Experience of 16 years & 1,10,000 kms with my Ford Fiesta 1.6 petrol

The Ikon had nurtured my parents to expect character, and whether they knew it or not, ensured that their next acquisition would be a worthy successor.

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Introduction:

A car is supposed to transport you from A to B in reasonable comfort without a fuss. It is also expected to be reliable and efficient as well as cheap to maintain in the future. On the side, it is supposed to look attractive and fancy enough to look good in front of your neighbours. That’s the definition of a car we’ve evolved to accept as an average Joe, and most cars are designed to cater to just that. Their literal definition is even simpler; Merriam-Webster defines a car as “an object moving on wheels”.

Then there are the people who are different. To whom a car does not provide merely utility, but emotion. To the people for whom cars aren’t just a way to express financial progress, but passion. The ones who live for every rotation of the crankshaft, every rev match, and the feel of having the reins to a beast under your feet and at your fingertips. Some cars cater to them too. Most of them are purpose-built for it and of course purpose-priced for it. This is the story of one that wasn’t, but ended up being exactly that, disguised as your average car.

In September of 2006, my parents started looking for a car to have in addition to the 2004 Ford Ikon 1.3 Flair we had in our garage at the time. The criteria at the time were simply “Sasti, sundar aur tikau”, which when translated from Hindi to English means, “Cheap, beautiful and durable”. What they didn’t fully know yet, was that their new acquisition would have massive shoes to fill. The Ikon had nurtured them to expect character, and whether they knew it or not, ensured that their next acquisition would be a worthy successor. Here is my comprehensive review of the car I came home from the hospital for the first time in, one I am lucky enough to still have in our garage.

Likes:

  • Ride Quality: A very well-judged suspension setup that’s compliant enough to be comfortable but tips in the favour of handling and high-speed stability.
  • Driving Dynamics: The chassis is taut, and the car maintains its line astoundingly well for a front-wheel-drive car with an open differential; no drama whatsoever.
  • Engine: The 1.6 Liter Duratec engine is a gem, period. Rev happy, punchy and with a linear power delivery, it aches to be redlined at the sight of an open road and sings beautifully while it’s at it.
  • Steering: A brilliantly calibrated hydraulic unit with superb feel and feedback; easily the best in the business.
  • Build quality: Not a single rattle after over 110k kilometres on a variety of road conditions; Delhi-NCR’s largely good roads, half-completed roads riddled with craters and Hyderabad’s back and car-breaking rumble strips (this deserves a post of its own ).
  • Reliable mechanicals: The original suspension lasted over 100k kilometers before needing an overhaul; mind blowing in Indian conditions and barring one major issue (more on this later) the engine has so far been extremely reliable along with the bulletproof transmission.
  • Interior design: While it certainly doesn’t look cutting edge today, it has aged extremely well for a car launched in 2005, visually and physically.
  • Sound system: Punches (pun intended!) way above its weight with its bass and commendable clarity. There is also minimal distortion at higher volumes.
  • Practicality: Well shaped boot with 430 Cubic Litres of space and several nifty storage spots in the interior make for a car that can carry a surprisingly large number of odds and ends.
  • Dislikes:

  • Exterior design: While not bad in any way, it does look a little staid, specially from the front. This is something I feel the 2008 facelift remedied.
  • Safety equipment: While it does have ABS and EBD, there are no airbags.
  • Sound deadening: Definitely not the quietest C2 Segment sedan, even in its day. Getting quieter tires definitely helped (Yokohama Earth 1). However the sound of rain at highway speeds completely drowns out the music and can honestly get deafening.
  • Fuel economy: As expected for a relatively old school naturally aspirated engine, it is not the slowest of sippers. 9-10km/l in the city and 11-13km/l on the highway.
  • Equipment: It could have done with a little more, especially AUX and MP3 capability.
  • Electronic issues: A few gremlins and some part failures as well.
  • Spare part prices: Not a fault with the car; due to the model being discontinued, some parts carry eye-watering price tags. I only expect this to get worse now that Ford has exited India.
  • Service experience: Again, not the car’s fault. We had an alarming number of downright horrible experiences, a reasonable number of unremarkable ones and only one outstanding experience so far (more on this later).

Cars considered:

Chevrolet Aveo: The car that got the closest to being chosen over the Fiesta. Poor NVH levels and inferior seating comfort were some of the things to swing the decision in the Fiesta’s favour:

Hyundai Elantra: Yes, this car was a segment above the Fiesta, but due to it being the cheapest D1 Segment sedan, a test drive was taken. The poor steering feel, looks and rather floaty suspension worked against its advantage of interior space:

Honda City: Rejected without a test drive due to its looks:

Why the Fiesta was eventually chosen:

  • Ride quality: It was immediately evident that the suspension tuning was head and shoulders above the others.
  • Interior: It looked much more modern compared to all the other cars and was user friendly.
  • Perceived quality: The doors felt solid and shut with the revered, reassuring thud and the interior felt well screwed together.
  • Refinement: Vibrations from the engine were nearly intangible at idle and even when revved, the creamy smoothness remained.

Booking and delivery:

After a lot of hunting for offers around Delhi-NCR, the deal was made with Southcity Ford (now defunct) for just under 7 Lakh rupees. The model chosen was the top end 1.6 SXI with ABS. We actually had to wait for the chosen colour (Paprika Red) to become available, since stock had just started to arrive. Now this is where we made a mistake: not performing a PDI and opting for home delivery of the car. On the original date of delivery, the salesman called about a delay in delivery mere hours before the scheduled time. Then the car was finally delivered after a couple of days and getting caught up in celebration, it went unnoticed that the bumper had been replaced and the paint touched up. So, there was the culprit behind the sudden delay!

Anyways, on to the review:

Those familiar with Fords of the time will immediately spot the resemblance to the larger Mondeo, especially the trapezoidal air dam at the lower half of the bumper flanked by round fog-lamp housings. It is a purposeful and simple look. The contours on the hood flow into the sides of the diamond mesh grille, which has a neat chrome border. The windshield washers though an eyesore, do the job well. A slightly more exciting design would be welcome, but this one definitely isn’t bad either.

The chromed out twin barrel headlights have a separate bulb for the low and high beams, as well as for the parking lights. All bulbs are halogen, including the turn indicator. A black surround instead of the chrome one would look more tasteful according to me. A strange issue has plagued the left headlight for all our time owning this car; the low beam bulb sometimes simply stops working. However, a mild slap on the hood near the headlight almost always resolves the issue.

Remove this little circle to get access to the front towing hook.

The ORVMs are well suited for the size of the car and give great visibility all around. They are electrically adjustable but not foldable.

The side profile has a traditional three-box silhouette and is really well proportioned; this car is a proper three-box sedan. The Fiesta has strongly flared wheel arches, which highlight the rather small 175/65/R14 tires. The wheels remind me of Lincolns from the early 2000s. Anyone else see the resemblance?

A character line runs all the way to the boot, parallel to the gently rising window line. The chrome side moldings seen here are standard on the top end SXI variant only and do embellish the (elegant but otherwise somewhat bland) side profile. The front bumper has unfortunately sustained some scratches in an accident.

The side indicator. Note the Ford logo on the lens.

Pull-type door handles, which were only just beginning to become common in 2006.

The license plate housing is in the center of the boot, as it is traditionally with sedans. The taillights are reminiscent of the W203 Mercedes C Class and gel fantastically with the rest of the boot. The bumper protrudes out a healthy amount and does well to cushion minor impacts, preventing damage to the boot lid. The roof swoops neatly into the C-pillar and the almost Hofmeister-like kink at the base of the rear window.

430 litres of space combined with a pretty usable design means that you can pack in quite a bit of stuff. The rear bench also folds down as a whole. Note the metal seat back; it is to prevent items in the boot ending up in the cabin in the event of a collision.

Exhaust is tucked away neatly.

The wheel arch at the front is fully clad….

…And so is the one at the rear! No cost cutting here, good job Ford.

Ventilated disc brakes (258 mm) at the front.

Drum brakes at the rear.

This car can be turned into a serious looker by adding side skirts, a spoiler and bigger wheels aftermarket… Oh what am I talking about? Ford already did this part with the Fiesta S. Does anyone know if the OEM body kit is available for over-the-counter purchase?

Some parting shots taken near Rachakonda Fort:

Continue reading BHPian GForceEnjoyer’s review of his Ford Fiesta 1.6 petrol for:

  • Interior
  • Driving the 1.6 petrol manual
  • Technical stuff
  • Ownership experience

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