The Ford Fiesta was introduced to Europe as long ago as 1976 but didn’t follow suit here in Australia until nearly three decades later, in 2004. It is a compact car, currently available as a three- or five-door hatchback and a two- or four-door sedan.
The Fiesta offers one of the most stable and comfortable rides on the market for any car of its class, and it has proved popular since its introduction. The key models available are the LX base model, the luxury Ghia model, the more sporty-looking Zetec, and the XR4.
The year 2006 saw a facelift of sorts for the Fiesta, with some changes to the external body design and some improvements beneath the bonnet, followed by updates in 2009 and again in 2010.
The arrival of the Fiesta in Australia coincided with the introduction of a 1.6-litre DOHC 16V 4-cylinder engine, offered with conventional 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission.
Its chassis was, and remains in the new models, top of its class, providing a level of steering, handling, and ride comfort that is unmatched by almost any of its competition. A 2.0-litre engine was introduced in 2007 with the XR4, similar to that found in the Ford Focus and the Mazda3. Delivering 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 190Nm of torque at 4500rpm, its performance is impressive for a compact car of its size. It is available with 5-speed manual gearbox only and offers adjustments to the suspension, brakes, and steering to deliver a more refined and responsive drive than its predecessors and fellow Fiesta models.
The 2009 models boast reduced wind noise and a lighter bodyweight, along with reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption for the 5-speed manual 1.6-litre models is around 6.1 litres per 100km, with emissions at 143. These models deliver 88kW of power at 6000rpm and 152Nm of torque at 4050rpm. Meanwhile the 4-speed automatic comes with a 1.4-litre engine giving 71kW at 5750rpm and 128Nm at 4200rpm, achieving 6.9l/100km and giving emissions of 164g/km.
A move to manufacturing in Thailand saw some further adjustments to the Fiesta in 2010 in the form of the new B299 model, along with a four-door sedan variant and several diesel alternatives. Some internal changes in looks and arrangement of controls proved not to be hugely popular, but they are more than outweighed by the improvements in performance that are gained from the replacement once more of the 1.4-litre engine for a 1.6-litre in conjunction with a 6-speed Powershift automatic transmission and updates to the 1.6-litre diesel 5-speed manual models. The overall soundproofing of the most recent Fiesta is an improvement once again on its predecessors, as are the more rigid twist-beam suspension, improved stability control system, and upgraded electric power steering.
The 2006 to 2009 models offer plenty to keep the driver and passenger safe, comfortable, and entertained, while it is with the 2009 model that the Fiesta really comes into its own. The fourth-generation Fiesta (our third) comes with some serious styling and a world of smart extras including cruise control, electronic power steering, air conditioning, power windows, remote central locking, voice-control connectivity, Bluetooth and CD/radio with MP3. The LX includes five doors as standard, 15-inch alloys, leather trim, and trip computer, while the Zetec comes with even more, including 16-inch alloys, perimeter alarm, and body kit.
Safety is a key feature with the Fiesta, and all models include ABS, EBD, and dual front airbags. Optional additional safety pack ups the spec with additional stability control, traction control, EBA Emergency Brake Assist, side airbags, and driver’s knee airbag, earning the full safety pack models an ANCAP adult occupant safety rating of five stars.
The Fiesta shares much beneath the bonnet with the Mazda2. For space, comfort and versatility, it is way ahead of its main rival, the VW Polo and other competitors, such as the Citroen C3, Renault Clio, and Peugeot 206. It also competes strongly with its own brand rivals – the hugely popular, slightly larger Ford Focus and its predecessor, the cute and compact Ford Ka. Other rivals include the Honda Jazz, the Hyundai Getz 1.5, and the Holden Barina.