REVIEW DATE: 19 Sep 2008
The 1.6 TDCi engine is asked to fulfil divergent roles in the latest Ford Fiesta but is it up the challenge? Steve Walker reports
The key strength of the 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine in Ford's Fiesta is its fuel economy with 67mpg possible in the standard car and 76mpg in the ECOnetic version. The rest of the Fiesta package is outstanding with an involving driving experience and striking looks being the standout qualities.
Modern superminis need to speak to a broad section of the motoring populace. No other model classification pitches itself more directly into the car market's mainstream and in order to succeed, a wide range of engines and trim levels is an absolute must. Ford's Fiesta fits the bill with a diverse line-up of trim levels giving rise to derivatives that prioritise luxury, sportiness and economy. What's unusual is that the 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine is offered with all of them.
This diesel engine looks to have its work cut out. Successfully providing the power for the Fiesta's most economical model while also doing the business in its sportiest and most luxurious guises seems an impossible mission but Ford's engineers obviously think it's up to the task. The acid test will be whether or not the car buying public concurs.
We're concentrating on Ford's 1.6-litre TDCi Duratorq common-rail diesel engine here. It develops 89bhp at 4,000rpm and 204Nm maximum torque at 1,750rpm. Performance isn't blistering with 11.9 seconds needed to cover the 0-62mph sprint and the car topping out at 109mph. What you do get is relatively strong mid-range pulling power where the engine's torque is on song. Is this a unit you'd go out of your way to install in your sporty supermini? Probably not, but the latest Fiesta is such a slick piece of engineering that it largely masks the deficiency in outright pace with its poise and fluency on the road. This is a fine handling car with its variable power assisted steering providing weighty reassurance at speed and a light touch when manoeuvring. The suspension absorbs bumps expertly and the firmer set-up in the Zetec-S model makes for a really lively drive without damaging ride comfort.
On start-up, the 1.6-litre TDCi grumbles a little vociferously but get some heat in to the engine and it quietens down. It's still not the most refined diesel of its size and it doesn't respond as readily as it could do to the throttle but given the power that's available, it does a good job. The Fiesta provides a huge degree of adjustment in its driving position and even lankier individuals will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. The gearchange is a fraction rubbery but very positive in its action and pleasant to use. Forward visibility is fine but the small rear window and thick C-pillars can present a problem when reversing.
"The driving experience sets the standard in this competitive sector.."
All Fiestas share Ford's 'Kinetic' design. Themes as seen on the Mondeo, S-MAX, Focus and others are put to work again but the signature features seem to gain cohesion in closer proximity on a smaller car. The eye is led along the creases, across the cutaway surfaces and the multi-angular effect is highly dynamic in total. The sporty Zetec-S model tags on a substantial rear spoiler, a body kit and 16" alloy wheels while the Titanium adds chrome detailing for the exterior and some classier trim materials inside. The economical ECOnetic has its own look with lowered suspension and aerodynamic tweaks but the same wedgy appeal is common across the range. The interior reprises the edgy and angular themes of the outside, the fascia contrasting soft-touch materials with hard silvery plastics. The car feels modern and is very nicely executed in terms of quality with a pronounced modern feel.
The wedge-effect of the Fiesta in profile doesn't bode well for the rear seat passengers in the three-door car but the Fiesta surprises with decent legroom and headroom that's manageable even for a six-footer. The windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant in the back but the shopping bags, coats and road atlases that owners will store there most of the time won't be overly worried. The five door models fair better with a bigger glass area creating a roomier feel and all derivatives share the same easily navigable control system for their various electronic functions.
The 89bhp 1.6 TDCi Fiestas present a wide array of choice, the engine being offered in economical ECOnetic guise as well as with Zetec, Zetec-S or plush Titanium trim. Zetec is the affordable sporty option with this engine and is predicted to account for fully 35% of total Fiesta sales. It comes with 15" alloy wheels, front fog lights, a chrome grille and a mild body kit as well as the CD stereo, central locking and electric windows you get on all models. It also gets the excellent Quickclear heated windscreen.
The Zetec-S models miss out on the heated windscreen but add bigger alloys, sports suspension and a more aggressive body kit. Pick a Titanium and there's a generally more luxurious feel with climate control, cruise control, automatic headlamps and automatic wipers while the ECOnetic simply concentrates on maximising fuel economy and wider costs through a number of clever modifications.
89bhp might not fire the imagination of performance nuts but the flipside is some pretty spectacular economy from the 1.6 TDCi. Even in standard guise, the engine can return 67.3mpg with 110g/km which, you might think, doesn't really give the ECOnetic version anywhere to go. You'd be wrong because with its enhanced aerodynamics, low rolling resistance tyres and unique engine calibration, the Fiesta ECOnetic can return an outstanding 76.3mpg on the combined cycle with 99g/km emissions of CO2.
The environmental performance of the Fiesta is aided across the board by the fact that despite being larger and feeling more substantial than the previous generation car, this model is actually 40kg lighter. This was achieved through a painstaking process where tiny amounts of weight were shaved from each individual part in turn to produce this significant overall saving.
Can the 1.6 TDCi diesel engine stretch its 89bhp power output to do a worthwhile job in the diverse range of Ford Fiesta models it must serve? Available in the efficient ECOnetic model, sporty Zetec forms and as a luxurious Titanium, the engine looks to have been spread fairly thinly by the Blue Oval's product planners. In reality, it does sterling work in the super efficient ECOnetic and makes a fine choice in the Titanium. The Zetec-S models do expose the TDCi engine's lack of power but overall, the Fiesta package is so enjoyable from a driver's perspective that you feel it could still raise a smile with a lawnmower engine plumbed in.
The 1.6 TDCi Fiestas don't set new standards in terms of refinement and performance is quite modest but in most other respects, they are outstanding cars. Spacious, well-built and innovatively designed, they give rival superminis something to think about, while the driving experience sets the standard in this competitive sector.
The results below show the top FIESTA deals on buyacar
|Ford Fiesta 1.0 Titanium 5dr hatchback|
|Price £12,453||Save £2,592|
|Ford Fiesta 1.25 82 Zetec 3dr hatchback|
|Price £10,595||Save £2,150|
|Ford Fiesta 1.25 82 Zetec 5dr hatchback|
|Price £11,079||Save £2,266|
|Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec 5dr hatchback|
|Price £11,887||Save £2,458|
|Ford Fiesta 1.4 Zetec 3dr hatchback|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT FIESTA DEALS|
|For FIESTA 1.6 TDCI|
|OVERALL||7.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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