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This Fiesta’s a head-turner

This Fiesta’s a head-turner
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First Published: Tue, Jun 14 2011. 09 31 PM IST

Grey scale: The central console is inspired by a cellphone.
Grey scale: The central console is inspired by a cellphone.
Updated: Tue, Jun 14 2011. 09 31 PM IST
The all-new Ford Fiesta’s finally here. Well, to be fair we have always had Fiesta. It’s just that it was disguised as the Ikon and Figo, which are based on the global fourth-generation Fiesta. And what’s now called the Fiesta Classic was based on the fifth-generation car. So it’s the sixth generation of the Fiesta that’s finally arrived.
The Fiesta is an attention seeker by way of looks, and it will certainly have heads turning. The car’s distinct proportions will also make it stand out among generic sedans, and help it stand tall among its rivals. I reckon the car’s styling, based on what Ford calls its Kinetic design, should go down well with Indian consumers. Inside too, the car is fairly ample in size and has all the things you expect from a modern sedan in this segment—and then some.
Inside the cabin
Grey scale: The central console is inspired by a cellphone.
The cabin is roomy, and the material quality looks and feels good. What’s a bit boring though is the dull grey palette used—a lighter, brighter grey and two-tone black trim would have stood out more. The seats do stand out, as they are very comfortable and well-contoured. The car’s central console design has been inspired by a cellphone so young people would possibly like it more. The climate control is fairly effective and, overall, people will like the sporty character of the interior design.
The big gimmicky USP is the voice recognition system that lets you talk to the car and control the music and the climate control without taking your hands off the steering wheel. The car also has Bluetooth phone connectivity, which too can be operated through voice commands. It works fairly well, and encourages safer driving by letting you go hands-free. Enough goodies to keep all gadget freaks happy too. Ford also says it’s worked on making the car’s cabin the quietest in its class by a mile, and except for some wind noise at speeds above 120km per hour, I agree.
Tech specs
Spot on: The sixth-generation Fiesta drives smoothly on highways and is very stable at high speeds.
I have driven both the diesel and petrol made-in-India Fiestas. The cars sport recently updated iterations of Ford’s similar-sized cars globally. This means that even though the Fiesta has been in the Thai, US and Chinese markets for some time now, we get the new engines before the rest of the global Fiesta family.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine is ample, and currently has a five-speed manual gearbox that has been mated to it. An automatic transmission option will follow later in the year. The car sounds good and does start to deliver. But I found one niggling issue since I had great expectations from this car. I have driven the Fiesta earlier in Thailand and that car had a much sportier ride feel. The Indian Fiesta is great out on the highway, with good overdrive credentials. But in the city, I had to constantly downshift gears, even all the way down to first, to get a good response in a sticky situation. I have to add though that the gear shift is smooth. And the other good news is that handling is spot on—very taut—and the car has a delightfully precise steering.
The car is very stable even at faster speeds, and the all-new cruise control offered in the top variant works very well. Ford says the Automotive Research Association of India (Arai) puts mileage at a cool 17km per litre (kmpl).
I switched to the diesel Fiesta, and I have to say the difference was not immediately apparent. The feel of the two cars is similar, but drive on and the differences become evident. The 1.5-litre diesel variant is similar to the petrol at word go, which means at low rpm (rotations per minute), things are not punchy and you need frequent gear changes. But on the highway it’s a different story. The car has even better handling than the petrol one, and again that super steering really allows you to enjoy the drive out on the open road. The suspension is also good, and the ride in the back also feels fairly comfy, which means Indian customers will be very satisfied even at the rear. So the diesel is predictably the more fun drive, and on mileage too the Arai claim of 23.5 kmpl will impress. I, of course, will independently test that claim soon enough.
Money talk
I expect prices for the Fiesta to stay between Rs8 lakh and Rs10 lakh at launch. Anything higher will kill what looks like a strong contender in the market...anything lower and well, we will all be only too happy, won’t we?
Ford says it’s also worked on keeping maintenance costs on this car over 40% lower than the rivals, while accident repair costs will be nearly 60% lower. This means that Ford is promising the lowest service and parts costs in this class. In fact, Ford will stay aggressive in the market, so expect multiple variants of the Fiesta and, of course, many new launches in the coming months.
Siddharth Vinayak Patankar is the Editor, Auto, NDTV.
Write to Siddharth at roadrunner@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jun 14 2011. 09 31 PM IST