Tuesday 17 January 2012

Road - Ford's puddle jumper

I like the Ford Fiesta. And after last week I like it even more, which was odd, because when I first saw last week’s test car it was squatting on a set of giant alloys with elastic bands wrapped around them.

In other words, this was a car for small boys or testosteronised teens, not the more mature adult wishing to keep a low profile. Adding to the tinselised appeal was a set of twin chrome tipped exhaust pipes sticking out the back which provided quite a fruity sound when fired up. Nope, I thought this shrinking violet wasn’t going to enjoy this.

I was wrong. When the driver came to take it away this morning, I was really sorry to see it go.

Despite the fact that it was sitting on 205/40 x 17 Bridgestones the ride was surprisingly jolt-free even on the worst of Lanarkshire’s winter blighted roads. If Ford can make a car ride this well on such skimpy rubber, then why can’t others at twice the price?

The independent front suspension and twist beam rear axle provides a fairly firm ride, and yet the shock absorbers soaked up the bumps without any jarring or pitching around. It was both sporty and comfortable, and stuck to the road like chewing gum to the wean’s jersey.

Adding to the appeal was the latest 1.6 litre Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing) engine which produces a relatively modest 120 bhp and has a dual personality. It can be quite docile up to 3000 rpm, but once it hits 4000 rpm it starts to snarl like a terrier pup and sparkle like a glitter ball.

It’s not the fastest thing on four wheels, but it handles so well it feels as though it could cope with a lot more power, but seriously it has enough to provide a barrowload of fun and could probably put a smile on Victor Meldrew’s face.

If I was being nitpicky, I could criticise the tyres for ‘tracking’ and following undulations and white lines on the road, but the steering is so nice that it’s not really an issue. Coupled to this willing little engine, the five speed ‘box is a good match, and it doesn’t need a six speeder to get the best out of it.

In other words, Ford's done it again, and made a small car with big appeal.

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