Kei-cars aside, before Ford, hardly anyone has broken the litre barrier with a turbocharged engine in a ‘full’ sized car, not even the miniaturisation experts Mini. While the new Captur crossover looks to be making a splash, Renault’s 1.0-litre Clio isn’t appearing on the horizon any time soon.
That is partly the fault of high COE prices of course – if they were lower no doubt Singapore would be full of smaller, more fun-packed cars, but it’s good to know that for now, things have improved such that a business case for a 998cc compact Euro hatch can be made: The Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost.
This model replaces the old Fiesta 1.4 (naturally aspirated) but also looks a little different thanks to a mild facelift, with the most obvious feature being an almost Aston Martin style grille on the front. That and the slightly jutting chin make it look a bit more mature, although the unavoidable, rounded compact hatch shape is still present.
Two variants are on sale now, the Trend and Titanium, with the latter being Ford’s standard designation for the higher grade trim, and it’s the model you see here. The metallic implications are reflected in the increased use of chrome trim (outlining the greenhouse) and LED DRLs plus halogen projector headlamps. Other additions include cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, a leather steering wheel, automatic climate control and 15-inch alloy wheels (as compared to steel). In its signature shade of Hot Magenta, it’s hard to miss, although there are new colour choices this time too.
Stepping into the machine, there’s a visible improvement in build quality, with the plastics seeming less plastic and the controls less clicky too. It all seems sturdy enough, we would put it somewhere above French and below German in the quality scale. Ford’s Sync infotainment system now has a wider range of functions, and it’s quite impressive, contrary to barebones compact hatchdom, with voice control, Bluetooth telephony and streaming as well.
The triple-cylinder 1.0-litre engine is pretty much on par with VW’s 1.2-litre blown four, at 100bhp and 170Nm (2bhp and 5Nm down on the German) but in the light-footed Fiesta, it transforms the car into something a little firecracker.
It behaves like a small, perky diesel, rabbiting and snorting from one point to another with grin-including immediacy, a feeling back up by the enjoyable steering and good handling. Understeer is there, but shows only when pushing hard, and the Fiesta even encourages some of that, squealing and digging in when the pace turns up, but not bucking under the pressure.
Ford’s strengths of delivering a good chassis balance, handling and fun-to-drive character are all present in spades, although there are some downsides. Bumps can cause the suspension, especially the rear, to feel a bit overwhelmed and it begins to pogo in segments with multiple bumps, while the brakes are decent and ABS-equipped of course, they’re a bit weak when it comes to pedal feel.
We had quite a lot of fun behind the wheel, but upon stopping we did notice the fuel consumption standing rather high for a supermini – your mileage may obviously vary but the official quote of 6.6L/100km stands in contrast to 5.3L/100km for the Jazz 1.5 and 5.0L/100km for the Golf 1.2 (the Polo having been phased out, pre-facelift).
Like the larger S-Max and Galaxy MPVs though, the Ford Fiesta punches above its weight when it comes to fun, and that, in conjunction with the improved features and quality, make it an interesting choice of compact hatch.
Ford Fiesta EcoBoost 1.0
Engine 998cc, 16V, inline 3, turbocharged
Power 100bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 170Nm at 1400-4000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 180km/h
0-100kmh 10.8 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.6L/100km
Price $118,999 with COE
Also Consider: Honda Jazz 1.3, Volkswagen Polo 1.2