For the past 32 years, Ford Fiesta has provided practicality and driving pleasure to millions of customers across Europe. It has also been a favourite here over the years with thousands of loyal owners. That includes tens of thousand that had it as their first car from the second-hand market.
From its origins in 1976, as the product of a mission to build a new European small car with modern features and a respectable price tag, the Fiesta name became ingrained in European culture and is now known across a variety of markets in Asia and South America. Fiesta is a brand that has attracted a loyal and dedicated following.
For over 30 years, Fiesta has consistently featured at or near the top of the list of Europe's best-selling cars. Over 12 million Fiestas have found homes over that time and the Fiesta name continues to carry an overwhelmingly positive image in most markets. Ford says that it stands for style, efficiency, driving quality and value for money. The Ford marketing people add that the new model is set to continue this success story and carry Fiesta forward to a new generation of car buyers. They tell us that everything about the all-new Ford Fiesta is new – from the styling, materials and technologies.
At the same time, this completely new model marks something of a departure for Ford of Europe. In contrast to previous generations of Fiesta, this car has been conceived and developed by the European arm of Ford's global product development team to meet the demands and expectations of their customers around the world. It is also the blueprint for future Ford global product development, bringing together Europe, the Americas and Asia where it will be tailored for each region and go on sale progressively between now and 2010.
"I believe this is the most dramatic Fiesta since the very first model and it is the most complete and expressive interpretation yet of our kinetic design philosophy, echoing both inside and out the major elements of the exciting Verve Concept vehicles that inspired such a positive reaction around the world," said John Fleming, President of Ford of Europe.
"Of course, you would expect a new Ford to be great to drive and our engineers have worked hard to ensure that new Fiesta will deliver excellent driving quality. This is one of our core vehicle attributes, and one we have developed and applied consistently throughout the Ford of Europe range."
Ford claims that one of the development team’s greatest achievements is that it has been able to make the new Fiesta stronger, safer, and more comfortable, yet lighter and more fuel efficient than the car it replaces. They speak of an exceptionally rigid body structure means a robust crash protection, even before you include up to seven airbags available as part of new Fiesta’s Intelligent Protection System.
And increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions are two qualities that small car customers are looking for on a daily basis and Ford says that in this regard too, the new Fiesta will not disappoint. Chief among a range of efficiency improvements that they speak about is the extension of our acclaimed Ford ECOnetic ultra-low CO2 range, with a new 1.6-litre ECOnetic Duratorq TDCi offering CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. In addition, they tell us that every engine in the range has been revised and enhanced for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
They’re also introducing an all-new 1.6-litre Ti-VCT engine and a Zetec S model, that they say is for driving enthusiasts. Ford also promises a host of comfort and convenience features you would normally expect to find on their much larger vehicles combine to make new Fiesta truly a compelling choice.
Ford also tells us that the all-new Fiesta brings an array of ‘big car’ premium features to the small car segment, which customers will notice even before they turn the key for the first time.
Certainly the new Fiestas' striking centre console features a mobile phone-inspired entertainment system that is styled very differently to traditional automotive switchgear, to provide a completely intuitive interface.
Keyless entry, combined with a ‘Ford Power’ start button, adds to the all-new Fiesta premium experience, with other ‘surprise and delight’ options available including automatic, projector headlamps, automatic windscreen wipers, Ford’s sophisticated Human Machine Interface with large 89mm (3.5 inch ) screen and cruise control.
The driving position is given a ‘cockpit’ feel, with improved position and adjustment to both the driver’s seat and steering wheel, while passengers receive more personal and luggage space overall than the previous Fiesta, despite the stylish, sweeping exterior profile. Stowage space abounds from a boot capable of swallowing 295 litres, to ingenious storage areas throughout the cabin, including charging points for mobile phones and MP3 players.
While all-new Fiesta has been designed and engineered to meet a wide range of customer requirements, a clear series choice makes selecting the right model a simple task, with options from feisty to frugal, ultra-modern to traditional, and a comprehensive list of standard features at all levels.
“You immediately feel the quality of a bigger car that will be at the core of the all-new Fiesta ownership experience. When we consider all the comfort and convenience features in the new Fiesta range, we think of it not as our new small car, but our smallest large car”, says Giovanni De Pasca, Driving Environment and Occupant package manager for Ford of Europe.
Ford points out that the all-new Fiesta will also be attractive to a discerning and demanding generation of customers – extensive thought and effort has ensured it still stands for value for money and reliability.
Helping owners minimise running costs was key, with fuel economy at the top of the list. All-new Fiesta boasts increased efficiency across the range, with owners of the 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi saving approximately a tankful of fuel a year – 45 litres over 9,300 miles – through efficiency improvements alone.
I will have more specific details on specification and prices for Ireland closer to the launch in October, and driving impressions after a test run of this important new arrival in September.