With such good looks and such a cosseting interior, the Ford Fiesta is one of the most desirable mid-size sedans in India. Pity, then, that it has been a disappointment on the sales charts. The reasons are many—relatively high price, only available as a diesel, and an EcoSport standing right next to the Fiesta in a Ford showroom! But how good is the Fiesta as a car for daily usage? We find out.
The new Fiesta looks better than most other cars in its class. It is aerodynamically superior too—every crease on the body not only looks good, it makes the car more slippery, cutting through the air. The large front grille not only is a pretty face, it lets in a lot of air to cool the engine. (The grille makes the Fiesta look so Aston Martin!) For the few days we had the Fiesta with us, it grabbed eyeballs every time we took it on the road.
The Fiesta gets Ford’s voice-operated Sync system which includes Emergency Assist and AppLink. (In the unlikely event of an accident, Emergency Assist can help you connect with emergency services; and AppLink helps you connect with smartphone apps using simple voice commands.) The top-end variant gets automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors (there is no rear-view camera, though). There are so many buttons on the dashboard that you may take time understanding all the features at your disposal. While the front-seat experience is good—apart from technology and the upmarket feel, there is ample legroom and headroom—users of other mid-size sedans will find the rear cramped, add to that a limited headroom because of the sloping roof. The Fiesta’s rear space is not the best-in-class—bad because a large number of cars in this class in India are chauffeur-driven.
The Fiesta is one of the safest cars on Indian roads. Not only because it gets airbags and ABS as standard, but also because Ford has used boron steel in its construction—four times stronger than standard high strength steel, boron steel reinforces the car at key points. We suggest you check out Will It Blend?—a marketing campaign demonstrating the Blendtec line of blenders—in which Blendtec founder Tom Dickson attempts to blend unusual items to show off the power of his blender. When he tries to blend a chunk of boron steel as used in the Fiesta, he fails. (http://goo.gl/WE7cd9)
Unlike the previous generation which got both petrol and diesel engines, the new Fiesta gets only a diesel. There’s no automatic version either. This 1.5-litre TDCi motor produces 91 PS of peak power output with 205 Nm of torque. The ARAI-certified mileage is 25.01 kmpl. Driving in peak Delhi traffic we got a mileage of 15-17 kmpl, which increased to 25 kmpl on the highway (at steady 80 kmph). Ford says the new design reduces drag by 3%, translating into better fuel efficiency. The engine is not very quick initially, but once it crosses 2,000 rpm, the power delivery is consistent. The car feels stable in a straight line high-speed drive and is confident around corners.
The Fiesta is one of the most desirable mid-size sedans in India, yet it hasn’t been able to compete with Honda City, Hyundai Verna or Maruti Ciaz, or even the Volkswagen Vento. To the reasons we mentioned earlier—relatively high price (R8.5 lakh to R10.2 lakh), only available as a diesel, and an EcoSport standing right next to the Fiesta in the showroom—we add a cramped rear seating area and poor marketing. So, what can Ford do to sell the Fiesta in larger numbers? A few suggestions are:
Introduce a petrol variant. Because the Fiesta is clearly a driver’s car, a powerful petrol engine makes more sense. It will also reduce the entry-level sticker price, attracting more people towards it, some of whom may then consider the diesel variant too.
Train salesmen to spot the potential Fiesta buyer. We went to two Ford showrooms and saw the salesmen were focusing more on the EcoSport.
Clearly differentiate the Classic and the Fiesta. We found even people at the dealerships calling the Ford Classic as the Fiesta Classic, confusing the buyers.
What can Ford do to give the Fiesta more volumes
* Introduce a petrol variant. Because the Fiesta is clearly a driver’s car, a powerful petrol engine makes more sense. It will also reduce the entry-level sticker price, attracting more people towards it.
* Train salesmen to spot the potential Fiesta buyer. We went to two Ford showrooms and found that the salesmen were more interested in selling the EcoSport.
* Clearly differentiate the Classic and the Fiesta. Some people even at the dealerships called the Ford Classic as the Fiesta Classic. This may confuse the buyers.
(Prices are ex-showroom, Delhi)