Ford’s latest generation Fiesta has been a runaway success since it was launched locally in 2008. With intricate yet sporty looks that have retained its youthful, fashionable feel over the years, not to mention excellent specification and good dynamics, its popularity should come as no surprise. Ford recently refreshed the Fiesta range and finally added a sedan version to appeal to a wider audience, in the process eliminating it from many design-conscious buyers’ shopping lists and making it look at least 10 years older.
Seen from the front, or even the front three-quarters, there are lots to like about the Fiesta sedan. The front end still features Ford’s signature new grille with the Blue Oval trademark as well as the sweeping, elongated headlamps that frame the bonnet. In fact, up to the B-pillars, the Fiesta sedan is basically identical to its funky hatchback sibling. It’s behind the B-pillars that things start going wrong, although I don’t think it was a deliberate defecation.
The shoulder line to the rear follows the line of the side windows as with the hatchback, but because it’s such a steep incline, the new boot is very high compared to the nose, making the entire car look unbalanced from front to rear. The oddly shaped taillight clusters do not pay the rear any compliments and unfortunately make this imbalance even more pronounced. Had Ford opted for a wider, more horizontal design, the Fiesta sedan would not only have looked sportier, but the rear would have been lowered visually because of it.
As with the hatchback models, the Fiesta sedan has a single diesel-powered model in the line up. The fact that this 1.6 TDCI model is furthermore only available with Ambiente specification (i.e. boring plastic wheel covers) adds to the generic look, especially in the white of our test model and will do absolutely nothing to encourage people to rather get into a diesel. I can well imagine how gorgeous a Trend or even Titanium model would’ve looked with some chrome accents and larger alloy wheels.
Thankfully Ford hasn’t done too much to the Fiesta sedan’s interior and it sports the same sculpted surfaces and contrasting colours of the hatchback, even if it is finished in the mass-market Ambiente trim. All Fiesta models, including the Ambiente, are equipped with Radio/CD with MP3 and AUX input connections for personal entertainment devices and, should Ford add Voice Control technology paired with Bluetooth to the Ambiente models, they would have a winner on hand. Other standard features include ABS with EBD, driver and passenger airbags, remote central locking, ISOFIX child seat anchors, air-conditioning and front electric windows.
Powering our test model is Ford’s 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 66kW of power and 212Nm of torque at 1 750r/min. This engine is a beauty and, for the entire week I had it on test, the biggest highlight of an otherwise boring package. Acceleration to 100km/h takes 12.5 seconds according to Ford, while it has a top speed of 175km/h. Nippy the Fiesta is indeed – nimble to manoeuvre in city driving and a dream on the open road, with the significant torque especially handy on uphills.
Ford claims an average consumption of 4.5-litres/100km but I did not get anywhere close to it, my average consumption hovering between 6.5-litres/100km and 7.7-litres/100km. It’s quite unnerving how quickly the fuel gauge dropped and probably the biggest disappointment overall. Brent tested the TDCI before I did and warned me that it was heavy on fuel but I was sceptical – it’s only a 1.6-litre, after all. With a small 45-litre fuel tank and working with Ford’s claimed consumption as benchmark, you should be able to get close to 1000km on a tank. With real world consumption, the range on a full tank is closer to 600km than 1 000km, which is a massive difference… Carbon emissions are tagged at 117g/km.
The Fiesta 1.6 TDCI Ambiente 4-door retails for R191 640, which includes a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 4-year/ 60 000km service plan, 3 years of roadside assistance and a 5-year corrosion warranty. Service intervals on the TDCI are scheduled at 15 000km intervals. It leaves the car in unchartered water, as there are not many 1.6-litre diesel sedans available in the first place. Two things stand out at this point. Firstly, the Fiesta is overpriced – if Ford shaves about R20 000 off that ridiculous price tag, it would be a very competitive model. Secondly, because the Fiesta is so bland, it would be a great investment to pay the R20k premium for Volkswagen’s new Polo sedan.
This car seriously made me consider why one would consider a sedan in the first place, as today’s hatchbacks are designed and built to not compromise on space and practicality. For less than R10k more, you can buy the top quality albeit clinical Volkswagen Polo TDI hatch (read our test here), the reigning SA Car of the Year. For less than that, you could get even more style in Citroën’s C3 HDI (read our test here). I am not sure whom Ford is aiming the Fiesta sedan at and the few potential buyers I can think of disappears in the case of the TDCI Ambiente model. It’s simply too expensive and too bland for such a high asking price.
- Christo Valentyn