“Wonder product with Blunder pricing” a phrase that encapsulates the sales debacle that Ford’s Fiesta faced in India since its inception in Indian market in 2011. As a credible proposition, Fiesta’s capabilities were never under clouds of doubt but Ford’s over-indulgence on pricing front hamstrung the market prospects of this competitive sedan. This high price controversy coupled with some other weak links like cramped rear, underpowered engine etc. made sure than Fiesta never ever got a leg to stand on. Later Ford though made some price amendments but by that time damage to Fiesta’s prospects had already been done. Now even after having its fingers burnt once on this pricing front, Ford seems to have learnt no lessons. Case in point is newly launched face lifted 2014 Fiesta that unfortunately replicates the same pricing blunder that its predecessor did. We expected Ford to launch new Fiesta in category of entry-level sedan though Ford’s seems to have altogether different opinion.
Ford has priced Fiesta in range of Rs 7.69 – 9.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) that unmistakably lands this sedan into price territory of premium sedans; something that we believe Ford must have avoided. Camping in the land of premium C-segment among category stalwarts like Honda City and Hyundai Verna is widely seen asbiting off by Ford more than it can really chew. In heart of hearts even Ford’s honchos are well aware that vying to compete head on with likes of City and Verna is surely going to be a tough nut to crack. Now in order to stand any chance against the tough competitors like Honda and Hyundai; this Ford has to have hit the ground running. But even then it remains to be seen whether or not this new Fiesta able tofaze the already established veterans.
Stunningly beautiful is what new Fiesta looks like from each and every possible viewing angle. Massive yet sophisticated grill, swept back multi-point headlamps and subtle power bulges on bonnet help Fiesta to make a solid first impression. New sculpted bumpers with equally dynamic fog lamps housings gel well with the overall dynamism of car.
Side profile is blessed with new 15” alloy wheels and ORVMs’ now comes with integrated indicators. Aggressively rising back to back character lines makes Fiesta looks far sleeker and dynamic than its predecessor. Wheel arches are pronounced especially rear one though the intensity of this beefing has been kept under check in line with sedan theme of car.
Rear of Fiesta feels very much in synch with rest of its profile. Although there is still some stoutness especially in rear three-quarter view of Fiesta, Ford has ensured that nobody will take offence in that. Wrap around tail lamps look classy and so is subtle incorporation of integrated spoiler in boot lid. An easily-missing chrome strip aids to premium feel of car though its higher placement would have made it more noticeable. Overall new Fiesta strikes gold with its beautiful demeanour and though it looks far more compact in its footprints compared to rivals like City and Verna; it still manages to hold its own in this aesthetic department.
In contrast to massive outside revamping, inside cabin amendments that new Fiesta comes with are few and far between. The basic lay-out of the cabin remains same as of old Fiesta though the focus on this 2014 edition is on upgrading the quality and ambience of interiors. And Ford has indeed succeeded in making Fiesta cabin more desirable and luxurious than before. Two-tone dash board merges seamless with bright beige seat colour. Complementing this eye-soothing combination is centre console treated in black-glossy finish.
In term of technology, new Fiesta comes with strong and credible backing of long list of equipment. Top variant of Fiesta comes with front dual airbags, ABS, rain sensing wipers, auto headlamps, keyless entry with push start button and reverse parking sensors. In addition to these goodies top variant Titanium also gets SYNC; a multi-media system that has capability to perform tasks with your voice command. Further there is all new Ford’s AppLink that made its India’s debut in this Fiesta. This AppLink application allows the useful exchange of information between user’s phone and car’s multi-media system.
Now we boil down to another critical aspect of space in which Fiesta seems to be a bit edgy and nervous. And this is because of valid reason as this sedan knows that room is surely going to hinder its selling prospects especially if one starts comparing Fiesta’s cabin space with its price-matched rivals. Fiesta could have hold its ground had it been competing with likes of Dzire, Amaze or Sail though its price parity with City and Verna is sure to take severe toll as both of its rivals are altogether in a different league of cabin space and roominess. Front seats of Fiesta offer good support and in fact bolstering is as good as it could be. You feel nice snug fit in seats and the firm support is sure to entice the driver to play it hard with Fiesta. Unfortunately the story is completely different at back as low set bench with small leg and knee room offers a little to play. Even head room is at premium and even by standard of charitable remarks; rear bench of Fiesta disappointed us just like its predecessor.
Boot space however on other hand with total swept volume of 430 litres assuages the cramped rear bench space 2014 Fiesta comes with. Not only the capacity feels impressive and voluminous; its unobtrusive lay-out is equally commendable. Suspension towers have minimum intrusion and spare wheel is neatly concealed below black matt cover.
ONE AND ONLY DIESEL HEART
As new Fiesta comes only in diesel variant; we escaped the dilemma of choosing between petrol and diesel vehicle for our road test. Ford is currently offering new Fiesta with oil-burner only and addition of petrol heart will take place towards the end of 2014. There has been no upgrade on engine front as new Fiesta drives power from same old 1.5-litre, 4 cylinder diesel engine that puts out 91 Ps of power and 205 Nm of torque. The whole setup breather through 8 valves mounted on single overhead cam (SOHC) arrangement. This partly explains a bit gruff nature of sound though this set up does help to improve low-end torque response of Fiesta.
Unlike typical turbo engines available in Indian market that wake up only after a certain revolutions, this oil-burner starts delivering its punch right from start. There is no turbo-lag as Fiesta makes enough-grunt to make your city driving a smooth affair even in higher gears. There is no need to up or down shift gears very often and the gear changing manoeuvre is warranted only in extreme situations like a complete halt or hard braking. Fiesta is happy in its mid-range too as attaining and remaining in 3-digit speed mark is simply an effortless attempt. But then use of SOHC has its own share of limitations; weak top-end is prominent among these. Once we started pushing motor hard and tried to get past 3500 rpm mark, Fiesta started sounding like a strained horse. Although progress didn’t get curtailed completely; still the weak motor showed enough signs of resistance.
New Fiesta comes with one and only option of 5-speed manual transmission mated to TDCi motor. There is no automatic variant though the same may see the light of day once petrol variant get its market entry later in this year.
New Fiesta gearbox lives up to rich legacy of Ford’s transmissions. The shifting experience is slick, precise and direct. There is hardly any notchiness and the whole cogging process is without any flaw. Clutch is just a bit heavy especially if one is used to experience of ultra-light pedal of Amaze, still it won’t cause a pain in your right foot. Brake action is assertive and coupled with ABS reassures you every time with its stopping prowess. Steering is one of the best units available in India as it cunningly balances the aspect of convenience and feedback. In city run Fiesta feels nimble and agile while on open stretches steering weighs up quite nicely.
FUN TO DRIVE
Ford has excelled the art of understanding Indian roads and every vehicle in their stable is testimony to this fact. Despite of being an outsider, Ford has been able to strike a inimitable balance between ride and handling aspects. The suspension settings of their vehicles are in leagues of benchmark and new Fiesta is no different.
With McPherson strut up front and semi-independent twist beam at rear, Fiesta is truly a driver’s car. Any sort of roads hardly presents a challenge to Fiesta gliding capabilities as this sedan puts a big smile on your face with its manoeuvring ease. A bit of stiffness at low speeds that results in some sharp vertical moments is only point of concern if at all it is eligible for consideration though this disappears quickly once Fiesta gets the speed whip. In terms of handling, Fiesta can easily serve as a segment benchmark. Even under the severe braking and aggressive cornering, Fiesta doesn’t lose its composure. Rigid chassis and somewhat taut dimensions with aerodynamic design play their part comprehensively to make sure that Fiesta comes out as an accomplished vehicle.
Now it’s a verdict time and we very honestly confess that Fiesta performed much better than we initially expected it to be. This face lift version has stepped up Ford’s game in a number of departments like styling, interiors, quality in addition to carrying forward the legacy of its predecessor in strong areas of ride and handling fronts. Even on mileage front, Ford Fiesta has made tremendous strides as with ARAI certified figure of 25.01 km/l makes this sedan second most fuel-efficient vehicle in India; first being Honda City with figure of 26.0 km/l. Had Fiesta been launched in price territory of Dzire and Amaze, it would have made a compelling case for itself. But a price tag overlapping territories of City and Verna makes Fiesta quite edgy and vulnerable. The premium C-segment contenders are altogether different and rivalry with these bigwigs doesn’t bode well for Fiesta future. Ford, it seems, hasn’t learnt from its previous mistake as it is acting as a defiant child. By pricing top model of Fiesta bordering on Rs 10 lakh mark Ford has once again acted in defiance of ground realities. In terms of sales, we don’t expect Fiesta to set the charts on fire rather only a handful ones having great admiration for Fiesta looks and dynamics will sign on the dotted line.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3/5