If you’re old enough you may recall famous sporting Fords such as the 3.0S Cortina or the 1600 Sport Escort. Even more recently there has been the Focus ST. In each of those cases the letter “S” denoted Sport. That, however, is not the case with this latest Fiesta “S” model.
As part of a realignment of the Fiesta range, Ford South Africa has introduced this new “S” model (in addition to a saloon and automatic variants) in place of the outgoing 1,4-litre 3-door Titanium.
External differentiation comes in the form of a new front bumper with distinctive chrome-finish “nostrils”. Front fog-lamps, a rear spoiler, 16-inch alloys and a lower ride height, courtesy of a sports suspension, add to the looks.
This new hatchback range leader comes with all the niceties one can expect from a car in this class, and few unexpected items as well. Mimicking luxury saloons the Fiesta S has no fewer than SEVEN airbags, that odd number due to the inclusion of a knee airbag for the driver. Bluetooth connectivity with voice control is standard, too. There is a manual air-con – not a climate control system – a multi-speaker audio system with aux-in and USB ports as well as sports seats and electric power steering.
Power is derived from the same 1,6-litre, in-line four-pot that powers all the other 1,6 litre models in the range, so there is no real “S” under the bonnet. Maximum power is 88 kW and 152 N.m of peak torque is developed at 4 300 r/min. Drive is transferred to the front wheels via a slick, five-speed gearbox.
On the road the Fiesta S maintains the same high levels of ride quality that we have experienced before, so the “sports” suspension has not really had any real effect. Bumps are still easily soaked up and there is no major noise intrusion into the cabin via the suspension mounts. The handling is not that sporty, being similar fare to other models, and there is a degree of body roll that should not really be found on a sports range-topper.
Ford claims a benchmark zero-to-100 km/h acceleration time of 10,4 seconds, which sounds quick enough for the segment. However, our best efforts during performance testing did not come within 1,5 seconds of the manufacturer’s claim. Top speed is quoted as 192 km/h, though we’ll bet that you need a very long run to acheive that.
On the move the sporty credentials are, once again, left floundering. The combination of high-ish torque peak and gearing that does not exploit the engine’s delivery characteristics means that downshifts are required to make quick safe overtaking and that one really needs to rev the engine to extract the best from it. Compared with a Suzuki Swift Sport the Fiesta S is anywhere from 1,5- to NINE seconds adrift in the various overtaking speed increments we measure.
It seems that Ford has dragged out an old trusted badge dusted it off and slapped it onto the rump of a well-equipped Fiesta. In reality it really should have used some other moniker. Ghia is a one that springs to mind as that badge has always represented Ford’s top line models.
The Fiesta S is not a bad car by any stretch of the imagination. It has loads of standard kit but it is not keenly priced. Look at comparative pricing and you will see that there are many options at just over R200k. And one thing’s for sure, it is not deserving of the “S” badge.
The newly launched Ford Fiesta S retails for R206 990 and the price includes a four-years/120 000 km warranty and four-years/60 000km service plan.