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2013 Ford Fiesta Review: Trend and Ambiente Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | Sep, 01 2013 | 2 Comments

2013 FORD FIESTA REVIEW

What’s Hot: Excellent handling, fattened standard spec sheet
What’s Not: Five-speed manual is old-hat
X-FACTOR: Always good buying and fun to drive, one of the best light cars is now better.

Vehicle Style: Light hatchback
Engine/trans: 82kW/140Nm 1.5 petrol 4cyl | 5sp manual, 6sp auto
Price: $15,825 (Fiesta Ambiente), $17,825 (Fiesta Trend) plus on-roads.
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8 l/100km (1.5 litre manual and auto)

 

OVERVIEW

Another year, another update for one of the best: Ford’s Fiesta. But this time, Ford has been busy with the spanners.

The new Fiesta comes with new drivetrains for better fuel efficiency and a better drive. It also brings a host of other tweaks to the styling and spec-sheet - a new Aston-aping snout, new wheel designs, tail-lights and minor revisions to interior trim.

And the model badging has changed. The Fiesta now drops the CL, LX and Zetec badges, adopting the Ambiente, Trend and Sport monikers used by the larger Focus.

The entry-level Fiesta Ambiente and mid-grade Fiesta Trend get the first of the two new engines, dropping 100cc to 1.5 litres, while the Fiesta Sport debuts Ford’s 1.0 litre EcoBoost turbo inline-three.

Unfortunately the 1.0 litre EcoBoost wasn’t available to drive at the launch of the MY14 Fiesta range, however our first taste of the Ambiente and Trend was a positive one - especially where handling is concerned.

 

THE INTERIOR

This is pretty much the same interior that we all know, but with changes to the front seat cushioning and centre stack trim.

A full-colour screen allows the driver to interface with Ford’s Sync infotainment system, although the Fiesta’s button-heavy centre-stack layout carries over.

But although the crowded centre stack remains, Ford’s tweaks to the equipment list mean the Fiesta is now very well kitted out for a $15k+ light car.

All models have cruise control, power rear windows and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A USB input is standard too, and Ford Sync enables Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, as well as voice-activated commands.

Seven airbags are standard too, encompassing dual front, dual front side, full-length curtain and a driver’s knee bag.

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However the Fiesta gets low marks for its rock-hard black plastic dashboard and the absence of reach adjustment for the steering column. It’s not as premium-feeling an interior as many of its competitors, that’s for sure.

But it is comfortable. The front seats are a little high, but there’s ample headroom.

Rear seat accommodation is fine too. Comfort-wise, the only let-down is the lack of reach-adjustable steering.

 

ON THE ROAD

The old 1.6 litre is gone, replaced by a downsized 1.5 litre engine that has 7kW less power and 11Nm less torque, for a total of 82kW and 140Nm.

It feels weaker in the midrange, but is still more than adequate for a light car. Being naturally-aspirated it does its best work at high revs, but is quite content to tick over at 2600rpm on a flat highway cruise.

The quest to improve fuel economy prompted Ford’s decision to downsize, and although it’s been done at the expense of power and torque the claimed average of 5.8 l/100km is 0.3 l/100km better than the outgoing 1.6 litre.

More impressive, though, is the work done to the suspension.

Ford’s ride and handling engineers in Europe have extensively re-worked the Fiesta’s undercarriage to improve roadholding, with new shock absorber tunes, improved front bump-stops and a 15 percent stiffer front anti-roll bar.

The electronic power steering has been re-tuned to match, and all Fiestas roll on grippy Continental tyres. The result is a car that’s an absolute delight to pilot.

It hangs on tenaciously in hard corners, and though there’s an abundance of body roll it never loses its composure over mid-corner bumps.

Hard direction changes don’t unsettle it either, and the electric power steering is responsive and reasonably communicative.

Encounter some pockmarked or washboard-like surfaces, and the Fiesta is soft enough to smooth it all out. It’s no Rolls-Royce, but the Fiesta’s suspension tune definitely strikes the right balance between ride comfort and handling.

The five-speed manual is easy enough to get used to, but could use a sixth gear to maximise the engine’s performance and eliminate the wide gap between second and third.

The six-speed Powershift twin-clutch automatic is a $2000 option and has the right number of ratios, but isn’t anywhere near as crisp on gearchanges as VW’s DSG ‘boxes.

It does have much better low-speed refinement though, and its shift mapping is intuitive enough to keep the car in the right gear and avoid hunting.

However the manual shift toggle switch is silly, impractical and pointless given the intelligence of the gearbox’s computer. Just stick it in D... or S if you’re gunning it.

 

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT

If you want a stellar drive and don't wish to spend more than $20k, you can’t do much better than the Ford Fiesta.

Don’t let the smaller engine dissuade you - it’s more than tractable enough, and it’s even better when paired with the auto.

Yes, there are some moderate price rises across the board, but the 2014 Fiesta is better-equipped and better value than before. That it’s also an even better car to drive is a nice bonus.

We’re champing at the bit to get behind the wheel of the range-topping EcoBoost-powered Fiesta Sport. That review will need to wait until December as Ford’s Thai plant has yet to finish tooling up for that engine.

For now though, the Fiesta Ambiente and Fiesta Trend do an exceptional job as Ford’s budget entrants.

 

PRICING (excludes on-road costs)

  • Ambiente - 1.5 petrol 5spd manual - $15,825
  • Ambiente - 1.5 petrol 6spd auto - $17,825
  • Trend - 1.5 petrol 5spd manual - $17,825
  • Trend - 1.5 petrol 6spd auto - $19,825
  • Sport - 1.0 petrol 5spd manual - $20,525 (December)
  • Sport - 1.0 petrol 6spd auto - $22,525 (December)
  • ST - 1.6 turbo petrol 6spd manual - $25,990
 

Capped Price Servicing

Km/time

Duratec 1.5-Litre

EcoBoost
1.6-Litre

15,000/12 months

$245

$245

30,000/24 months

$275

$270

45,000/36 months

$245

$245

60,000/48 months

$375

$405

75,000/60 months

$245

$245

90,000/72 months

$275

$270

105,000/86 months

$245

$245

Every retail or small business vehicle serviced at a participating Authorised Ford Dealer under myFord Capped Price Servicing is also covered by a renewal of myFord Standard Roadside Assistance from the logbook service date (RRP $90) for 12 months or until the date of the next myFord Capped Price Service, whichever comes first.

 
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