What an absolute bottler! Inside and out the Metal is simply fabulous. It’s modest 98KW Duratec engine delivers a 160Nm packages which gets around town surprisingly quickly.
In my case, I’d had an Opel OPC Astra the week before so the first few K’s were a trifle disappointing. Then the Fiesta’s personality came through, and I began to develop a little man-crush.
The pictures tell the story. Ford pushed the boat out with bits of chrome round back on the exhausts and the sexiest set of black alloys I’ve ever seen. Speaking of black, that’s one of the many colours….., oh no hold on, it’s the only colour you can select! She is black on black with just a OOMPH of black. The same goes for the inside where a touch of white stitching stands out against the moody cabin atmosphere.
The Metal has no options, this is it. Come to think of it, it doesn’t actually need anything else doing to it, it’s perfect as it is.
The every-day Fiesta looks ok, sure, but the Metal looks menacing and fast. With the wheels spinning she looks as if she is hovering mid-air in the rims. Those sexy headlights are rain sensing too. Once upon a time I hated headlights continuing along the side of the car but such is the way of the world one had to adjust one’s expectations didn’t one?
I’ve seen photos of the upcoming ST model and it looks brilliant, but the Metal shows what can be done with a lick of paint, a body kit and some trick wheels. I like that it’s been kept simple. I like that a base model entry level poverty stricken poor-man’s shopping trolley can be given spit and polish and out pops something that looks like it has been crafted from scratch in the fires of hell. It’s evil and aggressive screaming “Look at me, get out of my way I’m coming through you mere mortal you”.
From the side, the 3 door rests low on the front wheels like a young, big-muscled athlete ready for the start of a race. It’s eager to please, and without turning a single key, it makes you feel a little bit special just because you have the key in your pocket. Keeping the big blousy decorative flimflam to a minimum, Ford have also dialled back the price a notch. This is a Coco Chanel approach where less-is-more.
Gorgeous! The cabin finishes are classy, especially for an entry model. When compared to the opposition, the Fiesta is light years ahead in both quality and design. It’s true the base Fiesta does feel slightly soup-kitchen-esque in some areas, it’s none the less a very nice soup kitchen, like something Jamie or Gordon might create. The seats feel luxurious clad in acres of leather stitched lovingly by an isolated convent of German nuns who have taken a vow of silence so as not to disturb their concentration. The seats are heated by pressing a discrete button mounted low and out of the way on the side of the seat. This is handy if you have the kinds of friends who think it a bit of fun to turn on during the hotter summer months while you’re in the shop. You come back to your seat and notice your bum starting to feel like a fried egg but it takes a while for it to compute He (the friend) knows who he is (don’t you Jimmie?) I.T. geeks have the oddest sense of humour! In a departure from hot-ish) hatch heritage, the seats are actually comfortable. There is no pretence of having to fight G forces greater than that experienced by jet pilots in a dive, so there are no silly rock-hard bolsters poking in to your gentleman-bits. The ride won’t shatter your bones either!
Everything is black from the doors, carpet and console, to the mats seats and dial surrounds and it looks as menacing as the exterior. The ambience is highlighted at night with an eerie orange glow from LEDs littered about the cabin, and this too makes interior feel moody and the passengers come over all romantic, or psychotic, whichever is your fancy.
The panel fit, a long-time criticism of all entry level motoring, is excellent. Nothing looks as though it will drop off at the first corner taken with anything more than “spirited” enthusiasm. The alloy pedals look great, though not exactly unusual in the hot-ish hatch segment, and have non-slip pads on them. There is nothing worse than your foot slipping off full metal pedals at the lights causing an unplanned stall. Complete amateur hour stuff!
There is voice control, though I haven’t met a car yet that uses a system that doesn’t give the driver a nervous breakdown, Ford’s is ok if you do what it tells you to. It seems obvious to me that Siri could be used because it lacks the multiple personality disorder of every single voice system I’ve experienced. Holden’s IQ was the closet to normality but it really only controlled the infotainment system. Holden claims to have come close to Nirvana with its new infotainment system which some say almost reads your mind. We’ll see about that. Ford’s system seems a little clunky and insists you do things its way or no-way. A few months spent with it would no doubt result in a less stressful relationship.
I thought I’d take a moment to mention some quirks.
It took me some while to find the windscreen washers. Pulling the stalks towards you, like most other cars on the market, resulted in the rear window being sprayed. The front windows are washed by pressing the end of the stalk instead. I haven’t seen that since the 70’s.
The rear tailgate is unlocked by pressing the button twice instead of the press-hold that most other cars use.
Rather obviously, is the lack of a 6th gear which seems a trifle last millennium.
As mentioned already, the voice control is a bit hit and miss but would become easier after being trained by the onboard help function. It’s a shame it doesn’t work the other way round and learn from the driver instead. That would be rather more helpful.
The acceleration feels nippy, but don’t expect the unseen hand of Satan pinning you to your seatback. It’s rumoured to be about 8.7 seconds in the 100kph dash so while not spritely, isn’t a snail either. On the highway you quickly get to the last gear and go searching for a 6th cog. German engineered the gearbox may be, but a 5sp in 2013 seems out of place.
The steering feels lively and connected to the road. There is just the right amount road feel and the feedback has a distinct old world feel pre-electric steering feel about it which I like very much. Though lacking the 6th speed, the manual is a delight. The shifts are slick and the clutch has just the right amount of take up. There are no nasty surprises. This is the sort of shift-em-yourself gears that even a novice would feel comfy with, even in town. As I said earlier though, the 6th speed is needed once you’re out on the open road if you don’t want the poor little engine screaming its tits off.
Most of our drive this week was in an around Sydney. This is after all a city car. I, unlike most users of hot hatches, insist on a ride that won’t permanently damage vital organs on uneven surfaces. The Fiesta excelled with its superb ride even on such low profile tyres. The suspension had a Goldilocks amount of damping with springs that won’t rattle your fingernails loose from their cosy beds.
Since we didn’t get a track day we can only wonder at how she would have gone at full pelt around tighter corners. On city streets however, she was whisper quiet, super tight and felt expensive, very expensive.
The flat out performance isn’t going to make your eyes bleed, but then nor will the price of a smidge under 23 grand. I’d have liked phone buttons on the steering wheel though, even in a car of this price.
The rear seats are best treated as occasional accommodations for interlopers of suspect lineage because good friends might be inclined to whinge. The snug space is best for short trips only. Frankly, who cares if they do whine because they can always walk if they don’t like your free lift.
Boot space is good for more than a just few Coles bags. Importantly there is more than enough room for a couple of overnight bags, some blankets, pillows and a picnic hamper. I remember seeing an ad for a Euro sports wagon. In that ad, a couple of young men had a hamper, a couple of pillows, some dogs and a gingham cloth all set for a day out by a quiet creek. The ad was selling a lifestyle and I have a feeling Ford has done the same thing with the Metal. That ad would easily translate to the Fiesta without seeming cheesy and desperate.
Living with this 3 door hatch would be very easy. Everything about it was a pleasure. It isn’t the fastest in the segment but it’s also cheaper than its rivals by a considerable amount. It’s so much fun to drive. There is an X factor that money just can’t buy. Do any of you remember that dreadful Aston Martin Gygnet? Were it to have been sold here, it would have been $60,000 – $70,000 and all it was a Toyota IQ in a tarted up frock outside, and all gussied up on the inside. They glued a few Aston Martin badges on it so the simple minded trust funders would find it easier to swallow. I’d rather have 3 Ford’s cute little Fiesta-go-fast-ish city cars for the same money, any day of the week.
Apart from the lack of 6th speeds, and no phone button on the steering wheel, I struggle to find anything else bad to say. Stylish budget Euro motoring with all the class and elegance that you might expect, but dare not hope for a tony 23 grand, seems unbelievable. But there it is.
Festiva gets its very own ST model soon which will give the range a true competitor for VW’s Polo GTi, but that 132kw giant killer will come with a bigger price, and probably a much harder edge. Good though it will be, I’d be more tempted beg Ford to import more than the paltry 250 Metals promised so far. I have no doubt they will be scooped up with gay abandon. Indeed I wouldn’t mind one myself because a week failed to find any fault. Furthermore, I might have developed a tiny man-crush. By the time I handed the keys back, I had developed quite the attachment. No one is more surprised than I.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 98kW at 6700rpm
Torque: 160Nm at 4250rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 6.0L/100km
CO2 emissions: 140g/km