New Fiesta must prove a point

Back in 1998, Ford’s small city car, the Fiesta, won the coveted South African Car of the Year competition. It was an epic year in the small car’s history, and though it never repeated its 1998-success, it remained a strong product in Ford’s model line-up here in South Africa.

Fast-forward some two decades since that victory and Ford has just launched the newest Fiesta in Mzansi. Looking markedly different than the outgoing model, the new Fiesta has to do battle against the likes of the market leader: the Volkswagen Polo. On face-value it would seem that Ford has put enough in the Fiesta’s arsenal to make it a strong contender for segment honours, so here is what buyers can expect.

Ford is launching the Fiesta with three engines, two of which are petrol and one diesel. The petrol derivatives are both powered by Ford’s award-winning 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. That’s right, this engine has been named International Engine of the Year for six years running, which shows that the Blue Oval has done something right.

The engine has two power outputs for Trend and Titanium models, with Trend developing 74kW/170Nm and Titanium 92kW/170Nm. In both cases the car can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

A 1.5-litre diesel engine that produces 63kW/175Nm is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. And to save fuel, all engines are fitted with stop/start technology and Eco mode.

Ford has improved the layout of its new Fiesta’s fascia by fitting touchscreens on all models, but the size of the screen will depend on the derivative you choose. On Trend models that screen is 6.5-inches in size, while in Titanium it increases to 8-inches. However, the screen fitted to the Titanium models feature satellite navigation in addition to Ford’s SYNC3.

SYNC3 is Ford’s answer to hands-free driving whereby drivers, or users, can control audio and navigation with voice controls. Though it still needs to be launched in the Middle East and Africa, SYNC3 is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Bluetooth and USB connectivity are standard, but Trend models have to make due with a six-speaker setup as opposed to the Titanium’s higher-quality seven-speaker system.

The new Ford Fiesta is priced between R261 900 and R310 600, but it offers substantially more kit at the price than its nearest rival: the Polo. For what the Ford offers, consumers have to fork out quite a bit more to have their new Polo’s specced similarly. Also included in the price is a four-year/60 000km service plan and four-year/120 000km warranty.

Ford might just have another winner on its hands.