Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: June 6, 2016
The term sub-compact carries with it certain stigmas, like cheaply made, boring and lacking any personality what-so-ever. But every now and again there comes a model that breaks with tradition and elevates itself above the stereotype. One such car is the 2016 Ford Fiesta SE. While being small and economical it still manages to feel well built and is rather fun to drive.
North Americans (except Quebec) used to have a negative opinion of small cars because the select few we had access to were dreadful, ugly, and uncomfortable tin cans. Just thinking of the Pontiac Acadian or the Dodge Omni is enough to send chills down my spine. The Fiesta is different however.
It began its life negotiating the twisty century’s old roadways and narrow European city streets that were built back when the only form of transport consumed hay and oats. Due to that environment, European sub-compact cars were developed to handle well, and not fall apart every time you hit a bump in the road. Then there was the issue of the obscenely expensive fuel; the only solution was to design tiny efficient engines.
When Ford started to think globally and brought these small vehicles to our shores, it worked wonders for the Blue Oval’s reputation. North Americans began to see the brilliance of owning a small car that could take a corner without tipping over and did not require a fuel stop every time they passed a gas station. Things have just continued to improve.
The Fiesta is a good looking vehicle, especially with the optional $995 body kit and the $600 SE Black Package that adds 16-inch 8-spoke black rims, dual heated power door mirrors, and blind spot alert. The bright Electric Spice paint on our tester was a real attention grabber leaving more than one person wondering whether or not I was driving the ST model. With the wheels pushed to the outer most corners, a broad grille, and the slightest of rear wings, there is a mischievous look to the Fiesta that is supported by its nimble handling.
Being short and riding low endows the Fiesta with a go-kart like quality that will put a smile on even the most skeptical of drivers. In the city it darts about effortlessly avoiding potholes and advancing through gridlocked traffic like a mouse running through a maze. The short wheelbase gives the Ford a tight turning radius and finding a parking spot is more sport than trial as you can fit into spaces that few others even consider parking spots. The electrically assisted rack and pinion steering provides enough feedback to be engaging, allowing you to enjoy some spirited back road shenanigans.
Under the hood of the tested unit was a 1.6L naturally aspirated mill that delivers plenty of torque and power. On paper, the numbers are nothing spectacular but in the real world, the Fiesta feels more powerful than the specs suggest. Pulling away from a stop, the RPM builds quickly; this engine revels at the high end of the rev range.
While accelerating, for example, if one clutch is engaged in 2nd gear, the other clutch will already have 3rd gear ready. It was not that long ago when this type of technology was only found in high-end exotics like Porsches with their PDK transmission. The Fiesta Powershift tranny also allows the driver to manually select gears by means of a toggle switch on the gear lever. Operated by your thumb, this switch is awkward to use but there is an alternative: let the transmission do the work.
The gear lever has an “S” slot (sport) that makes everything better. The shift points are raised, and the transmission drops gears more readily to keep the revs up, yet it still allows you to cruise in 6th gear on the highway. Despite this transmission’s slight habit to hesitate between gear changes, the overall experience left me impressed as I scored a better than advertised 7.3 L/100 km fuel consumption over my week.
There is another engine available for the Fiesta and it is even smaller. The 1.0L Ecoboost 3-cylinder actually develops more power: 123 hp and 148 lb-ft respectively thanks to direct injection and turbocharging. That is a significant increase especially to the amount of torque in such a small car.
Now there is penalty in weight for the smaller engine – about 24 kg. It may seem odd but it makes sense when you consider the 3-pot uses a cast iron block with an aluminum head, whereas the 4 pot uses an all-aluminum engine. That said, I suspect this engine will provide an even more fun to drive personality, sort of a budget Fiesta ST.
As nimble and impressive as the Fiesta drives, there is one glaring problem. Compared to other sub-compacts like the Honda Fit for example, the Fiesta’s interior is the smallest. If you are even close to the 6-foot mark, the driving position will be uncomfortable. There is a lack of legroom, the center armrest is set too far back to be useful, and your right leg will be permanently jammed into the center console.
The rear seat is worse with even less room for your legs, a low roof, and limited shoulder room. There is a total of 422 L of cargo room but when the rear seats are folded down they do not sit flat, making the floor a bit less useful. I also found the steering wheel to be slightly off center favouring towards the left, which took a few days to get used too.
On the plus side, the new SYNC 3 interface is available and comes with a 6.5-inch screen that sits nice and high on the dash. The interface is easy to use, features Siri integration, and even has voice commands for the navigation and stereo. The other controls found in the center console are clearly understood and easy to reach and operate. Thanks to the $550 Comfort Package our SE model even had heated front seats and automatic climate controls.
Overall Ford has a great little product here. For the consumer who is looking for a more engaging sub-compact and doesn’t require the biggest in-class interior, the Fiesta is a very attractive competitor. It has power to spare, a cheeky personality, a nimble feel and returns great fuel economy. What’s not to like?
型号 Model: 2016 Ford Fiesta SE 5-Door Hatch
顏色 Paint Type: Electric Spice
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $16,749
試車售價 Price as Tested: $24,544
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,489
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,056 / 1,722 / 1,476
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,168
引擎 Engine: 1.6-litre Ti-VCT 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 120 hp @ 6,350 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 112 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed Powershift automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 8.7 / 6.4 / 7.6