From £12,7158
Battery boost brings small but meaningful economy gains to Ford's stellar supermini
Tom Morgan, deputy digital editor
9 October 2020

What is it?

Ford's electrification efforts may not kick into high gear until the 2021 launch of the Mustang Mach-e, but it continues to add mild-hybrid power to its model line-up in the meantime.

The Fiesta is the latest to receive battery assistance, joining the Puma and Focus with a 48V architecture that promises to bring modest fuel and emissions savings to the (already rather efficient) 1.0-litre three-pot Ecoboost petrol engine. 

It's a familiar set-up, with a belt-driven starter motor feeding in extra torque courtesy of a small lithium ion battery that relies entirely on regenerative braking to charge itself. This combination cuts down on turbo lag, lets the stop/start system activate while coasting below 15mph and makes acceleration that little bit peppier. It has also allowed Ford to add a larger turbocharger and lower the engine's compression ratio, for what it claims are 5% efficiency gains over a non-hybrid engine.

The battery introduces only a minor weight penalty, so performance remains largely unchanged, with 0-62mph in 9.4sec and a top speed of 126mph. There's a slightly nippier 153bhp version that dips under nine seconds, but neither can be had with an automatic transmission.

Mild-hybrid power arrives as part of a wider update for 2020, which sees all Fiestas with Cross Traffic Alert gain active braking, and ST-Line models like our test car get a perpendicular park function for the active park assist. The optional B&O Play sound system also has its subwoofer relocated, so you no longer have to choose between banging tunes and a bit more boot space.

What's it like?

Subtle exterior badges aside, there’s little to differentiate this Fiesta from any other version. The presence of a battery makes no impact on rear leg room or luggage capacity, and only a back-to-back drive with the outgoing model would reveal any impact on ride quality caused by the minor weight gain.

The function-over-fashion interior isn't as minimal as some rivals, with plenty of physical buttons and switches instead of everything being relegated to the infotainment touchscreen - but that's hardly a criticism in our book. A new set of icons on the instrument cluster, which highlight when the motor is recuperating energy under braking, or dishing it out under acceleration, are the only clue to what's going on under the bonnet.

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The former is handy, because the Fiesta disguises its regenerative efforts very well indeed. The brakes are a lot less grabby than the ones on Suzuki’s mild-hybrid Swift, gradually stripping off speed and encouraging you to coast from further back as you approach traffic queues - something you’ll need to do frequently if you want to match Ford’s WLTP-tested fuel economy figures. The stop/start system is also very smooth and it's quick to react when it’s time to get moving again.

Electrical assistance arrives from low revs and is blended to match the engine’s torque curve under gentle acceleration, which helps the throttle feel that bit more responsive at slower speeds. It’s not seamless and off-boost acceleration can sometimes be lacking, but only momentarily. Switch to Sport mode and things sharpen up, the battery combining with turbo overboost in the higher gears to make for satisfying progress.

The three-pot retains its thrummy, characterful exhaust note, and the six-speed gearbox has the same slick shift action we’ve come to expect from the Fiesta. Precisely weighted controls inspire confidence and help you make the most of the available power.

It remains just as enjoyable to drive as any other Fiesta, with responsive steering, plenty of grip and a fantastic chassis that rewards keen drivers. And although the 18in alloy wheels fitted to our ST Line X test car do have an impact on ride comfort, only the worst road surfaces properly announce their presence in the cabin.

Should I buy one?

Traditional engine options haven’t been completely stripped from the line-up just yet, so it’s not like anyone set on Fiesta ownership has no choice in the matter. And the efficiency gains, however welcome, are only minor - but this mild-hybrid model now feels like the sweet spot in terms of price and performance.

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A fully equipped Toyota Yaris Launch Edition will set you back slightly less up front and will return better fuel economy, but it lags behind the Ford for interior refinement and driver engagement - as do mild-hybrid alternatives like the Fiat 500 and Suzuki Swift.

A Renault Clio E-tech might come close on the dynamism front, but the Ford should be near the top of the list for keen drivers who are at least considering how to keep their environmental impact in check.

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Comments
31
Add a comment…
si73 10 October 2020

Actually I think nimmler has

Actually I think nimmler has a point, people may well think they're getting something fuel efficient and environmentally friendly due to the hybrid moniker, when in reality it's barely better than the non hybrid version. As said honda was doing similar 20 yrs ago, but theirs could recharge quite competently and negated the need for the turbo, for eg the 1.3 insight had the torque and power of a similar sized car with a 1.6, but with the economy and emissions of the smaller engine, that's why it worked. The ford is already doing that with the downsized turbo, hence why this hybrid makes little difference. In my opinion. Ditch the complicated turbo and electrically boost the 3pot na with a more powerful hybrid to give you the equivalent of the larger capacity engine, like Honda's ima, and it will probably be more efficient with better emissions. Or keep the turbo and ditch the hybrid, as both are doing the same job and negating one another. I'd keep the less complicated and probably more reliable hybrid bit personally.
jason_recliner 10 October 2020

si73 wrote:

si73 wrote:

Actually I think nimmler has a point...

Quite possibly.  I didn't read the post.

catnip 10 October 2020

[quote=si73]Actually I think

[quote=si73]Actually I think nimmler has a point, people may well think they're getting something fuel efficient and environmentally friendly due to the hybrid moniker, when in reality it's barely better than the non hybrid version. /quote]

People do think they're getting 'proper' hybrids with this type of vehicle. One of my colleagues, who is very environmentally conscious was convinced that Suzuki's mild hybrid models were 'real' hybrids when I was saying I preferred a manual gearbox..

Moreover, if you select  "hybrid" in Autotrader's search facility it brings up all these mild hybrids, which I think is very misleading.

MrJ 9 October 2020

Pathetic fuel consumption

Pathetic fuel consumption figures, when you consider my older and bigger Focus (diesel) returns 62-70 mpg, even better on a motorway cruise.

Sulphur Man 9 October 2020

archaic

Maybe, but in urban areas your Ford Focus basically burps clouds of invisible cancer into children's faces. 

The drivetrain of this Fiesta is around 10 years behind Honda and Toyota. The new Jazz seems to be labelled as 'expensive' but its a bigger and far more advanced vehicle than this cobbled-together 'hybrid' Ford. It's also cheaper. And automatic. 

I'm sure the Fiesta is a delightful steer, but where does that really matter anymore? The driving conditions in the UK dont call for spearing around corners. They call for praticality, reliability, good residuals. As an ownership proposition, this is deeply flawed next to the Jazz and Yaris hybrids. 

superstevie 9 October 2020

@sulpherman, the dynamics

@sulpherman, the dynamics matter in terms of marketing and sales, particularly to a younger audience. A Jazz might be a better car in many ways, but it doesn't appeal to the type of people who will buy a Fiesta.

xxxx 9 October 2020

or

superstevie wrote:

A Jazz might be a better car in many ways, but it doesn't appeal to the type of people who will buy a Fiesta.

or anyone with a pulse.

Citytiger 9 October 2020

superstevie wrote:

superstevie wrote:

@sulpherman, the dynamics matter in terms of marketing and sales, particularly to a younger audience. A Jazz might be a better car in many ways, but it doesn't appeal to the type of people who will buy a Fiesta.

I dont think the latest Jazz will appeal to the type of people who buy Jazz's either.. 

nimmler 9 October 2020

YES, SICK of this scam.should be illegal to use the word HYBRID

Sulphur Man wrote:

Maybe, but in urban areas your Ford Focus basically burps clouds of invisible cancer into children's faces. 

The drivetrain of this Fiesta is around 10 years behind Honda and Toyota. The new Jazz seems to be labelled as 'expensive' but its a bigger and far more advanced vehicle than this cobbled-together 'hybrid' Ford. It's also cheaper. And automatic. 

I'm sure the Fiesta is a delightful steer, but where does that really matter anymore? The driving conditions in the UK dont call for spearing around corners. They call for praticality, reliability, good residuals. As an ownership proposition, this is deeply flawed next to the Jazz and Yaris hybrids. 

Yes the early 00’s diesel scam Was a cartel to protect Euro companies from the more fuel efficient Japanese makers by lobbying the EU bureaucrats to change the road tax categories from a cc based one to c02 based which favours low revving diesels thus low road tax unfairly penalising petrol car engine dominant Honda and Toyota . If the EU bureaucrats wasn't so protectionist and corrupt they would add NO x, particulate emissions y’know pollution that actually harms humans into the calculation thus diesels would be found out to be the disgusting black cloud cancer machines that they are and no one would buy them… Back to the car, you are total correct. People whine about the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz for being expensive but they are cheaper than this car and unless you want to set lap records outside your local halfords they are all round superior cars, and because they are REAL hybrids and not fake fancy torque assist bs they get better mpg and lower c02. Heck For this price you could buy a Toyota Corrolla hybrid but autocar and ford fanboys give them a free pass for its shortcomings and joke price, Lastly it should be ILLEGAL for companies to use the world HYBRID in cars like this because it is misleading verging on fraudulent advertising. like the fiat 500 ‘hybrid’ this car is just a normal ice car with a 48v system, beefier start stop motor and electric torque assist similar to what Honda did 20 years go with the 1st gen Insight hybrid . But the big caveat here is that was 20 YEARS AGO! With massive advancements in ev technology there should be a minimum standard for what can be described as a ‘hybrid’ in 2020 My definition on what can use the term hybrid in 2020 uses the Toyota Corolla hybrid as an example;: -drive from 0-50km/h using electric only mode with minimum 50% throttle input -minimum 1 kw/h battery -be able to self charge using regen + ice engine acting as a generator the ford has NON of those features so should not use the term MHEV or Hybrid anywhere in its description or advertising, “fiesta48v fancy start stop torque assist” would be a correct term why don't the so-called journalists aka paid pr mouth pieces actually do their job and call out car makers like ford and fiat for this shady practice because this car should NOT have the word hybrid connected to it, its only an hybrid in name and exists just to lower the companies c02 average by cheating the easily gamed WLTP certification test. In the real world this sub-hybrid system has no uses: -It ONLY recharges during braking so if you rarely use brakes or drive motorway/ long distance commute the hybrid assist does not work at all, also brake regen does not work as efficiently under adverse cold weather conditions so the real world hybrid assist benefit in the UK will be non existent -tiny sub 1 kw/h battery -cannot drive in ev mode, you can use stop stop whilst coasting below 15mph? That is pr spin for “you can use electric coast but only under perfect a laboratory environment , no high beams plus wipers on fastest setting, only works with warm engine temp in a very narrow delta, 1% downhill gradient, if you use less than 10% throttle...” to sum up this wall of text I hate manufactures misleading consumers with the MHEV hybrid cars because it is a scam to trick boomer consumers into thinking they are the same class or have the real world functionality of a REAL hybrid or plug-in hybrid..

jason_recliner 9 October 2020

nimmler wrote:

nimmler wrote:

Sulphur Man wrote:

Maybe, but in urban areas your Ford Focus basically burps clouds of invisible cancer into children's faces. 

The drivetrain of this Fiesta is around 10 years behind Honda and Toyota. The new Jazz seems to be labelled as 'expensive' but its a bigger and far more advanced vehicle than this cobbled-together 'hybrid' Ford. It's also cheaper. And automatic. 

I'm sure the Fiesta is a delightful steer, but where does that really matter anymore? The driving conditions in the UK dont call for spearing around corners. They call for praticality, reliability, good residuals. As an ownership proposition, this is deeply flawed next to the Jazz and Yaris hybrids. 

Yes the early 00’s diesel scam Was a cartel to protect Euro companies from the more fuel efficient Japanese makers by lobbying the EU bureaucrats to change the road tax categories from a cc based one to c02 based which favours low revving diesels thus low road tax unfairly penalising petrol car engine dominant Honda and Toyota . If the EU bureaucrats wasn't so protectionist and corrupt they would add NO x, particulate emissions y’know pollution that actually harms humans into the calculation thus diesels would be found out to be the disgusting black cloud cancer machines that they are and no one would buy them… Back to the car, you are total correct. People whine about the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz for being expensive but they are cheaper than this car and unless you want to set lap records outside your local halfords they are all round superior cars, and because they are REAL hybrids and not fake fancy torque assist bs they get better mpg and lower c02. Heck For this price you could buy a Toyota Corrolla hybrid but autocar and ford fanboys give them a free pass for its shortcomings and joke price, Lastly it should be ILLEGAL for companies to use the world HYBRID in cars like this because it is misleading verging on fraudulent advertising. like the fiat 500 ‘hybrid’ this car is just a normal ice car with a 48v system, beefier start stop motor and electric torque assist similar to what Honda did 20 years go with the 1st gen Insight hybrid . But the big caveat here is that was 20 YEARS AGO! With massive advancements in ev technology there should be a minimum standard for what can be described as a ‘hybrid’ in 2020 My definition on what can use the term hybrid in 2020 uses the Toyota Corolla hybrid as an example;: -drive from 0-50km/h using electric only mode with minimum 50% throttle input -minimum 1 kw/h battery -be able to self charge using regen + ice engine acting as a generator the ford has NON of those features so should not use the term MHEV or Hybrid anywhere in its description or advertising, “fiesta48v fancy start stop torque assist” would be a correct term why don't the so-called journalists aka paid pr mouth pieces actually do their job and call out car makers like ford and fiat for this shady practice because this car should NOT have the word hybrid connected to it, its only an hybrid in name and exists just to lower the companies c02 average by cheating the easily gamed WLTP certification test. In the real world this sub-hybrid system has no uses: -It ONLY recharges during braking so if you rarely use brakes or drive motorway/ long distance commute the hybrid assist does not work at all, also brake regen does not work as efficiently under adverse cold weather conditions so the real world hybrid assist benefit in the UK will be non existent -tiny sub 1 kw/h battery -cannot drive in ev mode, you can use stop stop whilst coasting below 15mph? That is pr spin for “you can use electric coast but only under perfect a laboratory environment , no high beams plus wipers on fastest setting, only works with warm engine temp in a very narrow delta, 1% downhill gradient, if you use less than 10% throttle...” to sum up this wall of text I hate manufactures misleading consumers with the MHEV hybrid cars because it is a scam to trick boomer consumers into thinking they are the same class or have the real world functionality of a REAL hybrid or plug-in hybrid..

Rimmler!

xxxx 9 October 2020

Different types of power

So the 153hp version takes just under 9 seconds to reach 60 but the bigger Golf with less power takes 8.5 and still gets over 50mpg on the WLTP cycle. Oh well, that is progress for you.

Citytiger 9 October 2020

xxxx wrote:

xxxx wrote:

So the 153hp version takes just under 9 seconds to reach 60 but the bigger Golf with less power takes 8.5 and still gets over 50mpg on the WLTP cycle. Oh well, that is progress for you.

Yeah but the Golf is a VW the most corrupt company in the automotive world, and it sits on an ancient platform with ancient engines, was released before it was ready even though its just a facelifted mk7, and expects the buyer to believe its new.. Oh and its so bland you might as well drive round in a washing machine.. You cant even says the quality is that good any more now its filled with cheaper scratchier plastic than a 70's Lada.. but wow look at the touch screen (that every reviewer slates). 

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