Saturday 16 December 2017

HOT, HOT, HOT – new Fiesta is a real sizzler, especially with the 1.0L EcoBoost engine

Philip Hedderman

You know you're getting old when you can remember the launch of the oldest model in the Ford line-up.

Tragic I know, but the summer of 1976 is the one of the most cherished for childhood memories.

Unfortunately it's not the mighty little Fiesta, but rather the Indian summer which lasted three whole months – each one hotter and more magnificent than the last.

In fact, so glorious was the weather, Dublin was hit by water shortages and a ladybird epidemic with swarms of the little red creatures everywhere.

A sight to behold just like the little supermini which was about to change the way we, as an impoverished nation, bought motorcars.

Designed by Henry Ford II and originally called the Bobcat, it hit our shores in a blaze of publicity.

The nippy little run-around came in a 40 bhp, 1.0 litre (957cc) or 45bhp 1.1L complete with driver’s wing mirror, carpet on the floor and two, yes, two-speed windscreen wipers.

It was the first mass produced, front wheel drive car for the Blue Oval badge and came with pretty impressive credentials.

She had a 0-60mph in 17.6 seconds, a top end of 85mph and returned a very frugal 35mpg.

If you were feeling a bit flush, optional extras list included a matching passenger mirror and a pop-up glass sunroof.

She wiped the floor with everything around her – not surprising considering the competition were the Opel Chevette, Austin Metro and the Chrysler Sunbeam.

Although, not available in right-hand drive in Ireland and the UK until January ’77, order books were absolutely heaving and within two short years the Fiesta broke the 1 million mark.

Roll on another 37 odd years and now in its seventh generation, Europe’s favourite – B Segment car has exceeded 16 million.

This is by far the best looking (check out the Aston Martin-like grille and snazzy headlamps complete with LED daytime lights)  and the best drive thanks to the award-winning EcoBoost powerplant.

The  three-cylinder turbocharged unit generates a very decent 98bhp while emissions are a Hybrid-like 99g/km – meaning 65mpg and third lowest road tax of €180. But it’s the punchy drive coupled with sharp steering and agile chassis that sealed the deal for us. Handling on twisty country roads was sublime, while on motorways she cruised like a saloon.

Inside this latest offering is jam-packed with gadgets you’d expect to find in a luxury motor, like SYNC, Ford’s clever Bluetooth interface that  combines phone/music and the latest gizmo MyKey.

This key allows parents to alter settings like traction control and maximum speed for inexperienced drivers.

 Other usual goodies like cruise control, air con, one-touch electric windows and heated windscreen are also on the top-end Titanium model.

The only criticism is the price which goes from €15,500 to €19,300.

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