- We like...Fuel economy, inspired dash design
- We don't...Too dear; cabin plastics look cheap
Eco-correct small Ford returns up to 76mpg and is 'clean' enough to get you free road tax. But at £12k, is it value? This is the greenest ‘ordinary’ car you can buy – for now. We say ‘ordinary’ because the Fiesta Econetic dsn’t rely on alternative fuels, electric motors or other gizmos to achieve its 98g/km of carbon dioxide emissions levels and 76.3mpg overall.
Instead, it relies on Ford’s 1.6 turbodiesel tuned for best possible fuel economy. Other tweaks include easy-roll tyres, taller gearbox ratios to keep the engine turning more slowly at any given speed, and styling changes to help the car pass through the air more cleanly. Oh, and Ford has lowered the suspension and added slippery oil to the gearbox, too.
The recipe’s similar to the one trotted out by Volkswagen for its Polo Bluemotion superminis almost two years ago and, since then, by Ford and others across a range of cars. And although the Bluemotion was the first, it compares well with the Ford, which beats it by 1g/km and only a couple of mpg, although it ds also muster extra horse-power: 90bhp to the Polo’s 79.
And the Ford performs well, giving no clue as to its eco-intentions. The diesel engine is smooth and peppy and keeps quiet-ish even when you push it to rev. The five-speed gearchange is easy – well-weighted and slick. The Econetic steers precisely, too, although the steering has a slightly ‘artificial’ feel. It’s no worse than you’d find in any of its rivals using an electrically powered set-up, though.
Meanwhile, the tied-down suspension gives the car a firm ride that gets unsettled as you traverse poorly-repaired urban roads.
Like other new-generation Fiestas, it has good cabin space for its overall length and width, although you’d be pushed to squeeze three big people on to the rear seat. Kids would be fine, though. And, despite such space-efficient provision for passengers, there’s still tidy room for a couple of big suitcases in the boot. Then, drop the rear seats and you’ve space enough to house a load of garden rubbish, or a student’s belongings en route to college.
The car’s dash layout is bold and intriguing – the main heating control is huge, while buttons for radio and other switches are big, clear and artfully arranged across the centre console, resembling the keypad of a mobile phone. And the main dash panel is coloured, too –in our silver test car, it was bright blue.
It looks sharp and different, although the picture is let down by some poorly crafted plastics used here and there, which looked just too cheap in a car costing just morethan £12,000 in the five-door form we drove. And when you think that the Econetic comes without air conditioning and rides on steel wheels with plastic covers, the picture worsens.
All up, it looks dear compared to other Fiestas, notably the 1.25-litre petrol-engined Zetec 5dr, which is over £700 cheaper and packs air conditioning as standard. And even though the Econetic promises up to 27 extra miles per gallon over the 1.25’s 49mpg, you’d still have to drive thousands of miles before you’d recoup the extra you’d spent.
Fiesta Econetic? A great idea – but, for us, it’s at least £1000 too dear.
For new and used Fiestas, go to motors.co.uk
- Engines1.6 turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph12.3secs
- Insurance groups4
Motors.co.uk value verdict: