Road test: Tough or touchy-feely – New Fiesta caters for all

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The Ford Fiesta Vignale


Ford has been having a bit of a new model fiesta with its best-selling small car, the Fiesta.

It’s a model that has dominated the sales charts for years and it’s not surprising, given that the car is perfectly placed to win the hearts and minds of the army of private buyers who drive the market for cars in the supermini sector.

But now the appeal has been extended still further. The many buyers who like their Fiesta well-equipped have probably been ready to step beyond the temptations of the Titanium X trim for some time so for them there is Vignale, the Fabergé egg of small cars.

Pop it open and the interior is positively bejewelled. You get the quilted leather trim and metallic splashes that mark out a luxury car these days, although not to the excessive Bentley-esque degree that converts them to bling.

In fact, the Fiesta Vignale with Ford’s 1.0 litre 100 PS three cylinder engine proved mighty attractive in this car, especially when coupled to Ford’s six-speed automatic transmission. This little engine has been winning International Engine of the Year awards for years because nothing has yet come along that does the job better. It is, indeed, a hard act to follow.

When you have a car like the Vignale, there’s no need, or desire, to rush your journey although when time’s pressing this car can deliver the performance you need. Far better to relax with the B&O premium sound system turned up a bit and let your favourite music help the miles waft by, as the test car from Edwards Ford in Salisbury clearly showed.

A good thing about it is that even with the volume pumped up and the doors vibrating with bass, there’s no buzz or distortion from the speakers. Way back, we drove a Bentley R Type Continental fitted with a fantastic sound system as a demonstrator for Alpine and the Vignale with its B&O system was equally as enjoyable. It shows how far sound engineering has come for modern cars.

It helps that the car itself is enjoyable. The Fiesta has always been an easy drive but at the same time it’s an interesting one that handles well. Even better to be enveloped in those plush hide-trimmed chairs you might think and you won’t be wrong. But the other new addition to the Fiesta range, the Active, has a tougher, but no less appealing, fabric finish with bright features to liven up the interior that match the flashes of exterior colour and are thoroughly ready for the school of hard knocks where small children seem to learn about life, as we found when we swapped test cars at Edwards Ford.

Inside the Ford Fiesta Active

The exterior is equally well prepared because when others’ children (never your own!) grow into adults their habits seem little better when their car gets near yours! Special trim all round, including vulnerable wheel arches, lets you know this is the first of Ford’s tough new Active range to arrive – here soon will be KA+ Active and, later this year, Focus Active.

But the Fiesta Active is also as physically tough as it looks thanks to its three selectable drive modes, Eco, Normal, and Slippery which are enabled via the sensors already built into the car’s electronic stability programme (ESP) and hill start assist and let the car cope with difficult on- and off-road conditions.

However, it’s equally well equipped to deal with on road conditions, with safety boosted by such clever kit as lane-keeping technology, tyre pressure monitoring, and the Quickclear heated windscreen that helps ensure visibility is at its best on cold or damp days. The new Fiesta – BBC Top Gear magazine’s Supermini of the Year and Carbuyer’s Car of the Year – is already one of the safest small cars on the market with a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Fiesta Active also features dramatic and dynamic colour schemes, and the option of a two-part panoramic sliding roof on the Active 1 and Active X models; the Fiesta Active B&O PLAY stands out with a distinctive black roof with black roof rails plus a B&O PLAY premium audio system with 360-degree sound and 10 speakers similar to that in the Vignale. Really active families can have their own campsite disco if, like us, your best music is contained within a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

Going green in the countryside can be enabled by a choice of low CO2 output petrol and diesel engines – our test car had the 125 PS version of the EcoBoost three cylinder engine mated to a six speed manual gearbox and it was a pleasure to drive with its 50 mpg everyday fuel consumption achieved with no effort.

At last here’s an easy way to get kids to enjoy their greens – green fields, green trees, and a greener, low impact lifestyle! And until the end of June, there’s a £2,000 discount when you qualify for Ford’s scrappage scheme.

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Car: Ford Fiesta 1.0 100PS Vignale automatic and Fiesta 1.0 125 PS Active B&O PLAY

Does it fit your ego wallet…

Price: £21,845 (Vignale automatic), £19,695 (Active B&O PLAY)

Combined: 54.3 mpg (Vignale automatic), 65.7 mpg (Active B&O PLAY)

CO2 emissions: 118 g/km (Vignale automatic), 98 g/km (Active B&O PLAY)

Best bits: something for everyone

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