Ford Fiesta Econetic review
The Fiesta Econetic has always been one of our favourite green cars, because it provides sensational economy with virtually no compromise in fun or comfort.
Now, by fiddling with the calibration of the Econetic's 1.6-litre diesel engine, Ford has managed to trim emissions and boost fuel economy even further.
Until now, the Econetic was offered only in low-end Edge trim. It's now available in Zetec and Titanium versions as well, so you can have your Econetic with all those luxury goodies you can't live without.
As before, Edge Econetic comes with basics such as stability control, electric front windows and air-conditioning.
The Zetec Econetic adds a leather steering wheel, ambient lighting, alloy wheels, front foglamps and a host of chrome exterior finishes.
Titanium Econetic trim is even more luxurious, with items such as climate and cruise controls, automatic lights and wipers, plus a Sony stereo with DAB, Bluetooth and a USB port (the Sony system is also available on Zetec for £400 extra).
What's it like inside? As in other Fords, the Sony stereo's shiny black finish gives the interior a real lift.
The cabin still looks pretty sharp in cars without it, mind you, thanks to the funky mobile phone-inspired dashboard and edgy styling. A soft-touch covering makes the dash pretty tactile, too, even though some of the plastics lower down in the cabin feel cheap.
The Fiesta isn't as good as some rivals on space and versatility, either, but there's still enough room for four tall adults and a good-sized boot. The driving position is spot-on, too, and there's plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel to help you find the sweet spot.
What's it like to drive? Many eco-focused superminis have overly long gearing that robs the engine of all its urgency, but that's simply not the case with the Econetic. The engine always feels perky and responsive, so the Econetic is no harder to drive than any other Fiesta.
It's no less rewarding, either. The beautifully weighted controls and tight turning circle make it easy and enjoyable to drive around town, and when you're going faster, the crisp, balanced handling and sharp steering mean you can have some real fun.
The Econetic's suspension is lower than that of the normal Fiesta, but even that doesn't really harm the Fiesta's smooth, class-leading ride quality.
The slick ride is also complemented by superb refinement, which makes the Econetic an excellent motorway car. There's some road noise, but wind and suspension noise are incredibly well suppressed, while the engine always stays smooth and quiet.
Should I buy one? Ford's fettlings mean that the Econetic's CO2 emissions have been trimmed by 3g/km to just 95g/km. However, while that might help your environmental conscience, it won't save you any cash – you're exempt from paying road tax and the London congestion charge, but that was the case before the changes.
The lower emissions won't save company car drivers anything in tax, either, but it still qualifies for the 13% tax band, the lowest available for diesels.
Fear not, though, because the revisions will still save you money at the pumps. Where the old Econetic returned a 'measly' 76.3mpg, the new one gives you a stunning average of 78.5mpg.
It'll cost a pittance to run, then, but with prices starting at £13,895 and rising to £16,245, the Fiesta Econetic isn't exactly cheap to buy. That said, prices aren't much higher than those of many rivals, and the Zetec model is actually about £400 cheaper than the VW Polo Bluemotion. What's more, no rival can match the Fiesta's exceptional driving manners, so we reckon the Fiesta is well worth the cash.
What Car? says