Pricing: From R261 900
I’ve made a lot of noise about the incredible new VW Polo, going as far as saying that it’s top on my list if I decide to buy a new car. But now my choice is a lot tougher with the arrival of the all new brilliant Ford Fiesta, launched a few weeks ago in the North West. Oh how fickle is the heart of a motoring journo.
It’s no secret that internationally the Fiesta is a gold mine for Ford. It’s the top selling car in the UK, with more than 4.5 million vehicles sold since it launched in Europe three decades ago. Locally it first hit our showrooms in 1997, and it’s been flying off the sales charts ever since.
It’s clear that up-market and fun is Ford’s Fiesta strategy with the previous generation entry level Ambiante out of the new trimmed down line-up. There are five models on offer with either Trend or Titanium trim levels. The Fiesta comes in petrol – the award-winning EcoBoost 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol (in auto and manual) – and for diesel heads, there’s the 1.5-turbodiesel available only in manual.
The new eighth generation Fiesta has undergone a major inside job. There are seriously impressive upgrades in technology, safety, comfort and overall refinement, while substantial mechanical changes, with better insulation, a stiffer body structure and improved suspension, all make the Fiesta one helluva contender against the Polo.
Thankfully the infotainment system has caught up with the times. Gone are those outdated buttons in the old Fiesta – instead a superb SYNC3 hi-tech system, which incorporates most functions with a high resolution touch screen, comes standard. And that’s where the new Fiesta really impresses. Unlike many of its competitors in the segment, there’s a huge spec list that you won’t have to fork out extra for. The SYNC3 system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to go totally handsfree by mirroring your smartphone. You can even use apps like Spotify to make your Fiesta a mobile party animal by streaming music.
While the exterior remains mostly unchanged, a new design in front and rear lighting gives it an edgier sporty look. Plus there’s increased boot space of 303 litres, which is always good news in a compact hatch. Besides the SYNC3, my favourite feature is the front leather heated sport seats.
I got to drive the automatic Titanium 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol with 92kW and 170Nm, as well as the gobsmackingly frugal Trend 1.5-turbodiesel with 63kW of power and 215Nm of torque (only available in manual). While I was wowed by the 1.0 litre EcoBoost, it was that turbodiesel that tweaked my Polo cheating heart. We’re often sceptical when we read consumption claims – Ford states the diesel figures are 3.3 litres/100km. My driving partner and I comfortably managed an incredible 3.8l/100km.
In Spanish “fiesta” means to party, and though it may rhyme with “siesta” there’s nothing sleepy about this dynamo. It’s little wonder Ford chose to host the launch at The Palace at Sun City, synonymous with good times and luxury. Built in 1992, The Palace still manages to wow with its overpowering architecture, luscious gardens and otherworldly surrounds. A buffet breakfast in the beautiful Chrystal Court almost turned into a full day culinary fiesta.
After a challenging 2017, this year looks set to be a packed-with-great-product year for Ford with the much-anticipated launches of the new Figo, Focus, Ecosport and Kuga. My bet is on the Fiesta for record-breaking sales.