Johannesburg - The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta, launched in South Africa this week, is the first all-new Fiesta in almost 10 years.

It’s also taken a step upmarket, with the previous entry-level Ambiente trim grade falling away, leaving Trend and Titanium as the only local trim options. Pricing is also on the premium side of the scale, ranging between R261 900 and R310 600.

Building off a successful formula - the Fiesta is Ford’s best selling passenger car globally and one of the top selling hatchbacks in South Africa - the new B segment hatch takes an evolutionary approach to design. It’s instantly recognisable as a Fiesta, just a little smoother around the edges, with the biggest design departure being the switch to horizontal taillights.

It is quite a bit bigger, with overall length growing by 71mm, the wheelbase by 4mm and width by 13mm. Ford claims to have improved rear knee room by 16mm, while boot space is up from 276 litres to 303 litres. Torsional stiffness has been improved by 15 percent, and the quantity of high-strength boron steel has increased by 36 percent.

Under the hood, the acclaimed 1-litre EcoBoost turbo-triple continues as the mainstay of the range, while a frugal new 1.5-litre turbodiesel joins the range.

The 1.0T petrol produces 74kW and 170Nm in three of the four models it’s offered in - those being the Trend six-speed manual and the six-speed torque converter automatic versions of the Trend and Titanium. Only the manual Titanium gets the full-fat 92kW tuning, with the same maximum torque figure of 170Nm.

The 1.5 TDCi oil burner is offered exclusively in Trend guise, with a six-speed manual gearbox, and for this one Ford quotes outputs of 63kW and 175Nm.

Where previous Fiesta owners are going to notice the biggest difference is inside, where the previous Nokia 3310-inspired dash makes way for a completely modern facia with fewer buttons, thanks to high-mounted touchscreens that incorporate Ford’s latest-generation Sync 3 operating system, which features ‘conversational’ voice command and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The latter is standard on all models, although Trend derivatives get a smaller 16.5cm screen and six speakers, while the Titanium is fitted with a 20.3cm screen, standard navigation, seven speakers as well as pinch and swipe functionality.

What are the other spec differences then?

Trend models roll on 16-inch alloy wheels, and standard interior amenities include manual air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, auto headlights and reverse parking sensors. Safety kit comprises of six airbags, hill-start assist and electronic stability and traction control.

The Titanium upgrades to 17-inch alloys and a chrome grille, and also gains heated sports seats upfront, auto climate control, cruise control, keyless entry and start, leather steering wheel, overhead console and auto windscreen wipers.

All cars are sold with a four-year/60 000km service plan and four-year/120 000km warranty.

FORD FIESTA PRICES

1.0T Trend manual 74kW/170Nm R261 900
1.0T Trend auto 74kW/170Nm R277 300
1.5 TDCi Trend manual 63kW/175Nm R292 500
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium manual 92kW/170Nm R295 900
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium auto74kW/170Nm R310 600

ALTERNATIVES

Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid74kW/133NmR261 900
Kia Rio hatch 1.4 EX74kW/135NmR257 495
Mazda2 1.5 Dynamic82kW/145NmR235 100
Mazda2 1.5 Individual Plus82kW/145NmR292 000
Opel Corsa 1.0T Enjoy85kW/170NmR256 429
Opel Corsa 1.4T Sport110kW/220NmR289 316
Peugeot 208 1.2T GT Line81kW/205NmR269 900
Renault Clio 0.9T Expression66kW/140NmR229 900
Renault Clio 1.2T GT Line88kW/205NmR269 900
Toyota Yaris 1.5 Xs79kW/140NmR255 800
VW Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline70kW/175NmR264 700
VW Polo 1.0 TSI Highline85kW/200NmR286 200

IOL Motoring