With an updated design, more features and an attractive price tag, the facelifted Ford Fiesta is out to reclaim lost ground

Since its launch in 2011, Ford’s Fiesta hasn’t made a dent in the mid-size sedan category. Although the Fiesta was engaging to drive and mechanically sound, its cramped back seat, poorly finished interiors and lacklustre motors held it back. Add to that an inflated price tag. In an increasingly competitive segment, corrections in price did little to undo past misjudgments and bring the Fiesta back in contention. Now, Ford has a substantial facelift for the Fiesta which could revive its fortunes. So, can it?

Good design can override logical considerations and swing purchase decisions. The new Fiesta is perfectly poised to take advantage of this fact. Ford’s Kinetic design is expressed eloquently through new lines that give the Fiesta a sporty yet sophisticated face. The huge trapezoidal airdam that dominated the Fiesta’s face has morphed into the striking hexagonal Aston Martin-like grille. Adding some swagger is the power dome that juts out of the bonnet. The new sharp and slim design for the headlamps escalates the aggression further. The rear still isn’t the Fiesta’s best angle; however, a new crispness to the lines manages to alleviate the awkwardness of the high boot a fair bit. Smart creases and a spoiler lip sharpen the boot design. The tail-lamps have been redesigned to look like more premium LED units.

Ford has tried to improve the experience in the cabin as well. While the design is the same, new colours and finishes have been used to improve perceived quality. The glossy black finish for the centre console is a nice highlight on the top-end Titanium variant. All variants though get the contrasting colours for the dashboard and the lighter colour for the seat fabric improves the airiness in the cabin. However, there are no structural changes, so the back seat experience is still hampered by the low-set seat and poor leg room.

On the technology front, you get the latest generation of Microsoft’s SYNC infotainment system that also bundles Emergency Assist. Apart from better voice recognition, the system debuts AppLink in India. AppLink lets approved phone apps provide information via the in-car systems. The Titanium variant also includes more kit than before like automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors. The Fiesta does not offer a reversing camera or a sunroof, while leather seats are available as an accessory.

At the time of launch, Ford is offering the facelifted Fiesta only with the diesel motor. Mechanically, there has been no change to the 1.5 DuraTorq motor. However, improvements in drivetrain and aero efficiency have increased the company claimed fuel efficiency to 25.1kpl, second only to the Honda City i-DTEC’s 26kpl! On the road, the 90bhp motor feels bland but hassle free. Unsurprisingly, it is familiar to drive, and is at its best once past 2,000rpm. However, the surge of torque isn’t particularly strong or long lived. Sadly, as before, this engine lacks the bottom-end responsiveness of the 1.4 DuraTorq on which it is based. Rowing through the five-speed gearbox is a pleasure.

In a bid to improve insulation, Ford has improved rubber seals and even used stiffer bushes for the rear twist beam. The cabin feels pretty quiet at normal speeds, but the rumble from the engine is audible when you push it hard. On our drive, the Fiesta was as engaging to steer as ever. The electric steering changed weight smartly according to the speed. The positive turn in and stability at high speeds begs for it to be driven hard. And, although the ride is firm, it will be quite usable on your commute to work.

So, can the Fiesta climb to the top of the mid-size sedan heap? The updated styling should help to this end. Then there’s the competitive pricing. Prices for the revamped Fiesta range from Rs 7.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the new base Ambiente trim (it gets ABS and a driver side airbag) to Rs 9.29 lakh for the top-spec Titanium version featured here. These prices do make the Fiesta cheaper than some of the competition but then it does miss out on a few top-spec features. What is a bigger sore point though is the lack of exciting petrol power, which would have given the enthusiasts something to lust after. However, Ford will introduce petrol power later this year. Until then, the Fiesta facelift will be a great option for those looking for a diesel sedan that they intend to enjoy from behind the wheel.

Ford Fiesta facelift

Price:Rs 7.69-9.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Length:4320mm

Width:1764mm

Height:1486mm

Wheelbase: 2489mm

Engine: 4-cyls, 1498cc, turbo diesel

Layout: Front, transverse, FWD

Power:89.8bhp at 3750rpm

Torque: 21.71kgm at 4500rpm

Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Suspension (f/r): Independent,

MacPherson struts/

Non-independent, torsion beam

Brakes (f/r): Ventilated discs/drums

Tyre size: 195/60 R15

Fuel tank: 40 litres

Boot capacity: 430 litres