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Ford Fiesta ECOnetic Review

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

Road Test

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

Model/Engine size: ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 76.3 mpg

The Ford Fiesta ECOnetic is officially the lowest emission five seat family car available in the UK, with just 98g/km of CO2. So does that mean it’s dreadful to drive?

If you’re considering buying one, you’ll be relieved to hear that the answer is no – the Fiesta ECOnetic manages to combine emissions of less than 100g/km CO2 with an excellent driving experience. Emitting less than 100g/km means free road tax. It also equates to 76mpg.

In a similar approach to the other ECOnetics in the Ford range, the engine management of this 1.6-litre diesel has been adjusted, it has longer gearing and lowered suspension – although only by 10mm, which doesn’t sound enough to make much difference to economy, but apparently it does, as well as helping to improve the handling marginally. The spare wheel has also been ditched in the quest for weight saving and there’s also an optimum gear change indicator, however by itself this won’t reduce emissions, as it obviously depends on driver behaviour.

As is common with many green cars, the Fiesta ECOnetic has low rolling resistance tyres, which are stiffer than normal tyres. Grip will always ultimately suffer with these tyres, however the Fiesta has a baseline advantage of excellent handling and responsive steering – together with a supple ride.

What it doesn’t have is six gears; the five speed box mean that it’s best for mixed driving than super economical motorway runs.

The Fiesta is modern, refined and has good levels of torque from its 89bhp diesel, meaning performance is good despite its excellent economy. The diesel engine can be noisy at low speeds, but it’s not intrusive in the way a VW Polo BlueMotion makes your ears hurt.

If you cover a lot of miles, the ECOnetic will be one of the cheapest cars to run. It’s also better looking and more fun to drive than its Polo BlueMotion rival; its handling and steering means it is genuinely enjoyable to thread through corners.

The styling is certainly modern and generally works well, however with those lines rising from the front to the back of the car, the designers seem to have struggled to know what to do to finish the lines off when they got to the rear; the back end doesn’t work as well as the front and side.

The interior is also modern, with its ‘mobile phone-inspired’ central dash. Whether that appeals or not is possibly a matter of taste, however the intention is to appeal to a younger age group rather than being a role model in exuding quality. Space in the Fiesta is good, but it’s more about style than ultimate practicality and versatility.

The Fiesta has good safety credentials with five NCAP stars for occupant protection, and it comes with Isofix child seat fittings as standard. However ESP is not standard, being a £300 extra.

Ford doesn’t have the best track record in reliability surveys, but neither does it have the worst. Similarly, depreciation on Fords often isn’t great, however it may be kinder to ECOnetic models.

And our main gripe? The Fiesta ECOnetic is relatively expensive – an entry-level 1.2-litre petrol, three-door Fiesta costs just £8,514 – the £12,445 ECOnetic costs £4000 more, yet sits on a set of wheels and those low rolling resistance tyres that look as though they should be on the cheapest model. The higher spec Fiestas look great, with their alloy wheels and sporty stance; this insistence on fitting green cars with wheels and tyres that make them look much lower down the food chain hopefully is a fad that will soon pass. And there’s no air conditioning – that’s an extra £500.

If having a decent set of wheels is not that important to you, then the Fiesta ECOnetic is a great car to drive; its torquey engine delivers good performance, its chassis delivers precise handling, and of course it offers 76mpg. If you were really keen to have the ultimate economy and a good looking car, then you could always fit a set of alloy wheels from a Zetec model and hope the people giving you free car tax don’t notice… not that we’re recommending that of course…

Fuel economy extra urban: 88.3 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 61.4 mpg

CO2 emissions: 98 g/km

Green rating: VED band A – £0

Weight: 1155 Kg

Company car tax liability (2008/09): 13%

Price: £12,445 (From £9,195 to £14,195)

Insurance group: 4

Safety: NCAP 5 stars

Max speed: 111 mph

0-62mph: 12.3 seconds