What is it?
Whatever the parlous state of Ford’s European balance sheet – a document best avoided by accountants of a nervous disposition – the flow of new cars wearing Blue Oval badges continues unabated. Next up, at the end of the year, comes a refreshed Fiesta, which gets far more than the usual mid-term spruce-up.
The headline act is the introduction of Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine in 99bhp or 123bhp guise. This three-cylinder, direct-injection turbocharged engine has been cropping up all over the place since Ford slotted it into the Focus, and it’s destined to find a home in a lot more models yet.
The Fiesta is the smallest and lightest car it has appeared in so far. With the more powerful of the two engines you have a power-to-weight ratio of almost 113bhp per tonne, which eclipses what’s on offer in anything else in the Fiesta range – at least until the 180bhp ST arrives next spring.
What's it like?
Ecoboost is more about plateau-like torque delivery rather than outright power, hence its suitability for such a wide range of models. Here it doles out a constant 126lb ft from 1400rpm to 4500rpm, with an extra 22lb ft available on overboost for bursts of up to 30 seconds to shorten overtaking times.
It’s possible to drive almost anywhere in third gear from little more than walking pace, and there’s no need for more than five forward gears, despite leggy gearing in top. This is a major contributor to the diesel-like claimed economy and emissions of 65.7mpg and 99g/km, along with engine stop-start and brake energy recovery.
Ford describes the combination of the Ecoboost engine and Fiesta chassis as the best pairing since Lennon and McCartney. They certainly bring the best out of each other. The springs and dampers have been tuned to suit the modest mass of the three-pot motor and there’s now less friction and better off-centre response from the electrically assisted steering.
None of this changes the almost telepathic communication between car and driver. Approach a corner, size it up and without seeming to do much you’re around and scooting off in search of the next. That alone sets the Fiesta apart from most other superminis, but the fact that this is accompanied by a supple ride and, now, reduced road noise puts it in a class of one.