Test drive: Ford Fiesta Titanium Econetic 1.6 Duratorq TDCi 95PS
The TotallyMotor Verdict
We’re all well aware of the cost of motoring right now with the average motorist spending around £1700 per year on petrol or diesel; roughly equivalent to 10 per cent of the average income. According to government guidelines, spending 10 per cent or more of our income on fuel puts us under-pressure-punters into their “fuel-poverty” bracket. And while an increase in the price of oil is always immediately reflected in a jump of price at the pumps; large reductions in oil prices don’t reflect in a decent downward roll of those terrifying triple figures on the forecourt.
It’s hard to live without a car these days; families especially, and until the government does something substantial to swing the balance of power away from the oil companies, us men and women that drive-for-life are going to have to continue to tighten our belts. Probably until we pop!
The automotive manufacturers spotted our plight sometime ago and tasked their designers, engineers and boffins to tweak existing models to the absolute frugal max. And those more sipping motors are starting to hit the dealers, with promises of mega-miles-per-gallon.
More slippery aero, lightening of kerb weights and high-tech – generally low-pressure turbocharged diesel engines (that’ll probably better current hybrids for mpg, until the latest generation of diesel hybrids waft onto our roads) – are the frugal way forward. And this Fiesta Econetic is Ford’s most modern eco-knight, seen here in metallic Vision Blue armour.
We drove the Fiesta Econetic for a full week of crawling commutes and midnight, big-mile cruises, with a firm eye on its in-dash economy meter, to see what’s what in the daily battle to avoid those painful pumps.
Test drive: Ford Fiesta Titanium Econetic TDCi
Britain’s best-selling car is generally agreed to be a handsome chap and Fiesta has done well to cross boundaries of age and gender, and in this 3-door Econetic test car guise with its sharply-styled lighting, friendly face, short overhangs and defined, upwards swooping side-profile shoulder-lines, we’ve got a refined- and engineered-looking supermini.
Changes to the Econetic’s exterior, to make it more slippery, include lowered – but not stiffened-for-sportiness – suspension to help channel air over the smoothly-shaped bodywork, and less so underneath the car where mechanical appendages can cause drag, and easier-to-turn, 14-inch alloys wheels with Michelin’s latest low-friction tyres. I personally prefer a Fiesta on bigger wheels, like the sexy 17s found on the sporty Fiesta S1600, but we’re in eco-territory, so I better banish the boy-racer in me.
The base price for the Fiesta Econetic, in top-of-the-range Titanium trim, is £15,845 OTR and this TotallyMotor tester wears Vision Blue metallic paint; a £495 option, taking the total sticker price to £16,340. But you can get your hands on the latest Econetic tech for £14,095 with the Fiesta Edge Econetic.
Perhaps the Econetic Fiestas are a little less evocative to look at, but then again, there’s surely little sultry-stimulation to be enjoyed when emptying your wallet at the petrol station.
Into the interior:
Titanium sits at the top of the Fiesta trim-tree and you get some good stuff that you need, and at least one option that you’ll have to pay for that’s pretty useful.
That option is the rear view camera, that also packages-in rear parking sensors, auto dimming mirror, auto headlights and auto wipers, for an extra £475. The view behind the Fiesta Econetic is displayed in a side-screen within the rear view mirror, as you reverse, and makes manoeuvring at night all the safer, as even in the darkness, the view from the high-sensitivity camera shows obstacles clearly.
Included in the Titanium price are attractively-patterned fabric seats, the leather pack is a £750 option, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, a great-sounding Sony DAB radio and CD player with Bluetooth and USB connectivity that actually includes a double-ended cable that easily connects to most MP3 players, red ambient interior lighting that casts a warming glow on cold nights, and a quick-clear windscreen that does exactly what it says on the tin, on said cold nights.
Also thankfully standard, is Fiesta’s excellent driving position. Ford are working hard to make their models fit all shapes, lengths and sizes, and that work is paying off. All of the Fords we’ve recently tested, from the Mondeo Zetec Econetic 1.6-litre TDCi , Focus estate Titanium Ecoboost and the Kuga Titanium SUV, have all adjusted and cosseted to the driver’s shape. In my case I’m tall and like to sit low in the chassis.
This Fiesta is no different with every-way adjustment to the driver’s seat and the steering wheel making sure I was comfortable for any length of journey. Ford are amongst the best at this right now.
Ford’s “special engine calibration” fully focuses this 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder TDCi motor on the frugal side of things, and while 94bhp doesn’t sound like a great deal, it’s delivered by a small and light turbocharger that quite quickly builds the revs, and therefore the power.
The steering is very light and nicely quick and there aren’t many superminis that can match Fiesta’s pointy and planted front-end feel. And while this Econetic is quite softly and smoothly sprung, body-control is still almost totally wallow-free with cruising comfort that thinks big car feel, but in a small package.
Clutch and gearbox are silky, but I would’ve liked less brake pedal travel before bite, and although Econetic’s personality is green rather than mean, there’s enough turbo-torque, that class-leading Fiesta chassis and safety acronyms aplenty (ABS, ESP and EBA – emergency brake assist) to keep the Fiesta calm and collected, and quite spritely.
However, to get near to Ford’s quoted economy of 78.5mpg you’ll need to work with the up-shift green indicator arrow and cruise, rather than attack, your regular route to work, but with CO2 emissions of 95g/km, you’ll pay not a dime in London congestion, and road tax will be but a distant memory.
During our week-long mix of motorway mile-munching and bumper-to-bumper crawling commutes, the mpg-meter was on, or a touch above, the 60mpg mark. This beats both the Mondeo Econetic and the Skoda Superb estate Greenline II we recently tested, by a handful of miles-per-gallon. These are, of course, substantially bigger cars.
So, 60mpg, perhaps a touch more if you’re really light-footed, looks to be what we’re set to expect from the more eco-focused, latest generation of turbodiesel, non-hybrid cars. Proof that the automotive manufacturers’, Ford included, are working hard to make motoring that bit cheaper. Thank goodness!
Ten second sum up:
The nation’s favourite new car, the Ford Fiesta, now adds 60mpg+ eco-efficiency to its long list of favourable traits. A great chassis, glove-like driving position and exterior styling that stills cuts the mustard after four years. But, for those that can afford a bit more 132bhp-fun, there’s always the spicier Fiesta Metal.
Prices and availability:
The Ford Fiesta Econetic range starts at £14,095 for the Fiesta Edge Econetic, rising to £15,845 for the Fiesta Titanium Econetic. Price as tested, £16,340, for the Fiesta Titanium Econetic with optional extra metallic paint at £495. Available now.
Words & pics: Daniel Anslow / Ford
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