This is the new Ford Fiesta, but you can’t have it until 2018

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In July this year, Ford unveiled the new Fiesta in summery, scenic, siesta-prone Spain. Europe’s getting four variants of the 2017 model, but here in South Africa we’ll only be seeing two of them, the Trend and Titanium series. What’s more, South African Fiesta fans will have to wait until Q2 of 2018 to get their hands on (and feet in) one, but going on what we experienced in Spain it’s going to be well worth the wait.

Spec fest

First up, let’s talk numbers. The models of the Fiesta we’ll be getting in South Africa will offer two engine options: the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol version and the 1.5-litre TDCI. The diesel will only be available in the Trend line and only with a manual transmission. The EcoBoost, meanwhile, will be available in both manual and automatic, and in both Trend and Titanium.

While we drove both petrol and diesel versions, its the EcoBoost that impressed us most. Ford’s done a superb job squeezing every bit of power from the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine while keeping it preposterously economical — 100kW, to be precise, along with 74Nm of torque. What does that get you? Well, it’ll shift you from 0-100km/h in around 10.5 seconds and top out at 183km/h. Nonetheless, combined fuel economy is an impressive 4.3l/100km, which means you shouldn’t have to fill up the 42-litre tank very often at all.

New dimension(s)

The new Fiesta is 71mm longer and 31mm wider than its predecessor, and Ford’s made some minor cosmetic adjustments to the exterior, most notably to the rear headlights — it has to look new to passersby, after all. Blessedly the Aston-like grille up front is still there, with the angles that’ve come to define all current Ford offerings’ front ends. There’s simply no mistaking which company made this car, even at a glance.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not complaining. The Fiesta is still one of the most attractive hatchbacks on the road in our opinion, and the 2017 iteration does nothing to change our mind. It looks — and more importantly, drives — like cars that cost a whole lot more than it does.

It’s what’s inside…

The bulk of the substantive updates to the Fiesta have taken place inside. The cabin feels more contemporary and refined, there’s a more voluminous boot complete with a false, elevated panel, and buyers can choose from a range of upholstery and trim options. Big spenders can look forward to a 10-speaker B&O Play sound system, a panoramic sunroof, rear-parking camera and parking assistance, 360-degree sensors, and other driver aids like radar-based cruise control and lane-keep assist.

You won’t have to spend too much to get one of the Fiesta’s best features, though. Its 8in Ford Sync3 touchscreen comes standard from around the middle of the range, and its probably worth stretching the budget a little to get it if you have to. Aside from the intuitive user interface and excellent voice recognition we’ve come to expect from Ford, Sync3 brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to the Fiesta, an impressive inclusion considering its likely starting price of around R150,000 (local pricing has yet to be confirmed).

Of course, Android Auto isn’t actually available in South Africa yet (thanks Google), but when it does arrive it’s good to know the new Fiesta will support it. If you’re an Apple user you’re covered with CarPlay from the word go. Oh great, another reason for Apple users to be smug.

On a related note, we’re amused to see Ford’s gone the Apple route and ditched the standard CD player. You can get one if you want, but not only will it cost you extra, it’ll be relegated to the Fiesta’s cubby hole. But considering the Bluetooth and USB connectivity on offer, we can’t imagine that many buyers will really want — let alone miss — a CD slot.

No snooze fest

Fiesta might rhyme with siesta, but there’s nothing sleepy about Ford’s latest outing. The front-wheel drive transmission and reworked suspension offer an impressively smooth ride whether you’re flinging it around narrow, rural Spanish roads like we were, or cruising down the highway.

Particularly impressive is the peppiness of the 1.0-litre variant, though the 1.5-litre TDCI is no slouch, either. Which you choose will likely come down to how much each costs, whether you prefer manual or automatic gearboxes, and, well, your general preferences when it comes to diesel or petrol. We’re all about the petrol version, but that’s also because we favour handling the gear changes ourselves.

The Fiesta’s highly responsive steering also makes for a compelling drive, and there’s surprisingly little cabin noise, even at speed. Passengers should also enjoy themselves, with the rear seats handling three normal-sized adults comfortably.

It’s easy to see why Ford sells Fiestas in droves: they’re superb value and incredibly enjoyable to drive. The 2017 iteration is unlikely to be any different. We’ll likely have to wait another generation for a major cosmetic overhaul, but if you’re keen on Ford and due an upgrade, the 2017 Fiesta is an excellent choice… even if you’ll only actually be able to get it in 2018.

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