Bangkok Post: Published: 16/07/2012 at 02:10 AM Newspaper section: Life
The Fiesta now comes with a new 1.5-litre engine to attract first-time car buyers. But is it cool?WHAT'S NEW?
Ford's B-segment Fiesta gets a new and third petrol engine model in its line-up: a 109hp, 1.5-litre complementing the 95hp 1.4-litre and 121hp 1.6-litre.
That certainly sounds confusing, as to why Ford Thailand is offering three motors so similar in size.
Here's why. When the government adopted the first-time car buyer scheme last year _ whereby tax discounts are given to cars with engines less than 1,500cc _ the Fiesta couldn't attract as much attention as Ford would have wanted.
Sure, there was the 1.4-litre Fiesta, but its production was very small, unlike the 1.6-litre which Ford concentrated on instead.
That's why the 1.5-litre popped up from nowhere. People at Ford say this engine is not shared with the one used in the Mazda 2 and comes from an Indian Ford model, only that the manual gearbox has been replaced with an automatic to make it more relevant for the Thai market.
Sources at Ford added that the 1.4 and 1.6 will eventually be phased out, which makes sense because rivals like the 2, Honda City and Toyota Vios offer only a 1.5-litre engine.WHAT'S COOL?
There’s no telling outside this is a 1.5.
Although the 1.5-litre engine and six-speed dual-clutch automatic combination sprung to life hastily, there are several things to like about it.
It's generally refined at all engine speeds, accelerates away from the lights with ease and is frugal with a 14-17kpl economy rating _ enough to make the City look like a gas-guzzler.
The other good bits of the Fiesta pertain to the qualities it has inherited since its inception: class-leading handling and ride balance, big and versatile luggage capacity and solid build quality for the interior components.WHAT'S NOT?
It appears the engine and gearbox combination only works well when driven gently.
Prod the throttle too hard and the engine ponders whether to lurch forward or not. Also, it feels quite breathless during overtaking (lacking torque) and gear-shifting becomes unusually jerky at the engine's redline.
It certainly isn't a match made in heaven. Other than that, there's nothing to fault the Fiesta, except for just one more thing. Okay, this is subjective, but we'll go the extra mile to say that the Fiesta saloon _ despite its spacious boot _ has a rear end that's ugliest of all B-segment saloons in Thailand.
Fortunately, you can also have the 1.5-litre engine specced into the hatchback version which is, conversely, the prettiest car of all hatches. But the five-door costs 10,000 baht more than the four-door.BUY OR BYE?
Despite some peculiarities of the engine and gearbox, the Fiesta should work effectively in the hands of most first-time car buyers who need a well-rounded B-segment saloon placing economy over performance.
If you can live with the flaws of this Fiesta 1.5, you are bound to end up in a car with dynamic abilities to boast over the 2 and City, and especially over the so-yesteryear Vios.
However if you're not attracted to mere monetary discounts and need more sophistication, we recommend the 1.6-litre Fiesta.
And even though this comes at a price, the 740,000 baht Sport Plus version of the Fiesta hatchback _ filled with class-leading safety features _ is a handsome way to go for a B-car in Thailand.