The Ford Fiesta Classic nee Fiesta was first launched in 2006. At the time, it was available with a choice of three engines – two petrols and one diesel. The new Ford Fiesta was launched last year, and the original Fiesta was renamed ‘Fiesta Classic’. We test drive the 1.6 Duratec Classic, which slots in at the lower end of the mid-size sedan market.
Design & Engineering
The Ford Fiesta Classic was subjected to a mid-life facelift. Actually, the new face of the Fiesta Classic is essentially the same as what was first seen on the Fiesta S. The Fiesta S rode lower on stiffer springs, and had tasty 15-inch alloy wheels, but this model has since been discontinued. The ‘regular’ Fiesta Classic does not get the same rally-spec suspension or brakes, and alloy wheels are available only on the highest-spec SXI variant. The mid-spec CLXI variant we drove has 14-inch steel wheels.
The Fiesta Classic has a boxy profile. The design is simple and clean, but does appear a tad boring. However, the simple surfaces mean that the Fiesta Classic affords a decent amount of interior room and a big boot too. The rear of the car remains unchanged to the original, with the same wrap-around tail lights and bumper.
Suspension architecture in the Fiesta Classic consists of McPherson struts at the front, with a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension. Interestingly, the Fiesta Classic’s front McPherson suspension has off-set coil springs, which are responsible for its lively handling, but more on that later.
Interiors & Comfort
When the Fiesta Classic was first launched, the interiors appeared interesting, but the game has moved on since. While you cannot fault the build quality, with strong plastics which appear solidly screwed together, the interiors too have aged. The black and grey interior finish appears dull, although the aluminium finish trim tries valiantly to uplift the sombre mood somewhat.
The Ford Fiesta Classic CLXI we drove comes with a factory-fitted music system. This double-DIN unit is simple to use, with large rubberised buttons which are easy to press while on the move. Sound quality is very good as well, playing through 4 speakers. (The SXI gets 6 speakers, while the base spec LXI variant does not come with a music system).
Seating comfort in the Fiesta Classic is near perfect, with good bolstering and support in all the right areas. The front seats have a good degree of lateral support, which is useful given the cornering antics one tend to get up to in the Fiesta Classic. The rear seat has a decent amount of headroom and leg room, although you cannot compare it to the Nissan Sunny for example. The boxy profile we spoke of earlier has a part to play in providing the Fiesta Classic with a spacious cabin.
The boot is simply huge, and you can easily fit four large suitcases in it.
The extendable cup-holders at the rear are useful. The Fiesta Classic also gets reading lamps for the rear passengers.
Performance & Handling
As you may have gathered by now, we aren’t too impressed with the Fiesta Classic’s styling or its interiors. But where the Fiesta Classic rides straight to the top of the charts is in the performance and handling department. The 1.6 Duratec engine is a gem, pumping out 101 PS at a heady 6500 rpm, and a maximum torque of 146 Nm at just 3400 rpm. These figures hint at its prowess, and the Fiesta Classic marries good low-end drivability with a screaming top end. But just a great engine does not a great driver’s car make.
What sweetens the deal with this car is its ride and handling balance. The suspension is well damped, and body control is very good. The ride can be slightly jiggly at low speeds, but up the pace and the Fiesta Classic rides perfectly flat, ironing out most imperfections in the road. The good ground clearance and flat underbody make this a very practical car on our roads as well.
But ride comfort is not at the expense of handling capability in the Fiesta Classic. Steering feel in this car is excellent, as is its accuracy. The steering response is well weighted too, and steering articulation in the Fiesta Classic is near perfect. The tall gearshift lever falls easily to hand, and the gears shift positively and precisely. Again, the gear lever isn’t overly light either, with just the right amount of heaviness to provide good response when you light the wick.
The Fiesta Classic married front disc brakes to rear drums, which provide adequate stopping power. If there is a small complaint to be made, it is the weight transfer to the front under heavy braking, and this is likely because of the tall springs, but it does not detract too much from the overall driving satisfaction.
The combination of all these factors make the Fiesta Classic a truly wonderful driver’s car, and in the real world it is very close to being the fastest car in India, point-to-point.
Fuel Efficiency is paramount in the Indian context, and Fords have traditionally faced some criticism for not being particularly frugal. The same extends to the Fiesta Classic as well. In our road test, we found the Fiesta Classic averaged 10.5 km/l in the city with the AC running all the time. Of course, 42 degree C ambient temperature does mean the AC is running full-time.
On our highway tests, the Fiesta Classic managed 14 km/l when driven spiritedly, improving to 15.5 km/l when driven with a light foot.
The Fiesta Classic has been developed on the erstwhile Fiesta platform as was sold in Europe a few years ago, so it has been thoroughly tested for crash worthiness. That said, active and passive safety features like ABS and airbags are available only on the fully-loaded SXI version. We wish Ford had included these on the mid-spec Fiesta Classic CLXI as well, as it would have made the car better value.
The Ford Fiesta Classic does appear a little long in the tooth, there can little doubt of that. The bland styling appears a little anonymous, and it doesn’t appear too much like a 21st-century car. The drab interiors too appear dated.
At Rs 6.5 lakh, ex-showroom, the Ford Fiesta Classic 1.6 Duratec CLXI is a good value package, with remote central locking, air conditioning, power steering, power windows and a built-in music system. It’s priced slightly above the entry-level sedan segment, which includes the Toyota Etios, Mahindra Verito and Maruti Dzire, but is substantially cheaper than cars like the Maruti SX4 for example. It’s a positioning decision which Ford India has calculated will help it corner sales from both ends of the spectrum.
Where the Fiesta Classic really scores is in its drivability, fun-to-drive character, space and practicality and its good ground clearance.
However, we feel the appeal of this car will be limited more to the petrol head who values the Ford Fiesta Classic’s driving character above all else. There’s a smooth and fuel efficient diesel version as well, which does appeal to a larger section of car buyers, given the much cheaper running costs.