The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel
First DriveNew naturally aspirated three-cylinder Fiesta is reputed to match the turbocharged variant's efficiency, but a £500 list price saving may not be enough to
First DrivePunchy three-cylinder Fiesta gets modern dual-clutch automatic transmission; a satisfying and economical small car results
What is it?
Britain's road tax system doesn't reward drivers for choosing the most efficient car possible once below 100g/km. But the EU CO2 range emissions target means there's an incentive for car makers to eek out the last drops of carbon dioxide efficiency from their models. As Britain's best-selling car, the benefits of the greenest Fiesta having its emissions slashed are manifold.
The Fiesta Econetic now emits 87g/km, down from 95g/km and records an official 85.6mpg on the combined cycle. The previous Econetic covered 78.5mpg. The most obvious change is the introduction of automatic start-stop, the first Fiesta to have such a system.
The Fiesta has longer gear ratios for third, fourth and fifth gear with an unchanged final drive. The 1.6-litre TDCi engine has a redesigned injection system with improved eight hole injectors controlled by a more powerful engine management system. The air-conditioning, cooling fan and alternator are all more efficient than the outgoing model.
What's it like?
The result is an engine that feels much the same as the old car. Start up from cold is lumpy, and while vibration is absent, the four-cylinder's thrum is intrusive under load. It's a flexible engine, capable of pulling from fairly low engine speeds. There's enough kick to make untroubled motorway overtakes, but ultimate motorway efficiency and refinement is hampered by the lack of a sixth gear.
Acceleration takes a rather loud 12.9sec, and top speed is rated at 111mph.
Tall tyres aid a cosseting ride, despite the Econetic's lowered suspension, yet it remains the entertaining steer it ever was. It is proof that electric power steering can yield feel and engaging handling.
While we were unable to match the claimed 85.6mpg, a variety of roads harvested an easy 58mpg. A lighter throttle would have pushed above 60mpg with more possible once a few thousand miles are under its wheels.
Econetic models retain the low-roll resistance tyres and aerodynamic undershield and wheel deflectors. The interior is standard Fiesta fare - stylish and well built - and the driving position is as good as any in this class.
Should I buy one?
Like most of its rivals, the Fiesta Econetic isn't cheap to buy. The Edge Econetic is £14,445 - an increase of £300 - while the Titanium model tested costs £16,795.
That the Fiesta's peerless dynamics shine through on such an efficient model is why it remains our favourite supermini.
Ford Fiesta Titanium Econetic 1.6 8v TDCi
Price: £16,795; 0-62mph: 12.9sec; Top speed: 111mph; Economy: 85.6mpg; CO2: 87g/km; Kerbweight: 1100kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyl, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power: 94bhp; Torque: 151lb ft; Gearbox: 5sp manual
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