Long-term test (Introduction): Ford Fiesta 1,5 TDCi Trend
Looking for a diesel-powered B-segment hatchback in South Africa? You currently have just two choices: the flagship Mazda2 and the Ford Fiesta 1,5 TDCi, offered exclusively in Trend specification. Volkswagen no longer offers a TDI-badged Polo, while Hyundai’s i20 has also long since eschewed compression ignition. A sign of the times (in Europe, at least), I guess.

Unlike its self-shifting Japanese rival, the oil-burning Fiesta employs a six-speed manual transmission which requires fairly frequent stirring to keep the rather refined, four-cylinder unit in the meaty part of the rev range. Thankfully, the cog-swapper is suitably slick, while its unusually tall top ratio is best reserved for relaxed highway jaunts. With a modest 63 kW, this engine offers a little more power than its 55 kW forebear but peak torque has interestingly fallen 10 units to 175 N.m.

Of course, the upshot of combining a small turbodiesel mill with long gearing is the potential for stellar economy. The Blue Oval brand claims this power- train sips a measly 3,3 L/100 km, which would make it the most frugal conventionally powered (sans electric assistance) new car in the local market. While we certainly don’t expect our real-world figure to match Ford’s claim at the end of six months in our fleet, I’m confident the running costs will be some of the lowest we’ve seen in recent years; the consumption figure will no doubt fall once we hit the open road.

Since Ford SA has scrapped the base Ambiente trim level on the Fiesta, this Trend specification effectively forms the entry point to the line-up. That said, it’s hardly lacking in kit with items such as a 6,5-inch touchscreen (running the brand’s much-improved Sync3 system), 16-inch alloys, automatic headlamps, rear parking sensors and six airbags as standard.

Priced at a smidgen more than R300 000, the 1,5 TDCi Trend derivative slots neatly into the middle of the range. It’s worth noting that just R4 000 more buys you the flagship 1,0 EcoBoost Titanium manual with extra equipment – a larger touch- screen, a posher sound system and bigger wheels – as well as a livelier powertrain that allows enthusiastic drivers to exploit the top-notch chassis.

That said, these two derivatives do appeal to vastly different buyers. While the Fiesta line-up is decidedly mainstream, the diesel variant talks to a far smaller pool of potential owners. But, with the unrelenting price of fuel, that audience is likely
to grow and the Fiesta is well placed to take advantage of this. I simply can’t wait to find out just how frugal it can be.

After 1 month
Current mileage:
395 km
Average fuel consumption: 5,88 L/100 km
We like: low running costs
We don’t like: polyurethane steering wheel