Ford Fiesta 1.6S
As reported in the April issue, the new Ford Fiesta has now arrived in a fanfare of publicity, but it is basically a shopping car in three or five-door guise. With the demise of the XR2 until the arrival of a higher-performing injected version in September, the only Fiesta currently of interest to the driver with sporting pretensions is the 1.6S. The new model is quite different in size and shape from its predecessor, and whereas the XR2 stood out from the rest of the range with its use of sporty body styling appendages, the 1.6S is more subtle in its approach, although it too has the front and rear spoilers and front fog lamps.
Under the bonnet is Ford’s new 90 horsepower 1.6 engine which has endowed the car with a fairly healthy performance, comparable with the old XR2. The only drawback is that it delivers the goods in a fairly raucous fashion, especially at higher revs, which a little sound-proofing under the bonnet would have helped dampen. Although I was never able to substantiate the claimed top speed of 108 mph, I did clock 112 mph on the speedometer and achieve 0-60 mph in just under 9.5 seconds.
The addition of a 14mm rollbar, unique to this model, has improved the car’s handling over that of its more pedestrian brethren and it was notably more stable under hard cornering. The ride is obviously a little harder but not uncomfortable. Around town in particular the suspension absorbs the bumps quite efficiently,
With a car of this nature it is often the gearbox which is the deciding factor on assessing its merit on an everyday driving basis. Apart from a car not starting there are few things worse than a baulky gearchange whether in traffic conditions or on the open road when one wishes to extract the most from the engine. Full marks to Ford, for the gearbox is light and smooth.
On the 1.6S ABS is sensibly fitted as standard, the brakes themselves standing up to some severe tests without any sign of fade.
Central locking is another welcome addition on a car in this price-bracket, while a couple of other thoughtful items include a petrol gauge which always records the amount of fuel in the tank even when the ignition is off and a switch on the central console to open the hatch which for safety reasons becomes inoperative when the ignition is on. The bonnet-release catch is under the steering column, with the secondary catch under the bonnet lip easy to use.
With a manual sunroof, electric windows, digital clock, padded steering wheel, good ergonomics and comfortable seats, this is generally a driver-friendly car and although I was not particularly endeared to it neither did I leave it with a sigh of relief. To offset its lack of street cred this competent Eurobox is reliable, efficient and quite pleasurable to drive, which at £8033 makes it good value for money. WPK