Ford’s engineering directive for its updated Fiesta must have been “good things come in small packages”, for despite its diminutive size, this supermini packs more advanced technology and zippier performance than before.
The Fiesta may have only received a facelift, but given its drastically different design, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is an all-new car. The front end is now more aggressive, thanks to that massive grille shaped like a whale shark’s mouth. Meanwhile, the rear end has been given a redesigned bumper and a new roof spoiler.
What you can’t spot, however, is the supposed three per cent reduction in aerodynamic drag. Ford claims that this was achieved through more than 150 hours of wind-tunnel testing in order to improve the vehicle’s refinement and efficiency.
Also more polished this time around is the cabin, which features air-conditioning with automatic climate control instead of the manual setup found in the previous model. The biggest upgrade, however, is the inclusion of Ford’s Sync in-car connectivity and infotainment system, which till now was only available in the brand’s higher-end models.
Apart from allowing you to sync (no pun intended) up to 12 smartphones via Bluetooth, you can use the system’s voice control function to call your friends and scroll through your music tracks. For added convenience, the system can even read out your text messages as you drive. Although this remains a distraction to be avoided, it is at least a legal one.
Enhancing the driver’s pleasure is the new Ecoboost powerplant under the bonnet. Said unit is a turbocharged 1-litre, 3-cylinder engine that produces 100bhp and 170Nm – 4bhp and 45Nm more than the naturally aspirated 1.4-litre inline-four powering the preceding model sold in Singapore. Thanks to this extra muscle, the latest Fiesta is a lot quicker than the older car. The century sprint is now dispatched in 10.8 seconds – a massive 3.1 seconds faster than before.
Apart from being more powerful, the Ecoboost motor is more efficient, too, thanks to its smaller displacement and “missing” cylinder. It averages 20.4km/L – an improvement of 7.4km/L over the 1.4-litre engine.
The really amazing bit about this motor is its smoothness. Three-cylinder powerplants are usually rough, but Ford engineers countered this by using specially designed engine mounts, along with a clutch and flywheel that are both designed to minimise vibrations. Indeed, the engine betrays no harshness whatsoever despite the lack of a balance shaft, which would have added weight and reduced economy.
Complementing the motor is Ford’s Powershift dual-clutch gearbox that replaces the old 4-speed automatic. While not as quick as Volkswagen’s DSG, the Powershift transmission is nevertheless smooth. There are no paddle-shifters in the Fiesta, however – DIY shifting is instead accomplished via a rocker switch on the right side of the gearshift lever.
Sure to please enthusiasts, however, is the Fiesta’s precise helm. The electric power steering has been tuned to provide greater accuracy, and it really shows. Carving through mountain roads was a delightful experience, but drivers will also appreciate the steering’s ability to adapt to slightly cambered roads. While motoring down the expressway, we barely had to make any steering corrections, for the Fiesta tracked straight and true. It’s a trait you’d only expect to find in premium cars.
Equally surprising is how competent this supermini’s handling is. Turn-in is crisp and body roll is well controlled, but this also means that the ride feels stiffer than before. Still, the trade-off is worth it – especially for the added nimbleness.
What the Fiesta cannot outmanoeuvre, though, is the fact that it isn’t as spacious as rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz. Backseat space is adequate at best, while the front seatbacks should’ve been made wider in order to accommodate larger bodies. Also, the drum brakes at the rear (carried over from the previous model) should have been replaced by discs to improve the car’s stopping abilities.
That said, this perky little number remains a hoot to drive, as it’s arguably still the most driver-focused contender in the supermini segment.
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 (A)
ENGINE 999cc, 12-valves, inline-3, turbocharged
MAX POWER 100bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 170Nm at 1400-4000rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 10.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 180km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 20.4km/L
CO2 EMISSION 114g/km