Ford Fiesta TDCi ECOnetic first driveThu, 29 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0800
Ford's new economical Fiesta ECOnetic
Cars UK has been out on a bit of a jolly today, to the depths of rural Hertfordshire for the press launch of the Ford Fiesta TDCi ECOnetic. Any excuse for a free lunch!
So what’s it like, this planet-saving Fiesta? Well, ‘Green’ cars are not usually the most exciting prospect in the world, so there wasn’t the sort of unbounded enthusiasm welling up you’d normally find if, for example, Ferrari had lent us a new California for the week, but anything with four wheels and an engine is always interesting, so we trollied along to the Ford lunch (sorry, launch!) with a few preconceived notions, but a pretty open mind.
The Ford Fiesta in its latest iteration is one of our favourite superminis. It is stylish, well-built and great fun to drive. It is, and deserves to be, the default choice in this sector. Yes, it has competition, but the competition has a much narrower customer appeal. So the sensible money for once has it right, and the Fiesta is the best overall choice.
Much to our surprise, the Fiesta ECOnetic is actually a pretty good drive, True, you do have to be up around 2,000 revs when the turbo cuts in before there is any real performance, but that’s OK, it’s still fun to drive (which is more than you can say about a lot of ‘Eco’ cars).
Ford has tweaked the suspension and fitted tyres with low rolling resistance, along with some aerodynamic tweaks and a fiddle with the ECU, to coax the best mileage out of this Fiesta, and on the whole it works pretty well. You even get a ‘Smart’ gear change indicator on the dash to help you optimise your driving style (but it drives you mad – it wants you to change up just as the car starts to pull! Still, that is the point, I suppose). The lowered suspension is a bit harsh though, and we found ourselves crashing around a fair bit more than you would in the pick of the Fiestas, the 1.25 Zetec. That said, it was still acceptable.
Ford quotes 76.3mpg for the ECOnetic, and a Co2 of 98g/km. Which is going to make this a very clean and very economical car to run. And there is no real downside in performance terms, it’s actually a pretty good drive. So where’s the catch? The price, I’m afraid. At £12,445 for the 3 door it is substantially more expensive (£1,000) than the 1.25 Zetec. Even with its better mpg and non-existent VED, you’ll be hard pushed to justify this car on the grounds of financial economy. The vast majority of people would find the 1.25 Zetec a better drive and, despite the mpg figures, cheaper to run. You’d have to do mega-miles to come out on top financially.
But running costs are not necessarily the be-all and end-all. If you want to ‘Save the Planet’ by running the ‘UK’s Greenest Family Car’, and you can justify the extra cost up-front to do that, then the new Ford Fiesta TDCi ECOnetic is, no question, an extremely good choice.
Surprised ourselves. We had a good time!
By Cars UK