As regular readers of The Root will know, we like to bring you the latest news on small cars from time to time and this is one we simply can’t ignore. The Ford Fiesta has been the best-selling car here in the UK for many years, notching up over 50% more registrations during 2016 than the nation’s second most popular car, the Vauxhall Corsa [read our full, impartial road-test review]
The Fiesta has many excellent rivals snapping at its ankles, though, like the Skoda Fabia, Mazda2, Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo, so Ford needs to make sure that the new seventh-generation Fiesta will be really special.
What does it look like?
Not much different from the current model, at least not at the front, where the new grille and sleeker lights still scream ‘Fiesta’. At the back, where the biggest change can be seen, the vertical lights we’ve all become so used to since 2008 have been replaced by a horizontal design that I think works really well – if the right paint job is chosen, like white or red, which suit the new taillights nicely. The 2017 Fiesta is slightly larger, leaving the new KA+ as Ford’s smallest car, but it won’t exactly block out the sun or be more difficult to manoeuvre, and its simpler styling is just right.
Brits have loved the Fiesta more than any other car since 2008 but like with lots of other things in life, many drivers aren’t turned on by one-size-fits-all cars and like to express themselves, so the new one will be available in four different versions:
- Fiesta Vignale: the posh one with quilted leather seats
- Fiesta ST-Line: the sporty one that looks the part and comes with tweaked suspension
- Fiesta Titanium: the high-spec’ one that is likely to be the most popular choice
- Fiesta Active: the rugged one that will ride on little stilts and feature extra body protection and roof bars for outdoorsy people
A posher interior
Ford’s boffins have worked obsessively with tiny magnifying glasses to make the new Fiesta as high-quality as possible on both the outside and in. No expense has been spared with the materials used inside, tough testing ensuring that the seats will resist coffee or denim stains, and the steering wheel won’t be troubled by sun lotion. Yes, seriously. A heated steering wheel sounds perfect for cold mornings, it’ll be quieter to ride in, and even the windscreen wipers and doors have been redesigned to be 13% and 20% more efficient.
In fact, the new Fiesta is the most technologically advanced small car on the planet. It’s able to scan the road in front by up to 130 metres, which is longer than a football pitch, and the car’s two cameras, three radars and twelve ultrasonic sensors also enable it to monitor 360 degrees.
At night, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection mean that the new Fiesta can detect not just people who are already in the road but also those stepping into the road and even people who just might move in front of the car, warning the driver in each case.
Self-parking systems have until now mostly required drivers to control the acceleration and braking while the car’s computers take care of the steering to squeeze into tight parking spots. On the new Fiesta, though, Active Park Assist with Perpendicular Parking will also step in and apply the brakes during manoeuvres, if it senses even a slow-speed bump is about to happen whilst parking.
Auto High Beam means people driving the new Fiesta won’t even have the hassle of flicking their headlights between dipped and high beam – and it’s even available with Cross Traffic Alert, which helps drivers reverse out of parking bays.
One thing I’ve never liked about the current Fiesta is the tiny blue dashboard screen, which looks so odd compared to the large colour touchscreens featured in most other cars nowadays. Like when Ant and Dec win yet another showbiz award, it’s no surprise that the new Fiesta for 2017 will be available with a lovely 8-inch screen with Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system behind it, bringing their much-loved small car bang up to date. SYNC 3 means that a whole load of the car’s functions can be voice-controlled, along with asking it where the nearest Starbucks is, for example – a bit like Siri on the iPhone. DAB, Bluetooth and a USB port are all standard on the new Fiesta, loads of apps can be downloaded, and a funky B&O PLAY sound system will be on the options list.
What about the engines?
The existing engine range is pretty confusing so it’s good to know that Ford has simplified things for the new Fiesta. Diesel is falling out of fashion, so just one 1.5-litre 120PS engine will be offered for people who grab the black nozzle at fuel stations. Petrol is covered by three different power versions of Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost engine, and the new Fiesta will also be offered with a 1.1-litre petrol engine, which sits at the bottom of the range with 70PS, making it ideal for young or newly-qualified drivers.
The Fiesta has always been marketed as a fun car, picking up loads of awards from journalists and magazines for its sporty handling, and the new model is set to keep this winning recipe going, while being safer at the same time. It won’t go on sale until summer 2017 and will cost a bit more compared to the current model, but the new Fiesta sounds like it’ll stand a great chance of staying at the top of the charts.
A car’s roots definitely play a big part in its success. Ford cars have always done well in Britain, but the Fiesta isn’t so popular in countries like Germany where it currently ranks 19th against the VW Golf in the top spot, or Spain where the Fiesta sits in 24th with the Spanish SEAT Leon topping the charts. Over in America, a very different Ford has long been the best-selling vehicle, only recently slipping to 3rd place in sales around the whole world. We’re talking about the massive Ford F-Series, which is bigger than some houses. Petrol’s much cheaper in the US and many other countries, mind you.