What is it?
This is the Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi, Ford’s greenest Fiesta. It would be easy to compare the Ford Fiesta Econetic unfavourably with the Ford Fiesta 1.6 Zetec S, but in many ways the 89bhp turbodiesel Econetic is at least as impressive an engineering achievement.
The concept behind the Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi is very similar to that of the VW Polo BlueMotion, Seat Ibiza Ecomotive or even the original eco-supermini, the Audi A2. The gearing of the five-speed gearbox is taller, the tyres have lower rolling resistance (though don’t run at a higher pressure), the engine is retuned for greater fuel efficiency, and a few accessories around the car are sacrificed to save weight.
All this combines to bring the Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi in at 98g/km of CO2, the lowest figure for any family car on sale in the UK. It also means it now lacks a spare wheel.
What’s it like?
The outward similarity of the Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi to the rest of the class disguises a few notable differences. For instance, The Fiesta Econetic has a split rear bench, unlike the Ibiza.
The most important difference, however, is the superior ride and handling. It’s taken as read that the ride and handling of these eco-tweaked cars suffer due to the stiffer tyres. This also applies to the Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi. But what singles the Fiesta Econetic out is that its abilities were so much better to begin with.
It’s possible to twist the wheel and fling the Fiesta Econetic into corners in a way that you simply can’t with any of its competitors. Turn-in compares pretty well with the hotter ends of the Polo or Ibiza ranges.
What about the Fiesta Econetic’s economy? An average of 50mpg on a high-speed motorway trip is useful, though by no means exceptional for a 1.6 diesel. The lack of a sixth gear stops it from being truly competitive at higher speeds.
What was really revealing was the Fiesta Econetic’s ability to cross London in rush hour at 50mpg – well, 49.8mpg. Over a distance of about 100 miles there was never a time when I felt that I could not keep up with the traffic or had to change my normal driving style to cope with lower levels of grip.
Should I buy one?
If you want an economical, overtly green supermini, but don’t want to sacrifice driving enjoyment, then the Ford Fiesta Econetic is peerless. The only reservation I have is the lack of standard-fit air conditioning, which is merely a detail at this time of year, but would be irritating in the summer.