Brian Joss –
The little engine that can: that’s Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost which has won the International Engine of the Year three years in a row (2012 to 2014), and it’s not surprising. A few short years ago the possibility of a 1-litre motor much less mated to an automatic gearbox seemed like something a science fiction writer may have dreamed up.
But today it is a reality and the evidence is in the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend with Powershift, which gives the lie to the old saw that small cars with automatic transmission are not fun to drive.
This one is great fun and I go to either Riebeek Kasteel, Stellenbosch, Hout Bay or Franschhoek and sometimes to Gordon’s Bay, where the routes are sufficiently challenging: hills, the open road, and gridlocked traffic which will give a good indication of a vehicle’s capabilities, with the odd side jaunt to do the shopping. And then I wait for the car to be collected. But I had such a fiesta with the Trend that I drove to Stellenbosch twice, during the week, and my fears about the “little car” keeping up with the thundering traffic on the motorway proved groundless. The turbo-charged engine puts out 92kW at 6 000 rpm, which matches the power of the 1.6-litre Trend model. So less is more and that’s the case with the Fiesta Trend. The engine is perky, it pulls well and seems quicker than the 0-100km/hr in 11.1 seconds that Ford claims.
All you have to do is turn on the ignition, put the gear lever into drive and drive. The Fiesta will do the rest and in spades. The engine-transmission combination does exactly what you ask of it. Press the accelerator pedal and the Fiesta responds with vigour and there’s more than enough vooma left over to overtake without putting yourself or anyone else in danger. Although you can change gears manually by pressing on the toggle-button on the side of shifter, I am not sure why you would want to. I believe if a car has an auto gearbox, manual shifting is pointless. You should just sit back and enjoy the ride. The Trend is also at home in the urban environment and the steering is so light that squeezing into small parking spaces is a breeze. As with all Ford products handling is good, the Fiesta holds the road well, and even at speed around corners I seldom felt I was going to lose it.
Inside, hard plastic is the dominant feature of the dashboard. The figures on the instrument cluster which is lit up by Ford’s signature blue are easy to read. And the Sync infotainment centre with Sony audio system, which is easy to operate, impressed. Ergonomically speaking, the cabin is well designed and all controls are close at hand. The steering wheel , even without a leather covering was comfortable to hold. Build quality was excellent, with not even a squeak or rattle over some of the road corrugations. There is enough space at the front and the rear. On a run to the airport to see visitors back to Johannesburg, there was more than enough room to accommodate the the two very large adults, and a dog , at the back. And the boot held their holiday luggage with ease. Even full loaded with four-up the Trend zipped along the motorway, easily keeping up with the traffic.
Outside not much has change style-wise, except the grille is now more reminiscent of the Aston Martin’s.
Ford claims an average fuel consumption of 5 litres/100km but I used almost 6 litres/100km in a town and country cycle so theoretically you could get 900 km out of the 55-litre tank.
Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, a multifunctional steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, electric windows all round, electrically adjustable side-mirrors, front fog-lights, and 16-inch alloys. There are six airbags, ABS with EBD, emergency brake assist, traction control, stability control, hill-start assist and IsoFix child-seat anchors.
You can also buy a driver assistance pack for about R12 000 which includes active park assist, lane departure warning system and cross-traffic alert, among others.
The Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend with Powershift is fun to drive, it’s comfortable, it’s a “little” car with a big heart and it’s not a fuel guzzler. So what more could you want?
The sticker price is from R209 900.
Ford has added two 1.0 EcoBoost models equipped with the advanced PowerShift automatic transmission to its range, including the entry-level Ambiente.