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The Mercury Cars Guide : January 31st 2009
6— CARSguide Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, January 31, 2009 Ford’s Fiesta a future star INSIDE INFO Ford Fiesta CL Price: $15,750 Engine: 1.6-litre four cylinder with fuel injectionand variable camshaft timing Power:88kW/6000revs Torque:152Nm/4050revs Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive Body: Five-door hatchback Seats: Five Fuel consumption: Average ontest 8.3litres/100km BABY FORD: The Euro-derived Focus is more than a basic box. Whenthenewheadof Ford Australia landedfrom Europehepromised big things in small cars. Paul Goverspoke tohim F ORD Australia’s new head Marin Burela be- lieves it is imports and the global Focus that will be built here from 2011 which are the real key to the future success of the blue oval Down Under. The first time we met, at the Paris Motor Show, Burela pointed to the all-new Fiesta on the Ford stand and promised it would be a future star—he was right. The baby Ford is as good as it gets in the compact class, with great looks and a driving experi- ence that is way beyond the bargain-basement bumblers which do most of the $15,000-ish showroom business in Australia. The new Fiesta is priced from $15,750 yet delivers a premium drive, even as a basic five-door CL. There are a few shortcuts and we are not happy that buyers have to pay an extra $1000 for a full set of airbags and ESP stability control. But that is the way things work in the light-car class and even the benchmark Toyota Yaris fails to deliver all the safety standards that buyers should expect in 2009. The new Fiesta is part of a new global product push by Ford that is doing the job the keeping the company profitable and success- ful in Europe and beyond, despite all the troubles athomein the US. It has just been joined by the latest Ka, which is not looking good for Australia, and the next Focus is also coming up fast. If it looks familiar it’s partly LIFESTYLE CARS A 2008 Mazda Dinkie is the must see vehicle at Lifestyle Cars. This five-speed manual hatch- back has had one owner and has travelled 10,000km. Price is $19,990. MOTORS MOTORS has a sharp deal avail- able on a 2008 Jeep Wrangler Sport with 13,000km on the clock. It has solar yellow paint, a soft and hard top, MP3/CD player, nudge bar with driving lights and alloys. A $2000 minimum trade-in special deal ends soon. CO-OP CO-OP has a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer wagon for $17,990. The 2.4-litre automatic has covered 43,000km. CHEEP: Motors’ 2008 Jeep. used cars because it has an under-the-skin link to the Mazda2, which shares many of its key components and engineering thinking. But what makes the Fiesta so good—as I have come to expect from imported Fords — is the focus on driving enjoyment. The car is more than just a basic box for city commuting and that is always welcome. The Fiesta range is the usual run of three- and five-door hatches with a standard 1.6-litre engine, two airbags and anti-skid brakes. But the automatic only gets a 1.4 in the nose to hold the torque back to the level of the self-shifter gearbox. Prices open at $15,750, which is about right in 2009 with every- thing new on the import line heading for exchange-rate rises, and goes up to $22,490 for the loaded Zetec auto. Standard equipment is good, with air-con and CD sound and power steering and the rest, although the big spend brings the predictable upgrades to alloy rims and upmarket sound and an airbag package including protec- tion for the driver’s knees. ‘‘The all-new Fiesta will be the hottest property in the light car segment,’’ says Burela. He is probably right and the car should be a huge hit with the young women who are Ford’s primary target. But the company still has to prove it can convert quality cars into the sort of sales which have Toyota looking over its shoulder. DRIVING The new Fiesta is a tight little package. It looks good, has a quality feel, and drives as good or better than anything in its price and size class. For my money, it’s the bench- markandis genuinely better than the Toyota Yaris which leads light-car sales in Australia. The new Fiesta is even better than the first model I drove in Australia. That means it is very, very good. There are peoplewhowill say it is just a Mazda2 with a Ford badge but that is not right and it undervalues the work done by Ford of Europe engineers on the way their baby feels and drives. Benchmarked against the latest 2, which is up at the top of the class with the Honda Jazz, the Fiesta feels more substantial, moreplanted,andmoreenjoyable to drive. Thestyling of the Fiesta reflects the blue oval’s latest direction, with a shape that cuts through traffic and a cabin which is stylish and quality for the class. I’m not a fan of the extra- window look at the bottom of the windscreen pillar, even though it improves visibility, but it moves the car away from the 2 and is typical of a lot of Euro new- comers. The dash is well designed and the controls are good to use, with a mini computer for sound con- trols, although there was an an- noying squeak in the test car which was impossible to trace. Running through the basics, the seats are comfy and suppor- tive, the gearshift is light and direct, the power steering is good and the car is fairly easy to park. It’s a bit pinched for rear vision, and there is no radar park assist in the CL starter, but it is fine at the supermarket. The boot is about average for the class, but nothing special, and the back seat is really only for two adults. I also found the CL steer- ing wheel a strange shape and feel and some of the finishing work— on things like the carpet in the boot — shows Ford has been pushing hard to restrain its costs. But drive the Fiesta and you forget any minor niggles. It gets along crisply, has great cornering grip and balance and feels as meaty and planted as anything under $20,000. There is road noise from the tyres on some coarse surfaces, a common complaint on a lot of Euro cars, but that is the only thing to fault in the dynamic package. The brakes are good, the headlamps are fine, and it feels as if it will stay tough for the long run. Up against its rivals, the Fiesta is not as clever as the Jazz or as edgy as the Mazda2 and the Yaris is just the Yaris and the default choice for a lot of Toyota fans. But it is the best car in the class and the one that everyone should drive before they buy.
January 10th 2009
February 7th 2009