Ford Fiesta Powershift Review

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The Ford Fiesta is a terrific little car and all of its variants offer good value. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine revolutionised the small car market, but it was lacking one key thing: the option of an automatic gearbox. We drive the Ford Fiesta Powershift and see if it's any good.

I never met a Ford Fiesta I didn't like. My girlfriend has a 1.4 Ambiente which is nice and I have had both the terrific Fiesta ST and 1.0-litre Ecoboost on test. I still think the Ford Fiesta is one of the better looking small cars as it's smart and funky, and hasn't lost any of its appeal. I was offered the chance to drive the automatic Ford Fiesta Powershift 1.0-litre and I think it's one of the best city cars. What's more important is what lies under the bonnet.

Engine

The award-winning 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is a work of engineering genius. It makes driving a small car fun, yet won't destroy economy. Admittedly the little turbocharged and direct-injected motor is detuned in the Ford Fiesta Powershift, but it still feels enthusiastic. Power has been dropped from 92 kW down to 74 kW, but in reality it doesn't feel slower.

Torque is still rated at 170 Nm and comes on strong from the get go. Ford claims a fuel economy figure of under 5l/100km, but as I hard as I tried, I couldn't get it under 6l/100km. It's not a trainsmash as it's still a commendable figure.

Gearbox and drive

The gearbox is called Powershift and this is Ford's dual-clutch answer to Volkswagen's DSG. There aren't any paddles behind the steering wheel, which I was initially disappointed with, but as time wore on I found it best to just let the car do its own thing. You can however force changes by pushing a button mounted on the stick. There's also a sport mode, which is of no real use. Just put the gearshift into Drive and that's all you need.

What a lovely piece of engineering this gearbox is. Usually small cars with automatic gearboxes are dreadful as you battle to find the right gear and performance is lacklustre. The Ford Fiesta Powershift, on the other hand, does a sterling job of delivering the right amount of power at exactly the right time. A gap in traffic has suddenly opened up? Squeeze the throttle slightly and the car springs to life and charges along without any hesitation.

Gearshifts are smooth and the car only feels fractionally sluggish when you want to do something like a highway overtake with four people in the car. Still, you must remember this is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder and its abilities are quite remarkable. It's pleasant to drive and has a bit of a sporty edge to it. That chassis is just so good and the steering is light and well-weighted.

Interior

Inside, the Fiesta is modern and is dominated by a centre console riddled with buttons and neon-blue lighting. It's initially daunting, but once you take the time to work out the function of each button, all is well. The only downside is the actual screen looks a little lost due to its small size - surely it could be a little bigger? You also get the rather good voice-controlled SYNC system and audio controls on the steering wheel. I was disappointed to see there's no cruise control - something I think a vehicle like this needs.

Summary and conclusion

In closing, I think the Ford Fiesta Powershift is one of the finest little cars you could ever own. It's effortless to drive, reasonably light on fuel, looks modern and has a bit of a personality to it. It's a little on the pricey side though, but if you're in the market for a sensible automatic which has plenty of power on demand, you'd better not leave the Ford Fiesta Powershift off your test drive list.

Ford Fiesta Powershift price in South Africa

The Ford Fiesta Powershift retails for R236 600. This price includes a four-year / 120 000km fully comprehensive manufacturer warranty, five-year corrosion warranty and five-year / 90 000km service plan. A Ford Protect roadside assistance plan is in place for three-years / unlimited km while service intervals are scheduled at 20 000km.

Ford Fiesta Powershift Quick Specs

Engine  1.0-litre three cylinder turbo petrol
Power  74 kW
Torque  170 Nm
Transmission  Six-speed automatic
Wheels  15-inch alloys
0-100km/h  10.8 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  4.9 l/100km (claimed)

We like: . Pleasant to drive . Comfortable . Best combination of gearbox and engine . Funky

We dislike: . No cruise control . Pricey . Not as fuel efficient as hoped

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