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Week at the wheel: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.

Week at the wheel: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic
There was always a risk that altering the class-leading Fiesta in the goal of economy would ruin it; it hasn't.

 



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| Week at the wheel | Ford Fiesta ECOnetic |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

At first glance, there's little to distinguish the ECOnetic model from other Fiestas in the ranks of Ford's supermini range. It has the same neat styling and crisp lines. However, peer closer and you'll see the ECOnetic sits 10mm lower to the ground, which is the same amount as the sporty Zetec S model, though in the ECOnetic's case it's to do with improving efficiency rather than handling. There are also rear wind deflectors to better manage the flow of air over and around the Fiesta for less drag to help with fuel economy, while underneath there's a shroud around the engine to also help lower drag. Take a peek at the tyres and you'll see they are low rolling resistance items.

On the inside, the ECOnetic again looks much like any other Fiesta, with its cleverly detailed dash, comfortable seats and plenty of space in the front. Adult rear seat passengers will find legroom a little tight, but otherwise the Fiesta is a match for any rival on the space front. The only giveaway for the ECOnetic model inside is the gear shift indicator on the dash to tell the driver the optimum time to change gear for the best economy. As for the boot, there's no spare wheel as Ford deems it excess weight and an enemy of economy, but the boot itself is the same size as any other Fiesta's.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

The 1.6-litre turbodiesel powering the ECOnetic model is not the full bore 109bhp unit we've been used to seeing in other Ford models. In its place, we have an 89bhp common rail turbodiesel that makes a relatively relaxed 150lb.ft of torque. In not overstraining the engine for ultimate power and push, Ford has pulled off a masterstroke. It may not be lightning quick off the mark - 0-62mph takes 12.3 seconds and top speed is 111mph - but the ECOnetic feels incredibly flexible and relaxed. The acceleration is sufficient to stay with traffic away from the lights and on the motorway there's no need to swap down a gear to keep up.

Let the Fiesta ECOnetic do its stuff in the top ratio of its five-speed manual gearbox and it will happily propel you along with no fuss, no drama and barely any noise. Use the gears a bit more and the engine remains refined and it's quite happy to spool up to the red line without recourse to coarseness. The five-speed manual gearbox is every bit as slick, light and accurate to operate as we've come to know and love from Ford gear shifts. A revised final drive ratio helps lower the revs at any given speed compared to a standard comparable Fiesta.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

It's a Fiesta, so the ECOnetic does corners better than any other fuel miser supermini. This is a fact of life. The Fiesta is the best driving supermini money can buy and switching the suspension to economy settings by lowering it 10mm has done nothing to undermine this. If anything, the ECOnetic feels even more sublimely sure-footed around corners than other base model Fiestas so you can carry more speed, brake less and save more fuel. What a brilliant principle: make a car that's more fun and involving to drive to save fuel. Ford, we applaud you.

Along with the twinkle-toed handling, the Fiestas steering is spot on. The electric assistance doesn't rob it of feel yet it gives just the right amount of help whether parking in a tight space or swapping lanes on the motorway. Throw in a ride that offers superb control with top rank comfort, as well as excellent refinement, and you have a supermini package that can easily fool you into thinking this is a car from one or two classes above.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

To endow the ECOnetic with its superb 76.3mpg combined economy and 98g/km carbon dioxide emissions, Ford has made some changes to the spec. There's a reprogrammed ECU, low rolling resistance tyres, altered final drive ratio and the various aerodynamic aids mentioned above. However, the ECOnetic also does without standard air conditioning, which helps lower the price when compared to a 1.6 TDCi Zetec model. Go for air con as an option and the price is the same as the Zetec, though the Zetec has standard alloy wheels where the ECOnetic makes do with steel wheels and plastic trims. However, we're not going to carp on too much as the ECOnetic can manage more than 750 miles between fuel fills and during our week with the car the fuel gauge needle moved oh-so slowly over more than 400 miles of driving. Group 4 insurance is reasonable too and choosing the five-door model over the three-door only adds 300 to the final bill. The Fiesta ECOnetic is more expensive than some rivals, but it also looks set to hold its value very well to help offset this.

Overall: star star star star star

We were already big fans of the Ford Fiesta thanks to its natty looks, comfort and, of course, the class-defining way it drives. With the ECOnetic, Ford has retained all of the essential bits we love about the Fiesta while bringing superb economy and emissions to the mix. Our only reason for not awarding the Fiesta ECOnetic a coveted full five-star rating is the price: it's notably more than rivals from SEAT and Skoda. That said, if we were to put our cash where our cakehole is, we'd plump for the Fiesta.

Alisdair Suttie - 25 Sep 2009









  www.ford.co.uk    - Ford road tests
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2009 Ford Fiesta ECOnetic specifications: (1.6 TDCi DPF 5dr)
Price: 14,095 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 12.3 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
Combined economy: 76.3mpg
Emissions: 98g/km
Kerb weight: 1166kg

Full technical specifications

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.



2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Econetic. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 






 

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