With its level of refinement and ride quality, the Ford Fiesta could bid for the next category. But the penny-pinching subcompact segment would be left poorer for it.
I settled down, shifted, and settled down again in the refined cabin of the Fiesta – but the air of disbelief around me did not. I flexed the steering sharply, thumped my feet hard – first to add speed and then to kill it abruptly. Nothing seemed to shake up the Fiesta. Neither the ride nor the refinement really belonged to the category I was testing it for.
A long-forgotten story from my school days gushed out faster than the gasoline in the Fiesta’s fuel-conscious four-turbine engine. Somewhere between childhood and adolescent ambition – between baby fat and bulging biceps – there was a time when competing in the next level of weightlifting contests was worth adding a few pounds for. My macho friends used to employ a little trick for instant gratification. They would fill their lean and hungry tummies with bananas and jugs of water just to qualify them for the next weight category.
Ford Fiesta seems to have done just that – actually quite the opposite – to qualify entry into the affordable compact cars segment. The car has shed quite a bit of its bulky price tag and peripheral trims for its base version to squeeze in here. But I’m glad it did – for the compact cars segment would have been much poorer without it!
The AED 72,000 price tag to the Titanium version I drove is no excuse to be apologetic about the best in class drive quality of the 2012 Ford Fiesta. Take a few trims off – like the ESP, the Cruise Control, keyless start, parking sensors, the fog lamps… – and the price takes a dip by a neat 14 grand but the comfort and finesse remain a benchmark for compacts.
Poised on its 16” alloys, the Fiesta offers tons of traction while cornering, changing lanes or negotiating roundabouts. The car connects to the driver with reassuring feedback and yet dampens the malicious intentions of dips or bumps on the road, while its efficient stability system keeps out wheel-spin and doodling drives. In its 2012 version, the Fiesta makes life easier for the driver with a full Electric Power Assist Steering and blind spot detection side-mirrors as standard.
Even for a compact car, 95 bhp isn’t much and in the Fiesta, it tapered out on top gear after a while. However, slipping to the 4-speed manual for an instantly rewarding response saved the day with excellent passing acceleration on Sheikh Zayed Rd.
The shamaal winds were still crossing the highways and the Fiesta’s aerodynamics seemed to be just fine for such a day. Not a whimper; not a slip. But for the part that it doesn’t pick up as quickly as you would like it to, there are few cars in its lane that can beat the stability and composure of its drive.
The Ford Fiesta continues to impress with its 2008 makeover. With a squatting frame, a sweeping top, and a stylish rear lip spoiler – somewhat like a golf cap flipped backwards – the Fiesta is dressed for a sporty day out. Elegantly curved fender arches mated with distinct shoulder lines make the Fiesta unmistakably design rich. As in the Kia Rio, the quarter-glass built into the A-pillar frames is more of a design touch rather than anything useful.
Cabin and Controls
The textured soft touch upper deck and the glossy grey console and paneling with just a hint of fabric exude elegance, while the six-speaker music fiesta is undoubtedly the best in the cabins of its class. It’s not a silent cabin but strangely, the wind noise and road noise didn’t seem to be as intrusive as with many others – should be due to the specially laminated windshield that Ford claims to be a class-exclusive! But the glasshouse occasionally passed on the warmth of the noon, urging me to turn up the blower a bit.
The leather seats are amply supportive and the leather-clad steering is just the right size – small enough and taut enough to be even seen as sporty! Of all things soft and nice about the cabin, what impressed me most is the shifter, which is precise yet responsive to the gentlest purposeful grip.
While I would be justified to expect a sunroof in place for the price, what I truly missed were a console armrest and rear cabin lights – conspicuously absent in a cabin laudable for its detailing, with even coat hanger clips in place.
At the time we bought our pram – it’s the mother of all strollers – we never thought it would be this useful as a measure of boot space. The Fiesta managed to make space for it, though only when turned on its side. However, once the rear passengers take their seat, for the first time in the car, “enough and more” shifts to “not quite enough” – not so much in the ability to accommodate three in a row as in providing headroom and legroom comfort.
On the other hand, it’s comforting to learn that, the Ford Fiesta has added plenty of ultra-high strength aluminized Boron steel in the pillars so as to retain their shape in the event of a collision. With safety features like ABS and two airbags even in the base version (Titanium has side and knee protection as well) the Fiesta that reaches our shores hails from Germany and has a high Euro N-cap safety rating.
A class apart
Often during the drive, I was left wondering if I chose the wrong Ford for a comparative review among subcompacts. But then, the Figo or the Focus wouldn’t match up in size with the other cars that made the list – despite the fact that the Fiesta Titanium costs exactly the same as a Focus Trend. But that’s Ford’s problem if you want to pay the same money for more space and more power with a sunroof thrown in!
On the other hand, if the “best-in-class” supermini is what you want your parking lot to flaunt, and believe that cruise control puts you to sleep or leather is much less fun, then, saving yourself the interest for an extra ten or fifteen grand in auto loans and sticking to the ample comfort of a lower-end Fiesta should still count as the best-in-hand idea!
UPSIDE: Inspiring cabin refinement, ABS and 2 airbags as standard, New Blind spot detection mirror, Responsive full electric power steering, Excellent ride quality
FLIPSIDE: Cramped feeling in the rear, Torquey fun lacking, Absence of console armrest, Cost threshold
Drive courtesy: Al Tayer Motors
Pictue courtesy: Sudeep Koshy