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For sheer driving pleasure

The new Fiesta is built on the company’s B2E platform, which has won much acclaim for its light yet stiff construction. India will get the saloon derivative currently sold in China and other Asian markets.

autos Updated: Apr 16, 2011 02:06 IST

The new Fiesta is built on the company’s B2E platform, which has won much acclaim for its light yet stiff construction. India will get the saloon derivative currently sold in China and other Asian markets. The boot section has been integrated seamlessly, and merges well with the the body. There is however an awkward-looking area above the rear wheel arches that makes the rear tyres look a touch puny. The Fiesta looks far more futuristic than any of its competition.

Good suspension
The new Fiesta comes with an exceptionally rigid chassis that makes suspension tuning a lot easier, as well as electrically assisted steering, which uses a column-mounted motor. Its interiors are dramatically different from the present car too. There’s a wing-like design theme to the dashboard, which is nicely textured with soft-touch material, but some plastics lower down the look making it appear shiny and cheap; some of the switchgear too doesn’t feel premium either. But what really lets the interiors down is the rear seat that simply can’t match a City or Vento for legroom. The driving position however is superb. The pedals are well spaced and there’s even a dead pedal to rest your foot. The new Fiesta is likely to use Ford’s DV6 or 1.6-litre Duratorq diesel engine, which develops around 90 bhp. What Ford has confirmed is a 120 bhp 1.6-litre petrol which will put the new Fiesta on par with the City and Linea T-Jet. This engine gets variable valve timing, which boosts power by 20 bhp.

Quick and responsive
The responsive 1.6 engine is quick off the line and revs eagerly with smoothness that makes it more than a match for the City. Power delivery is fairly linear. It’s quick, but special mention must be made for the Ford’s PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission, a twin-clutch unit that feels more direct and connected. Gear changes are quite seamless, especially at higher speeds, but in slow-moving traffic, the transmission feels a bit jerky. The Fiesta’s ride and handling is miles ahead of the competition. Its dynamics are very special and it handles uneven and poorly surfaced roads very well. The body control and grip is so good that you can scythe through a series of bends with complete confidence. The steering is the best example of an electrically power-assisted system we have experienced.

Price: R7 — 9 lakh (est)
Length: 4,291 mm
Width: 1,722 mm
Height: 1,454 — 1,496 mm
Wheelbase: 2,489 mm
Kerb weight: 1,171 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 43 litres
Engine: 4 cyls, 1596 cc, petrol
Installation: Front, transverse
Power: 120 bhp at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 15.39 kgm at 4,050 rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Brakes: Ventilated discs/drums

Verdict
The present Fiesta is a pretty good car, but it’s the new model with its modern and upmarket looks, strong engines and amazing ride and handling that has the potential to go straight to the top of the class. It isn’t very spacious and the interior quality is a bit of a letdown but for sheer driving pleasure nothing comes close. With the right pricing, it could prove to be the most serious threat to the Honda City.