On the East Coast Road
It was a sultry afternoon in Chennai. And a roadside with no trees on either side of the road, was not a good place to be in at this temperature. I waited as sweat beads slowly trickled down my forehead.
The sighting of a car painted in Ford’s signature shade and the ringing of my mobile happened simultaneously. It was my colleagues checking to make sure I was where I was supposed to be – waiting for them at the roadside.
The new Ford Fiesta rolled to a stop next to me. Maybe we should give it a name similar to the new Verna which is called the ‘fluidic’ Verna, I thought. I began to wonder how ‘kinetic’ Fiesta would sound.
The kinetic energy exuberated by the Fiesta was not convincing enough to challenge the powerful thermal energy from the Sun, which meant we decided to do all the talking after we were inside the car and into realm of the air conditioner.
There was only one place where we could get a feel of this car in Chennai at this time of the day. The three of us headed to ECR against the backdrop of the setting sun.
We reached ECR and decided it was time to evaluate the physical traits of the car. A good long look at the car and I felt the design was striking at the front, with the striking-ness withering as you walk towards the rear of the car. Something which makes you ask the question if this was a hatchback first. Which incidentally, is true. But it is not like the Dzire and Manza where the boot feels as if it was welded on as an afterthought. It is just that the same design fizziness is missing at the rear when compared to the front.
If you are interested in knowing more about the design language and the engine of the Fiesta, please do check out our dedicated sections on Engineering and Design on pages 3 and 4 of this article.
Initial feel inside the car– well laid out controls, chunky steering wheel with the controls for audio and cruise control (as we had got the Titanium variant). Hop on to the driver’s seat and one can feel the bolstered seats almost immediately. I then tried the height and length adjustments of the driver’s seat. The height adjustment was an amusing experience as you have to pump a lever as the height steadily rises. This felt like a massage to the back and the pumping was a good exercise to the arms.
The central console, designed after gadgets these times, has panels painted silver, not unlike how the rest of the body panels are painted. Quality of the other plastics though – disappointing, in one word. The glovebox felt flimsy, the plastics were too, err… ‘plasticky’. Not that it was bad but we don’t expect this in a car in this segment. One look at the interiors of the Vento and you know what we mean.
We then tried playing around with the by now famous voice activation system. We were able to set the temperature on the climate controlled AC without much of a vocal effort. We will have more on this and the sound system later.
One of my colleagues was already not happy where he was – at the back bench, saying it was not as good as his second generation Honda City. We decided to check it out and understood what the complaining was about. Even though Ford’s are known to be ‘driver’s cars’ their treatment of the rear benchers has always been questioned. Both the Ikon and Fiesta did not have great rear leg room. The Figo was the car which helped their case by being more generous to large families. But things haven’t remained the same with the new Fiesta. The rear leg room is still just adequate.
As we moved on ECR, we came across a side road which led to the sea. This road looked like it was going to be a good test for the ride of the car. We turned into it and were amazed at how well mannered the car was on the undulated road. The high ground clearance gives you the confidence to let the car run over the potholes at pretty decent speeds.
Coming to what’s under the hood, the Fiesta now comes with an all new 1.5 litre petrol engine which generates around 110PS. So the engine is smaller than the previous Fiesta but makes more power. Wow… That might translate into more fun on the road, I had said aloud. We couldn’t wait to find out.
We let the car sprint the moment we encountered an empty stretch of the road. And sprint it did. But in a controlled, less aggressive manner. This is in spite if this being the petrol car and of course this is not what the previous generation Fiesta was known for. No necks pinned to the headrest, no adrenalin pumping surge…
That is when we got the feeling that the look of this car does not complement the engine that it has. It is evident that Ford has played it safe when it came to the pricier fuel. It has tried to find the balance between outright performance and fuel efficiency, two parameters which are almost mutually exclusive. Not that this is a bad thing considering the current prices of petrol. But fans of the previous generation Fiesta might feel slightly disappointed. With these thoughts in mind, we watched the sun set and decided to head back to the city and into thick traffic.
The traffic meant we could test another facet of the car – how it behaved in choke block situations. The first thing that you realise is that even though the low range grunt is not mind blowing, it is more than adequate to keep the car rolling along in second and third gears. Fuel efficiency was shown as 10.5 to 11.5 while navigating through traffic which was appreciable for a petrol car.
My colleagues then dropped me home, after we having decided that tomorrow was the highway day where we would test high speeds and handling among others.
Cruising the by lanes of Chennai
At dawn the next day, as we were traversing some of Chennai’s posh localities towards the highway, a thought struck us.
It actually hit us while we were taking pictures of the car at various places. The kinetic design seemed to complement certain backgrounds better than others. Parked in a dusty road, next to old buildings, it seems futuristic. Seemingly out of place. But parked next to a snazzy new mall or shopping complex with geometrical shapes and lots of glass panes and windows, it seems to be perfectly at home. Take a look at some of the images let us know if you agree!