Priced from £14,215 Release date August 2017
What would you do with £580? You could have a weekend away somewhere, upgrade your TV or just save it for a rainy day. Why the oddly specific figure? Well, that’s the amount you'd save by buying the Ford Fiesta 1.1 Ti-VCT instead of our current favourite version, the more powerful 1.0-litre 99bhp Ecoboost.
The 1.1 is 15bhp down on the Ecoboost and has significantly less pulling power from low revs. And even though it’s more powerful, the Ecoboost gets better official economy, and consequently dips below 100g/km of CO2 – unlike the 1.1.
That’s all very well and good, but if you were a private buyer that does a handful of miles around town every year, would you really need the Ecoboost's extra urge? Some back-to-back driving of both motors should answer that question.
2017 Ford Fiesta 1.1L Ti-VCT on the road
Fire up the three-cylinder 1.1 and you’d initially be hard pushed to notice any difference. Refinement is good for such an engine, with little vibration coming through the controls and a subdued noise. It certainly has the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia beaten in that respect.
Reach for the gearlever and you’ll find that instead of the six-speed manual gearbox that’s fitted to Ecoboost models, you have to make do with five gears instead. Even so, the shift action is still precise, if not quite as slick as the Ibiza’s.
There’s easily enough get-up-and-go for nipping around town, although you often have to use a lower gear than you might think necessary. The lack of a turbocharger means that shove from low revs is significantly less forceful than in even the slowest of the turbocharged Ecoboost units.
On the open road, the 1.1 becomes even more strained. It’s not outright slow, but we can fully believe that, as Ford claims, it takes 3.5sec longer to sprint from 0-62mph than the 99bhp Ecoboost. Even if bragging rights don’t matter to you, it’s the difference between breezing easily up to motorway speeds and having to thrash it mercilessly when you're on a short slip road.
You’ll also find yourself having to downshift more often if you need a sudden increase in pace, such as for overtaking. Bear in mind too, that we were testing the Fiesta with just a driver aboard; the difference would be even more noticeable with four passengers.
The Fiesta's refinement also takes a hit as a result of the five-speed gearbox. You’ll find the engine revving much higher at 70mph than the Ecoboost, making for noisier progress.
The good news is that the Fiesta's ride and handling aren’t affected. The Ibiza may handle surface imperfections a little better, but compared to the majority of its rivals, the Fiesta is surprisingly comfortable for such a small car. This is especially true if you don't go for the optional larger alloy wheels.
And while the Ibiza rides slightly better, but the Fiesta has the edge for handling. The steering weight is spot on in all situations, the car turns in to corners keenly and grip is good. We’d argue that you can have just as much fun in a Fiesta than in many sports cars.
2017 Ford Fiesta 1.1L Ti-VCT interior
Initially, the Fiesta impresses with good quality materials on areas you touch regularly and a smattering of soft-touch plastics on the dashboard. All the controls fall easily to hand while the infotainment touchscreen is mounted high up, making it easy to see and use while driving.
Look closer, however, and you’ll find that the Fiesta's interior isn’t quite as well screwed together as the Ibiza and Fabia's. There are cheaper plastics lower down inside and things don't feel quite so solid. Even so, it’s still better than many rivals out there.
Passenger space also lets the Fiesta down. While a 6ft-tall adult can get in the back of a Fabia or Ibiza with surprising ease, they’ll have to sit upright, or they'll have their knees wedged into the backs of the front seats. We’d also avoid specifying the panoramic sunroof as it eats into rear head room by a noticeable amount.
The Fiesta also has a smaller boot than a number of rivals. Yes, you’ll get a week’s worth of shopping in there without too much difficulty, but squeezing suitcases in for a week’s holiday will be more of a struggle.
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