Thursday, 19 February 2015

REVIEW - Ford Fiesta EcoBoost Zetec

What do you get when you cross one of the country’s best selling cars with a multi-award-winning engine? No, not a punch line; you get the car in front of you now. The Ford Fiesta Zetec with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine under the bonnet. I will confess to being slightly apprehensive once I read the spec sheet, because I discovered that my little 1.0-litre engine was attached to an automatic gearbox. But nevertheless this is a Fiesta, and that’s a good enough reason for me to get stuck in. So just why is the Fiesta such a hit with the British public? I set about trying to find out…

Looks – 8/10

The Fiesta has been facelifted within the last couple of years, and looks all the better for it. The front grille is much more aggressive, and the more angular headlights are an improvement. Although I much prefer the LED daytime running lights fitted to the higher trim levels. They make the Fiesta much more distinctive from a distance. The chrome window trim is a nice touch, but the wheels leave a lot to be desired. At only 15-inch they let the exterior style down. The rear lights are a new design, although they haven’t changed much. The sweeping line from front to back is still a wonderful piece of design, and the chunky door handles give a solid look.

Inside the quality of design continues. The dashboard angles away from the centre in a rather symmetrical fashion. And the gloss-black trim contrasted with the matte silver trim creates a balanced interior that avoids being too dark. There’s mood lighting throughout the cabin which help the ambiance, and the new blue dials and media system background are much more premium looking than before. The seats have a very nice pattern on them, but I think the door cards could have used a bit more style; they’re rather nondescript. The dashboard also has a nice texture and looks much better quality than some of the usual plastics.

Handling/Performance – 8/10

Now we get to the interesting part. Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine has been praised by a significant majority of the motoring community; and rightly so. It’s proved itself to be rather versatile indeed, offering a variety of power outputs and in no instance feeling like a small-capacity engine. My test car came with the 100PS version which has 170Nm of torque, and through the Powershift transmission does 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 112mph. The gearbox is well worth a mention, because it has 6 gears. This is a big deal, because the manual versions only ever have 5. So not only are the changes smooth, the engine speed is reduced on the motorway.

For me, the best bit of the Ford Fiesta is the bit you can’t really see. It is without doubt one of the best chassis in a small car. The whole car feels balanced and poised, and you can point that more aggressive nose exactly where you want it. The aforementioned 15-inch wheels do cause a slight issue if you attempt to corner briskly though, because there is a degree of tyre lean, so that’s another reason to opt for some nice 17’s. The ride in the fiesta is certainly comfortable though, and although this will lessen with lower-profile tyres I can tell you from experience that even on 17-inch wheels the car remains a pleasure on any road.

Economy – 9/10

The advantage of having a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine comes in the form of rather low running costs. By adding the Powershift transmission you lose the auto start/stop technology, and this costs you a few CO2’s. In manual form, the EcoBoost is in VED band A meaning no road tax to pay. The Powershift here emits 114g/km which puts it in band C. That means a free first year, and £30 thereafter. I can’t really knock that too much considering the advantages of having the extra gear. Combined fuel consumption for the automatic is a respectable 57.7, and for those of you who are a bit sceptical to these figures I can tell you I got to around 52mpg on a 170-mile run down to Cheltenham, which I was suitably pleased with.

Practicality – 9/10

Being a 5-door model, my test car was very practical indeed. The cabin is reasonably spacious; fitting 4 adults in comfortably. The boot isn’t the largest, but it is rather deep, and will more than manage the weekly shop and kit bags. I loved the Powershift transmission because it gave the Fiesta that motorway cruising ability sometimes lacking in small cars, although to go with this I would have liked to see cruise control. Having this car in February meant that the heated windscreen came in use as well; a system which is often the envy of those out scraping their cars in the morning. And although it was an extra (£500 to be precise) the Ford Navigation system with SYNC and DAB radio was a welcome addition and helped in unfamiliar territory

Fun – 7/10

I think this is part of the success of the Fiesta. For a little car it certainly has a lot going for it. The drive is superb, although it’s not quite as good as the Fiesta we’ll be taking delivery of on March 1st (watch this space). There’s plenty of tech, and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost certainly surprised a lot of people. A friend of mine has a different 1.0-litre car and couldn’t believe the difference in drivability after a trip in the Fiesta. I think where the Zetec falls down is in the position it takes in the Fiesta lineup. It’s not sporty-looking enough to sit next to the Zetec S, and doesn’t have the standard kit or premium style to match the Titanium. So it kind of feels a bit lost in the middle.

Concluding Remarks

And there you have my week with the Fiesta Zetec. I like the EcoBoost engine; even the 100PS is plenty to get you going. When you consider that there are also 125PS and 140PS versions of the little 1.0-litre you really can appreciate the versatility and why it has been so highly awarded. My initial doubt of the Powershift transmission to accompany it was soon put right; for me it made the car. I travelled a lot of miles in this car in what was a surprisingly hectic week, and it never let me down. I never fell out with it, and it reminded me why the Fiesta is so popular. The EcoBoost Zetec with Powershift starts at £15,795. So pop into your local dealership or visit the Ford website for more information. The Ford Fiesta; rightfully the best-seller in its class.

Total Score – 41/50

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