20/Accent and the Kia Rio,

More from Ford

The Fiesta forms part of a new model assault by Ford SA including the new Figo, EcoSport and Focus set to arrive later in 2018. 



Prices:
Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT - R261 900
Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT - R277 300
Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend 6MT - R292 500
Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT    - R295 900
Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT - R310 600

All models are sold with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year or 120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year or unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year or unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year or 60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

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