In 2011 Ford hamstrung the prospects of its all-new mid-size sedan, the Fiesta, with an overly optimistic price tag. It’s not that the Fiesta wasn’t a competent machine; far from it. However, the high price only served to highlight its shortcomings. It didn't have the best back seat, it had the least powerful engine, and the quality of interiors wasn’t up to scratch either. Later corrections to the price did little to revive consumer interest. Now, Ford is ready to revive the Fiesta’s fortunes once again with a facelift and hopefully a price that dovetails with the abilities of the new car too.
Head turning, that’s what the new Fiesta is. The changes to the car’s body are limited, but create a big impact. The huge trapezoidal air dam that dominated the Fiesta’s face has morphed into the striking hexagonal grille, reminiscent of what you'll see on most Aston Martins. The five slim chrome bars add a bit of panache to this aggressive design. Lower down, there are slimmer air dams that extend the trapezoidal theme a bit further, and the sporty look is accentuated by cutouts in which the fog lamps are housed. But it isn’t just the plastic parts that have been changed. Sheetmetal changes include the bonnet, which has a subdued power bulge running down the centre. It has also been redesigned to accommodate the all-new headlamps. New multi-spoke alloy wheels are also offered on the Titanium variant. The rear too has been treated to a mix of new sheet metal and plastic parts. The tail-lamps and the bumpers have been lightly redesigned for a bolder stance, and the boot looks crisper with a lip to accentuate the sportiness and streamline airflow. The redesign has resulted in a three percent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency.
On the inside Ford has tried to improve the perceived quality. A new glossy black trim for the centre console on this Titanium trim and contrasting beige seats do improve the ambience of the cabin, and the equipment levels have gone up as well. Ford’s latest voice-operated Sync system has been incorporated in the Fiesta with new features that include Emergency Assistance and AppLink. Like in the EcoSport the Emergency Assistance dials emergency responders in case of an accident, while AppLink, which makes its India debut on the Fiesta facelift, allows certain apps from your phone to display relevant information on the car’s infotainment system. New features on the top-end variant include automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors. However, there have been no structural changes, so the back seat experience is still hampered by the low-set seat and poor leg room.
In a bid to simplify its line-up, Ford is introducing the Fiesta facelift with only the diesel engine, as diesels account for 70 percent of the segment. Mechanically, there has been no change to the 1.5-litre DuraTorq motor, but with improvements in drivetrain and aero efficiency, the company-claimed fuel efficiency has increased to 25.01kpl, second only to the Honda City i-DTEC’s 26kpl in this segment. On the road, the 90bhp, 1.5-litre motor is familiar to drive. There is a fair bit of turbo lag under 1,800rpm, but thereafter power builds in a smooth manner. With further revisions to the chassis Ford has tried to improve the already impressive refinement levels.
The Fiesta remains a sweet car to steer; the electric steering is light at low speeds and weighs up accurately as you go faster. The Fiesta’s suspension also remains as impressive as ever, with an uncanny ability to glide over bumps, while still maintaining great poise out on the highway. Straightline stability is simply outstanding. The Fiesta’s stiff body also provides great insulation from engine, road, suspension and tyre noise.
So the Fiesta remains a capable mid-size sedan that is best enjoyed from behind the wheel. Ford intends to position this as a premium sedan that appeals to enthusiasts, but with a competitive price tag. Apart from the one-engine line-up, Ford has also pared down the variant list considerably. The mid-level Style and top-end Titanium+ variants have been done away with, while the Ambiente, Trend and Titanium versions remain. The Ambiente trim will make the Fiesta more accessible than before. Sure, the Fiesta won't end up wooing those looking for the perfect all-rounder, but those looking for something more striking and more enjoyable to drive, the Fiesta has never looked more attractive.
With the facelift, Ford has added a lot of appeal to the Fiesta. The sporty design is clearly one of the best in this class, and the interiors too feel better in terms of finish and equipment. However, it still isn’t close to being the best equipped car in the segment, missing out on things like a rear-view camera, leather upholstery and a sunroof.
The mechanical package is familiar and the Fiesta continues to impress with its dynamics. However, the diesel engine's bottom-end remains a weak point, and the back seat space is tight too. Ford is hoping to attract the enthusiasts, and so it is a pity that the petrol motor isn’t on offer now. The facelifted Fiesta will be a great option for those looking for a diesel sedan and who intend to drive themselves, rather than the chauffeur-driven lot.
Ford Fiesta facelift prices
Ambiente: Rs 7.69 lakh
Trend: Rs 8.55 lakh
Titanium: Rs 9.29 lakh