The Ford Fiesta is one of the best-selling cars in Britain and Ford’s new EcoBoost engines are also becoming some of the most highly awarded in Britain too; winning the highly coveted International Engine of the Year award for an astounding fourth straight year. So putting the two together is a recipe for success. And what’s more, Ford are continuing to develop and push the little 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder motor, finding new realms of power and economy. It is because of all this I was rather pleased when a Fiesta Red Edition turned up at my house, and why I couldn’t wait to hit the road.
Looks – 9/10
The concept of the Red Edition is simple. The car is finished in Race Red with a black roof, black mirrors, black wheels and a black grille surround. It has a twin too; the Fiesta Black Edition. Essentially this is the same car with the colours reversed, and doesn’t look half as good as the Red Edition. The face-lifted Fiesta is a smart looking beast, with an aggressive front end, sleek profile and nice proportions. I actually like the red/black contrast, but would have thought this car would have come with privacy glass as standard (which it needs). I also felt a little aggrieved that there was no sign of the LED daytime running lights at the front, which really would have finished off the exterior package.
Inside the Fiesta maintains the red and black theme. The trim finish is a lovely piano black, and this is complimented by the usual array of nice plastics. The dashboard in the Fiesta has a lovely texture and as such looks rather nice. The ‘Red’ element comes in the form of stitching on the steering wheel and gear gaiter, which keeps the sporty theme alive. There’s also some red lighting in the dashboard which is a lovely touch. The seats are the same shape as other Zetec S models, but have red sides and a different pattern. Potentially a bit gaudy, I think they will certainly split opinion. I don’t mind them myself, although some grey seats with red stitching would probably have worked better.
Handling/Performance – 10/10
The best feature in any Fiesta is without doubt the chassis. Ford has done a sublime job with this car, and it is regarded as one of the best handling cars of current times. Once you add this to the lively EcoBoost engine you get a car that is an absolute riot to drive. The steering is perfectly precise, giving a sharp turn-in and allowing you to kiss every apex with precision. There’s a nice weighty feel to it as well. Because of the tight front end the rear of the car is allowed a little more freedom to flow through the corners. Turn off the traction control and you can really play about, with the chassis allowing lift off oversteer if you really push. The ride in the Red Edition is softer than in the ST, but still relatively flat through corners. The handling actually outperforms the seats, which could use a little more lateral support. Perhaps I was just missing the Recaro’s from our ST…
Economy – 10/10
The beauty of having a small engine that packs such a punch is that when you take off your lead boots you can benefit from lower running costs. The EcoBoost with 140PS has CO2 emissions of 104g/km which puts the car in VED band B. Road tax is £20, and is free in the first year. The combined fuel consumption is 62.8mpg, which is remarkable. Bear in mind however that this figure will become an impossibility should you utilise the power and overboost. There’s start/stop technology to help in traffic, although a 6-speed gearbox would have probably helped more on the motorway. The optional cruise control (£150) is worth every penny on longer runs and helps to improve fuel economy too.
Practicality – 10/10
For a small family car the Fiesta just does it all. Even the 3-door models are great to live with. Two adults can sit comfortably in the back, and thanks to the large doors and sliding seats will have no trouble getting in either. Visibility is great and there’s a decent turning circle to make parking easy. Because it doesn’t have the firmer suspension found in the ST it’s actually more comfortable on the motorway, making long journeys better. The level of tech is good too, with Ford’s SYNC system allowing you to connect via USB and Bluetooth to give access to all your media. There’s voice control which works very well, and for an extra £100 you can have a DAB radio. As standard you get air conditioning, but my test car had the optional climate control at £275. Finally you can add auto lights/wipers for £150 should you wish to have even more practicality.
Fun – 9/10
The styling of the Red Edition is sporty, and exciting. The engine is a peach, and the handling is sublime. This is a car that appeals to keen drivers and will undoubtedly put a smile on your face. As soon as you hit a B-road the EcoBoost engine comes alive, and will happily propel you from corner to corner. The superb chassis means that when you get to these corners you will be round them quickly too. Then there’s Ford’s wonderful SYNC system which is easy to use and is great for iPod connectivity and Bluetooth audio. It would have been quite easy to score the Red Edition a 10 for fun, but for one thing. The almighty Fiesta ST is god-like in its sheer brilliance, and is selling well. Which means that at some point on a B-road you’re going to spot those LED running lights behind you, and you’ll know that there’s someone having just that little bit more fun than you.
So that just about sums up my week with the Fiesta Red Edition. I don’t fully understand the styling of its sibling, but I like this one. It’s an absolute hoot to drive, and thanks to a small engine, is a cheap car to run. Then we come to price, and we hit a bit of a stumbling block. You see the Red Edition is £16,145 on the road. And that means for £1,200 more you could have an ST. And I sat there for a good hour wondering who is going to buy the Red Edition. It is unquestionable that the ST is better to drive, better to look at, and more likely better to re-sell a few years down the line. And the only conclusion I could reach is that this car is aimed at younger drivers who probably can’t afford to insure an ST. So for those people the Red Edition is perfect; it’s all the fun, but cheap to run.
Total Score – 48/50