The West

Thai s the limit for spritely Fiesta
Thai's the limit for spritely Fiesta

The European-sourced WS Fiesta has propelled Ford into a serious contender in the ever-expanding light car segment.

Now the Blue Oval is set to further increase its market share in the second-biggest segment with production of the small car being moved to Thailand.

It is a move that will enable Ford to add more value to the already well-specified Fiesta and, equally importantly, because of increased production get its hands on more stock.

It has also enabled it to upgrade the petrol engine and transmission and add a sedan variant to the new WT Fiesta line-up.

Other improvements include additional soundproofing around the cabin, quieter tyres, better door seals, a stiffer body and more rigid mountings for the rear suspension which have helped reduce wind and road noise and further improved its already good driving dynamics.

Voice-controlled Bluetooth connectivity, which will enable the driver to use the phone and audio system without touching any controls, will be standard.

The WT range also has an improved electronic stability control, up to seven airbags, upgraded electric power steering and a new sports suspension for the Zetec models that will be added to the line-up early next year. They will even get new front bumpers, wheels, colours and trim.

But the shift to Thailand sees the Fiesta lose the reach adjustment on the steering wheel and the introduction of harder interior plastics. The full-size spare wheel has also been replaced by a "temporary mobility kit". A spare wheel can be purchased as an option.

The most significant changes are the introduction of a six-speed dual-clutch transmission to replace the four-speed automatic and extra diesel variants.

Unfortunately, Ford has still not been able to combine the two, with the diesels still available only with a manual transmission.

While the five-speed manual is well suited to the "torquey" diesel engine, it will continue to prevent the Fiesta from reaching its full sales potential with many downsizers not prepared to buy manual vehicles.

That aside, after driving the new WT Fiesta range in and around the Adelaide Hills last week, for me, the diesel was the pick of the models in terms of driving fun.

The diesel engine, which costs an extra $2500 over the equivalent petrol model, produces enjoyable mid-range pulling power that enables it to climb most hills comfortably without having to work the transmission too hard.

And it is now more affordable, with Ford offering the choice of three different diesel variants.

The Econetic, which carries the mantle of being Australia's most economical car with a fuel consumption figure of just 3.7L/100km, will continue to be sold alongside new LX and Zetec models.

The new models will not be as frugal - the official fuel figure is 4.4L/100km - but they will also be up to $3500 cheaper.

Ford marketing manager David Katic said the decision to expand the diesel range was based on the success of the Econetic model.

He said the top-of-the-range Econetic had not only helped to lift Fiesta's market share but had helped to change the brand's image and attract new buyers.

The introduction of a sedan, a first for the Fiesta range, also has the potential to attract new buyers. It offers all the same interior space as the hatch, and after the short test drive of both variants there was no, or very little, difference in performance.

But the sedan does offer a lot more cargo space with the boot capable of carrying 430 litres of cargo, compared with 295 litres in the hatch, though it does have intrusive goose-neck hinges and the back seats do not fold down.

The sedan will be available in CL and LX specifications with the option of diesel or petrol engines and automatic or manual transmission, depending on the model.

The introduction of the six- speed dual clutch PowerShift transmission has also allowed Ford to replace the 1.4-litre engine that was matched to the four-speed auto with the same 1.6-litre power plant used in the manual variant.

The new combination is not only 18kW more powerful but is 12 per cent more fuel efficient. The auto now produces 89kW at 6000rpm and 151 Newton metres at 4050rpm while fuel consumption has been reduced to 6.1L/100km.

The combination is not as dynamic as the diesel engine but it is still a pretty spritely engine for this class and combined with the Fiesta's superb dynamics it is a class-leading combination.

The PowerShift, which is a sealed unit, requires no maintenance and, according to Ford, is designed to operate for 240,000km or 10 years.



CL petrol manual $16,990

CL petrol auto $18,990

LX petrol manual $18,990

LX petrol auto $20,990

LX diesel manual $21,490

Zetec petrol manual $20,990

Zetec petrol auto $22,990

Zetec diesel manual $23,490

Econetic diesel manual $24,990


CL petrol auto $18,990

LX petrol manual $18,990

LX petrol auto $20,990

LX diesel manual $21,490

The above prices do not include government or statutory charges.

The West Australian

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