Ford Fiesta Black Edition: Driven (briefly)

Not so long ago, editor Dan was extolling the virtues of the Suzuki Swift Sport - the last stand for the naturally aspirated performance hatch. We will not see its like again.

Contemplating the alternatives, the obvious - and most up-to-the-minute - option was the Ford Fiesta Zetec S, with its 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo engine. But 125hp isn't quite a match for the cheaper Swift's 136, while the five-speed 'box and less focused chassis just don't offer the same intensity as Suzuki's six-speed and 1.6 that almost insists on a flogging.

Black with red or Red with black. Got it?
Black with red or Red with black. Got it?
Fine. But what if we told you Ford has now launched a 1.0-litre Fiesta with 140hp?

Numbers game
There are a few slightly bonkers things going on here. For starters, the car in question has been wheeled out at Ford's Lommel proving ground in Belgium, so time on board is limited to a couple of test laps - amusingly including a section of ride evaluation surfacing exactly modelled after Lower Dunton Road in Essex (thank Richard Parry Jones for that).

On top of which, Ford is only prepared to sell you this engine specification as part of a Red Edition or Black Edition package. Mirror images of each other, these three-door cars are - you guessed it - red and black, with contrasting details in the opposite colour. The Red is tolerable; the Black, well, you be the judge.

Well it should look complicated at 140hp/litre
Well it should look complicated at 140hp/litre
Then consider some of the numbers. 140hp from 999cc is a higher specific output than the Bugatti Veyron - yet the increase comes through recalibration alone. Ford has, however, fitted sports suspension and closer-ratio gears. Shame there's still only five of them, and that the 8.7-second Swift remains quicker to 62mph.

But if the 9.0-second sprint seems a little disheartening, compensation comes in the form of 104g/km CO2 meaning you'll pay just 20 quid a year in tax. 62.8mpg also sounds appealing, if not something you're ever likely to actually see - even with 155lb ft of torque to help move things along. There's just too much fun to be had wringing the tiny triple's entertainingly enthusiastic neck.

An ST in the making
The aim is to keep it on boost at all possible cost - which makes it a similar but different experience to the rev-hungry Swift because once you're dug into the torque you don't necessarily need to nail the limiter every time: you just want to. The thrummy three-cylinder vocals only encourage this degree of attack.

Fiesta's engaging handling unchanged
Fiesta's engaging handling unchanged
The steering is relatively meaty, and while there's enough body roll to suggest both friendly adjustability and a ride that isn't going to hammer you like the Fiesta ST, the Ecoboost 140 feels feisty, controlled and determined to tackle your chosen line. Like a more refined Renaultsport Twingo. Though there are no tricky ST front-end electronics, it changes direction with an eagerness that almost makes it seem flighty at first, but should quickly become a nimble route to rapid progress.

With an interior bedecked with more bespoke black and red detailing - thankfully applied with moderate taste - it appears every bit the gap-bridging junior ST. And the kind of car that basically defines why power really isn't everything.

Trouble is, at £15,995 it doesn't half make the £13,999 three-door Swift Sport look even more tempting.

999cc 3-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 140@N/Arpm
Torque (lb ft): 155@N/Arpm
0-62mph: 9.0sec
Top speed: 125mph
Weight: 1091kg (125hp 1.0 Ecoboost)
MPG: 62.8 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 104g/km
Price: £15,995

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (114) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GTEYE 18 Jun 2014

    Looks like a decent little car, kind of like a modern day AX GT.

    I don't think the red detailing looks that bad actually...

    And while £16k sounds quite a lot, factor in some discounts and it might make more sense. And its somewhat more affordable than those £40k+ Golfs and the like, and more than likely punching above its weight in the fun stakes.

    Edited by GTEYE on Wednesday 18th June 10:09

  • MikeG88 18 Jun 2014

    Oh thats goo....


    Well, you could have an ST for a little more.

    Rewind back to when I was 19 years old and I bought a Clio GT 128hp. The reason I bought it was because the Renaultsport 200 would have made life rather un comfy for me financially as a part time retail worker at uni thanks to insurance. Thanks to the GT I had plenty of spare cash for beer etc and the car, admittedly after Id had it on coilovers and setup properly, was absolutely great. Should imagine this is a lot of fun, though the price is a little eyebrow raising.

  • keiran 18 Jun 2014

    I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, but...

    Fit this spec engine into the KA , call it the KA ST, finish it off with a tasteful sporty look and an affordable price, and there you have it, an Abarth 500 rival, which will likely sell well...
    (Then a more powerful version KA RS? to rival the 595 or 695 Abarth or whatever it's called)

    There you are ford, I will await my cheque in the post...

    Also, I'm sure Aston Martin would like their Colour scheme and Grille back...

    Edited by keiran on Wednesday 18th June 09:55

    Edited by keiran on Wednesday 18th June 09:56

    Edited by keiran on Thursday 19th June 00:40

  • will-w 18 Jun 2014

    I should imagine the agreement between Ford and Fiat would stop things like that happening wink

    I can't imagine Fiat would like making a car in their own plant for a rival, that could potentially break their successful Abarth 500/595 sales figures

  • dlockhart 18 Jun 2014

    I quite like this honest nippy and frugal, 16k is not massively cheap but the swift isn't that much cheaper

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