The Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost Powershift brings the option of a new twin-clutch automatic gearbox to Britain's best-selling car, where before the only automatic option was a conventional (and rather inefficient) four-speed 'box.
The Powershift 'box is already available in a number of Ford’s other models (the Focus, C-Max, S-Max and Kuga), and in the Fiesta it's a £1250 option on our favourite three-cylinder 1.0T 100 Ecoboost engine.
It’s available in Zetec trim and above, which means you get a decent amount of kit but have to stump up at least £15,195 before discounts – more than you'll pay for the rival VW Polo 1.4 85 DSG.
What’s the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Powershift like to drive?
The gearbox is keen to change up as quickly as possible in an effort to help economy and emissions; shifts are quick and smooth and the small turbocharged engine pulls hard from just 1400rpm, meaning you don’t need to work it too hard to make snappy progress.
True, the gearbox can be a little reluctant to kick down in Drive, but it's generally well behaved.
You can also take control of the shifts – and enjoy the thrummy engine note more – by moving the lever back to ‘S’ and using a button on the side of the gearlever. It’s mostly effective, but the switch isn’t ideally positioned – it’s a shame steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles aren’t available.
The engine is remarkably hushed once up to speed on the motorway, although there is quite a bit of road noise – particularly if you choose bigger alloys than the 15-inch ones that come as standard (our test car was fitted with 16s).
The ride is also slightly firm, although most bumps and ruts are dealt with impressively well. As with manual versions, this is an incredibly agile car. With wonderfully accurate steering and taut body control the Fiesta changes direction with an immediacy that many sports cars would be proud of.
Combine this with minimal body roll in corners and plenty of confidence-inspiring grip, and you soon realise that the Fiesta is the sweetest-handling small car around.
Official average fuel economy of 57.6mpg is some way off the manual version’s 65.7mpg (stop-start is unavailable), and our True MPG tests of the manual suggest that you’ll be hard pressed to even get close to the official figure. At least CO2 emissions of 114g/km make road tax and company cars bills cheap.
What’s the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Powershift like inside?
Aside from an automatic gearlever, it’s business as usual. That means the materials on the top of the dashboard are soft and dense, with quality tailing off lower down and on the insides of the doors.
Overall, the Fiesta still isn’t as classy inside as a VW Polo, but the cabin is a grade or two above the Renault Clio’s.
Zetec trim gets you a centre console plastered with too many similar-looking buttons, making it unnecessarily complicated to control the DAB stereo. However, you get air-con, a Quickclear heated windscreen, front foglights, a trip computer and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and handbrake as standard.
You can also upgrade to the City Pack (which adds rear parking sensors and power-folding door mirrors) for £300.
The Fiesta’s driving position is pretty much perfect. There’s two-way steering wheel adjustment and a decent amount of seat adjustment, and well positioned pedals.
Rear legroom is on the tight side for adults, although there is a decent boot and you can flip the rear seatbacks forwards when you want to carry longer loads. Unfortunately, the rear seatbase is fixed, so the seatbacks lie at a pronounced angle when they're folded.
Should I buy one?
At £15,795 for the five-door Zetec model, the 1.0 Powershift is £1600 cheaper than an automatic Renault Clio (the 1.2 TCe 120 GT-Line EDC), and while it isn't as well equipped as that car, it's much better to drive.
True, a Volkswagen Polo 1.4 85 DSG 5dr is £395 cheaper than the Fiesta, but the Ford is available with bigger discounts – particularly if you're prepared to shop online – so you'll actually end up paying less.
The Fiesta is also better to drive and is cheaper to fuel and tax, so although it won't hold its value as well as the VW, it's the better choice.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £15,195
Torque 125lb ft
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg