Few compromises on this eco Ford

 
Ryan Borroff
With fuel economy figures of 78.5mpg, Ford’s Fiesta Econetic model is not just the most economical model in Ford’s range but one of the most frugal cars on sale anywhere. This is one reason why I am not overly excited to drive it: in my experience, most super-economical and green cars are lacking enjoyment-wise. Which is hardly surprising, when so many of them have had their hearts ripped out in order to achieve the greenest figures possible.

And, with very low emission figures of just 87g/km of CO2, Ford’s Fiesta Econetic is certainly one of the greenest Superminis around. For this Econetic model, Ford has tweaked its ever popular Fiesta to incorporate an engine stop/start system and regenerative braking. It has revised the car’s gear ratios to improve economy, lowered the suspension and improved on the body styling so that it’s more aerodynamic. Low rolling resistance tyres complete a package of “improvements” that ensure this Fiesta model is as efficient as possible. There’s even an “Eco” mode, which provides feedback about your driving style and a shift indicator in the instrument cluster which advises when the optimal time is to change gear to maximise fuel economy.

Sheesh. Be still my beating heart. I curmudgeonly turn the ignition key and expect the worst. One week of dull motoring here I come.

The sound of its 1.6 TDCi engine at startup is lumpy to say the least. I have driven tractors that are kinder on the ear than this. But then comes the first surprise. Once underway, the engine is far more pleasantly resonant. In fact, moving through the City, I discover two things over the course of a week. The Fiesta Econetic is surprisingly nippy and enjoyable to drive. It grows on me so much that my initial impressions do a quick about-face.

It isn’t perfect. The Fiesta Econetic can be noisy under acceleration and, on the motorway, can sometimes require the dropping of a gear. But this car has enough power available in almost all situations. The economical longer gearing hasn’t dampened the driving experience much. In fact, I struggled to find a normal driving scenario when the engine was overly stretched.

This gives the Fiesta Econetic a distinct advantage over many of its competitors – you’re not constantly reminded of the compromise you’ve made to achieve such exceptional fuel economy. In fact, most of the time you’re unaware you’re driving an eco model at all. Another advantage is its looks. In recent years this Ford Fiesta has frequently been named the most stylish supermini you can buy. I don’t rate it that highly but it’s definitely up there.

The interior of the Fiesta is very good, too. Ours was kitted out in top spec titanium trim which felt well-built and surprisingly upmarket. The driving position is good and it is certainly roomy enough for four adults. I didn’t like the plastic used for the climate control dials but otherwise there was not much to dislike. All in all, this seemed like a decent car with surprisingly few compromises made in the pursuit of economy and emissions cleanliness and it’s more fun to drive than it ought to be.

The drawback: the Fiesta Econetic is expensive. This is particularly true if you buy the top level trim. You’re also unlikely to retain real-world fuel economy figures that are as good as Ford claims. I suspect 60mpg is far more likely, which is still very, very good. But you’ll need to be sure you’re doing enough miles to reap the benefits of its economy.

THE FACTS:
FORD FIESTA ECONETIC

PRICE: £16,795
0-62MPH: 12.9 secs
TOP SPEED: 111mph
CO2 G/KM: 87g/km
MPG COMBINED: 78.5mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN ****
PERFORMANCE ****
PRACTICALITY ****
VALUE FOR MONEY **