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New Ford Fiesta - SA spec and prices

Ford South Africa has just released all the juicy details of its significantly updated Fiesta hatchback.

The upgrade entails a lot more than just a new front end with a large Aston Martin-like mouth - the range-toppers have an advanced new 1-litre engine and there's also an infusion of new technologies in the cabin.

CUTTING-EDGE MOTOR

Yes, you read that engine part correctly. The flagship engine, until the ST arrives, is a 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with just three cylinders.

Yet despite its miniscule displacement, Ford has managed to squeeze out 92kW at 6000rpm and 170Nm between 1400 and 4500rpm - 4kW and 18Nm more than the 1.6-litre engine it replaces. Ford claims a 9.4-second 0-100km/h sprint and 196km/h top speed.

The real talking point, however, is the claimed combined fuel consumption of 4.3 litres per 100km on the (albeit unrealistic) European test cycle, which equates to just 99g/km of CO2. That's just 5g/km more than the Toyota Prius. Technologies like idle-stop help it along in this respect.

It sounds wonderful on paper, but we'll reserve judgement until we've sampled the award-winning engine at the media launch in February.

For those that can't (or won't) stretch their budget to the new engine, Ford still offers the proven 71kW/125Nm 1.4 petrol and 70kW/200Nm 1.6-litre turbodiesel.

SYNC TECHNOLOGY

The cabin, which has undergone a few aesthetic revisions, also plays host to a technology invasion in the form of Ford's new Sync technology, which was recently introduced on the Focus.

It allows buyers to operate compatible music players and smart phones via voice commands or through the steering wheel controls. It can even read your text messages to you and it can recognise emoticons and abbreviations like LOL etc.

When fitted with a new gadget called MyKey, the Fiesta also allows parents to censor their kids' driving experience by limiting the top speed and the volume of the audio system - which is muted until seatbelts are fastened.

THE RANGE

Six models are offered and the 1.4 Ambiente base model is actually cheaper than before - down from R176 511 to R164 400. All is peachy until you realise that the aircon and radio have gone AWOL, and only retrievable if you transfer an extra R7460 and R6670 into Ford's bank account.

Standard features include dual front airbags, ABS brakes, front electric windows, heated electric mirrors and remote central locking.

Upgrade to a Trend model and the aircon, audio with Sync, My Key and all that becomes part of the package, along with an alarm system, trip computer, rear electric windows and 15-inch alloy wheels.

If you really want to go big on spec, there's also a Titanium trim level, which adds automatic climate control, cruise control, auto-folding mirrors, keyless start via a 'power' button, 16-inch alloys, side/curtain/driver's knee airbags and traction control.

But the top models are costly, as you'll see in the price list below. Prices include a four-year/60 000km service plan and 4-year/120 000km warranty.

THE BILL

1.4 Ambiente - R164 400

1.6 TDCi Ambiente - R178 400

1.4 Trend - R187 600

1.6 TDCi Trend - R201 400

1.0 Ecoboost Trend - R211 200

1.0 Ecoboost Titanium - R231 500

New Fiesta on video (when in Rome...)

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