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Ford Fiesta review – still the best supermini? - Engine and gearbox

The new Ford Fiesta has grown up with improved refinement and updated interior tech yet still offers class-leading driving dynamics.

Evo rating
Price
from £13,165
  • Adjustable chassis, punchy Ecoboost engines, ST-Line styling, interior tech
  • Some poor interior trim, lacklustre low end petrols, Vignale models expensive

Engine and gearbox

The three-cylinder 1.1-litre normally aspirated versions are the two engines we’ve yet to sample in the Fiesta, but as we’ve seen, their lacklustre performance has little to recommend them to evo readers, especially when you consider that the more powerful Ecoboost engines offer better performance with no penalty at the pumps or in emissions figures either.

For the first time in the Fiesta, Ford is offering a higher-powered diesel version in the 120PS model which offers 118bhp and 199lb ft of torque. The 1.5-litre TDCi engine is a SOHC two-valve per cylinder unit that employs an optimised combustion chamber design with a variable geometry turbocharger and high pressure injection – it also offers regenerative charging when braking and coasting. It’s mated to a six-speed manual that’s slick in operation.

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On the move the diesel is a pleasant companion once warmed up and while in the past less than five per cent of Fiesta buyers have opted for the diesel model this higher output unit may change some buyer’s behaviour. At a cruise on the motorway it’s refined and has more than enough shove to accelerate briskly without the need for a downchange.

> Click here for our Mazda 2 review

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Ford expects most buyers to opt for one of the Ecoboost models and it’s not hard to see why. With high pressure direct injection, four-valves per cylinder and twin-independent variable cam technology these Fiestas punch beyond their weight. Ford also reckons its offset crankshaft design on the Ecoboost engine offers excellent refinement, and in general it’s correct. The engine only feels a little coarse for a short period after a cold start.

Once warmed through though it’s an excellent unit and even in its 100PS guise proves to be an entertaining companion. This is the only engine that can be mated with the six-speed automatic (the 125 and 140 models both use the six-speed manual) and while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the auto its shift speeds aren’t the fastest (although they are smooth) and the steering-wheel mounted paddles are so small that you can struggle to find them.

It’s the 125 and 140 models that are the best option and while the higher powered model is the pick of the range there doesn’t feel a huge margin between them. Both are keen to rev and have a pleasant warble as you go higher up the rev range and while neither are going to set the world on fire they’re very well suited to the car’s chassis with enough power to bring it alive. 

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