What is it?
It’s a Fiesta with more horsepower per litre than a Bugatti Veyron. That’s what you need to tell your friends when they ask why your sporty new Fiesta only has a 1.0-litre engine.
That doesn’t explain to them why Ford couldn’t paint the whole car the same colour, mind. That’s explained by this being the Fiesta Red Edition, or Black Edition, depending on which you prefer. Colours aside they’re the same, and effectively replace the old 1.6-litre Zetec S in the line-up.
We liked the Fiesta Zetec S 1.6 at Autocar. We ran one for a year and, absence of a 6th gear aside, found it a delight to spend serious amounts of time in, with a deft blend of ride and handling. A Mountune kit gave that 1.6 Fiesta a full 138bhp. Now, the new 1.0 makes the same as standard.
What's it like?
The harder, faster Fiesta ST has been nicking most of the limelight recently, but the Zetec S’s warmness gave it much to like before. It was pleasingly compliant around town and at motorway speeds, yet it retained just the right amount of body control on back roads, with keen steering to complete the package.
Sensibly, then, Ford hasn’t messed with the chassis too much for this edition. As in: it hasn’t at all. The Red/Black’s Sport suspension, like the Zetec S’s, sits 10mm lower than standard, with springs that are 12 per cent stiffer than standard at the front, and six per cent stiffer at the rear. The rear’s relative lack of stiffening over the front is compensated by an 11 per cent stiffer torsion beam than the regular Fiesta’s – which is a pretty good car to drive in cooking form too, remember.
Then there’s the steering, which offers “greater torque build up” - or is heavier, to you and me - to feed back information through the rim in shoutier fashion. Wheels are 16in alloys as standard, with 17in alloys (as fitted to our test car) an option.
The chassis, and an engine that’s around 35kg lighter than the 1.6, make the Red/Black Edition cars a real pleasure to drive. If the ST is just a bit too firm for you (and I could understand if your daily grind made it so), the Red/Black retain some of the essential qualities. It’s an agile car, with good turn in and responses, pleasing steering weight, speed and accuracy, and a willingness to be steered on the throttle in the way that Fords do.