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Road Test: Ford Fiesta [2009-2011]

CarWale Team, 25-Nov-2008. Car Tested: Fiesta [2009-2011], Version: ZXi 1.4 TDCi
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Introduction

Anonymous good looks are a double-edged sword.

Introduction

Everyone and their uncle is now looking at buying a diesel car, because the low cost of the fuel and the better efficiency makes you happy every time you see the price of petrol at the pump. Ford has recognised that customers are willing to pay a premium on a car that can give them good returns on fuel efficiency, and have offered the cost-conscious Indian consumer the Ford Fiesta diesel, which has earned a fearsome reputation for fuel efficiency. We have the ‘Go Fida’ experience, but with the oil burner under the bonnet.

Exterior

New headlamp kink and revised bumper adds character

Exterior

The Fiesta’s looks have been spruced up recently, and while the facelift hasn’t had as much of an impact as it has on the 1.6 S, it still is an improvement. We do not like the shouty “SXi” stickers on that variant which look a little too brash for the otherwise understated looking car. The traditional saloon shape remains, so if looks matter an awful lot to you, then you’ll be better served by the newer-than-new Honda City with its futuristic shape. The upside of the conservative and generic design is that it won’t offend anyone. The Focus-ish grille, large front headlamps and revised bumper do lend it a little more character at the front.

Interior, Comfort

Lots of space and spot-on driving position. We like.

Interior

The cabin feels nice and airy thanks to the beige seats and door fabric. The seat fabric has a tendency to take lint or stray fabric off your clothes, so don’t be surprised to see a subtle shade of blue on the seat if you’ve been driving around with your favourite pair of blue denims! The round air-con vents can chill the cabin in a short time, but the ZXi trim, which we tested, misses out on an audio system, which we sorely missed after the experience with the 1.6 S. The plastics in the cabin are on the hard side, but feel like they are built to last. That said, we’ve had the same small dash squeak from the front right side and are wondering if it’s just the press fleet (with prior abuse) or whether this is a regular issue. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve experienced this squeak.

The instrumentation is legible, but the red of the needles could’ve been of marginally less intensity to cater to those with sensitive eyes. A good driving position can be arrived at relatively easily with the adjustments available – the steering tilts but doesn’t telescope. The gearshift has a slightly long throw, but is no less enjoyable because of that fact. It snicks into position neatly, and no vibrations intrude via the shift lever.

There is ample legroom for occupants of the front row, and the rear seat has a good amount of legroom as well. There are various places to keep change, keys, wallets etc around the cabin, and even the rear doors have slim pockets that one can use to keep maps in. The boot is quite large, but the width of the loading lip at the bottom means you’ll have to haul your bag high before placing it in the boot. And you do have to be careful not to let the suitcases scratch the wonderful paint on the bumpers and sill!

Engine, Drivetrain, Fuel efficiency

Enthusiastic engine, but fuel-efficient, too!

Engine

The talking point of the Fiesta TDCi, the DuraTorq engine, is made of aluminium and displaces 1399cc through four cylinders in line. It is a turbocharged unit and utilises common-rail direct injection to generate 68bhp@4000rpm and 160Nm@2000rpm. That horsepower figure may not sound like it’s going to light any fires, but the torque more than makes up for it. The turbo comes on so gradually that there doesn’t seem to be any lag at all – and it pulls cleanly right up to the redline. The engine is smooth at low revs and gets a little vocal near the redline, but this is one of the better diesels we’ve come across. The gruff note when it’s singing near the redline is quite pleasing! The long-throw shifter is very nice to use, and the gear ratios are well matched to the engine. A tall-ish overdrive ratio plays its part in achieving good fuel efficiency figures.

Fuel efficiency

The Fiesta lived up to its reputation of being a teetotaler by returning 14.4kpl to every litre of the sticky stuff. This, despite the fact that we loved driving this car quickly and didn't hesitate to put pedal to metal. When we did watch ourselves, it offered over 18kpl, and during our fuel-sapping performance testing, it refused to duck below 9.6kpl. Truly commendable.

Ride & Handling, Steering

The view we like best in this car.

Ride and Handling, Steering

In keeping with the car’s easygoing character, the suspension is tuned for comfort. The low-speed ride does let a few of the larger potholes through, but this means that handling gets a shot in the arm. The car is stable at high speeds, and the steering has good feedback, although we’d have liked a mite more feel from the wheel. The Fiesta does manage to strike a good balance between swallowing craters and giving you decent handling, but that said, a competitor like the Verna packs in better ride quality without losing out too much on the handling front.

Braking, Tyres, Safety

ABS not an option. We're sounding like a broken record player, now.

Tyres

MRF ZV2Ks in the size 175/65 R14 connect the DuraTorq to the road. Grip levels aren’t exceptionally high, but we’re certain they play a role in that fuel efficiency figure. They are fairly quiet at speed, although we wish that they possessed a slightly softer compound. It would certainly help the ride.

Safety

The top-end variant, the SXi, gets ABS and twin airbags, but the ZXi we tested had neither. We’d have liked them to be options.

Cost, Overall evaluation

At the petrol pump is where owners are the happiest.

Cost

Rs 7.9 lakh gets you one of India’s most fuel efficient cars. However, at the price you can get far more exciting cars, but the catch is, they’re all petrol cars. The only real competition it has is from the Verna CRDi, and that caters to a slightly different audience. The Fiesta may also come under fire from its younger sibling when the DuraTorq motor makes an appearance in the Ikon. The Ikon will be significantly cheap than the Fiesta, so one hopes that Ford have a clear marketing strategy chalked out for their cars in India.

If there’s one thing that Fiesta owners are, it’s happy at the fuel pump. This car seems like it runs on fumes. However, big maintenance or body jobs will wipe that smile right off – parts aren’t cheap and the Ford service is still not the best around. This is one big reason why a lot of people still stay away from uncle Henry’s brand. However, Ford has informed us that they've worked on this aspect of the car. We will give you an update as soon as we've got the necessary information.

Overall evaluation

The blue oval has always made good driver’s cars, and even though this is a frugal diesel, you will enjoy driving it because under the skin it is really a driver’s car. We’re going to find out if there are performance chips for this engine which will up the power output, so watch this space!

Useful touches

  • Bright headlamps
  • Pull-out cupholder

Painful touches

  • ABS not an option
  • No factory-fitted stereo on the ZXi.

 

 

Test Data

Engine Specifications

1399cc, four cylinders in line, common-rail turbodiesel, 68bhp@4000rpm, 160Nm@2000rpm. View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  36.4
60  55.7
80  75.2
100  94.5
120  114.2
140   ----

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph)
1st  37.7
2nd  70.1
3rd  104.6
4th  137.6
5th  171.0
6th  ----

Performance Test Data

Top Speed  171kph*
0-60kph  6.5sec
0-100kph  17.8sec
Quarter Mile (402m)  20.6sec
Braking 80-0kph  37m/31sec
30-50kph in 3rd  4.9sec
30-50kph in 4th  8.6
50-70kph in 5th  9.1sec

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)  13.2 18.1
14.4
9.6

*Achieved ^During testing

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