First drive: 2015 Ford Fiesta in the UAE
We usually don’t look at too many small cars simply because the cheapest offerings from all brands are now almost similar to each other. We end up looking at some when we have to rent one out though, like this all-new 2015 Ford Fiesta we had rented for a week.
Our rental Fiesta was the basic variant. Facelifted in 2014, the Fiesta now incorporates Ford’s controversial Aston Martin-esque trapezoidal grille. Besides the redesigned headlamps, which now have park lights doubling as daytime running lamps, there aren’t any noticeable changes outside. Even the interior remains largely unchanged, apart from the blue-backlit LCD displays in the center dash and the gauge cluster. The upper dash and door panels are all soft-touch materials, which is pretty commendable for a sub-compact, and hard plastics complete the lower panels.
The basic Fiesta comes decked up with a decent set of features for the price. Features include a 6-speaker audio with AUX input, multi-function display, trip computer, rear fog lamps, two airbags, traction and stability control, ABS with EBD and brake assist, strong auto a/c, and illuminated cup-holders. While the front passengers get powered windows, the rear passengers are treated with the ancient manual winder windows, although the upper trims get powered rear windows as well. The cabin is relatively silent for a subcompact to the point of being class-leading, with well-muffled engine, wind and road noise levels. However, interior space is where the Fiesta loses its game to the competitors. While the front legroom and headroom are fine, the rear legroom and the boot space are a joke, especially when compared to the spacious new Toyota Yaris.
The new Fiesta is powered by a carry-over four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine, but mated to an impressive 6-speed tiptronic gearbox. Our car did the 0-100 kph dash in 11.2 seconds during the fairly hot autumn of November. However, fuel efficiency was an average 9.4 l/100 km, mostly due to driving in heavy city traffic. The gearbox is cleverly tuned to ooze the most out of the puny engine, thus aiding in quicker acceleration from standstill. When in sports mode, the gearbox surprised us as it aptly chose gears during situations demanding engine braking, such as going downhill on a mountain road.
On the flip side though, the gearbox is sensitive to throttle inputs even in regular drive mode. The gears, although not short-ratio, are tuned to shift short in city driving for better acceleration and fuel economy, but this setup causes the gearbox to sometimes go into a never-ending hunt for the right gear in varied low-speed driving. And the shifts seem pronounced, although the shifts at higher speeds are rather smooth.
Unlike most Fords, the Fiesta rides a little too firm, even as it soaks most minor road imperfections without much harshness passed on into the cabin. But it does exhibit outstanding handling characteristics, clearly making it the class leader here. We were throwing the Fiesta around corners almost like a sports car, and it handled exceptionally well, revealing a well-tuned suspension setup. We were so confident with the Fiesta that we even turned off the electronic stability aids later on, as we kept trying to bring out the Ken Block in us. Going beyond the limits, the Fiesta safely understeers on predictable lines. There is almost no feedback from the electric steering or controls though.
Another aspect that makes the Fiesta stand out from its competitors is the ride composure at highway speeds. While most subcompacts, if not all, are not comfortable for long highway drives simply because of their susceptibility to wind pockets and crosswinds, the Fiesta seemed surprisingly stable. Despite some oversized Patrols brushing us off at over 160 kph on the motorway, our slower Fiesta remained surprisingly composed just like a bigger heavier car.
The little Fiesta is one of the least-noticed models in the Ford line-up, despite being a fairly good-looking car that is also insanely fun to drive. Unfortunately, the target buyers for the subcompact segment count spaciousness over looks or sporty handling for the price paid. But if space is not an issue, there isn’t anything that we can think of for not recommending the Fiesta over the usual set of boring subcompacts we see everyday. If safety, highway stability and fun factor, are among your top priorities in a small car, then you may not need to look beyond the 2015 Ford Fiesta.
For UAE prices and specs, visit the Ford buyer guide.