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 (108) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GTIAlex 3 hours ago

    Richyboy said:
    Flipping heck I've got an aygo on order as a cheap runabout, should've got one of these fiestas.
    Put my deposit down today! biggrin

  • Richyboy 1 day ago

    Flipping heck I've got an aygo on order as a cheap runabout, should've got one of these fiestas.

  • Dan Friel 1 day ago

    Have had my Red Edition for a couple of weeks, and first impressions are very good. Have covered 800 miles, so still being careful but the ecoboost has enough "go". I do too many miles to have an ST, and Red Edition ownership should be perfect. Cheap to run, fun on a B road but comfortable enough for longer distances. I paid £13k for a new one with some options, which seems ok value.

    This will be interesting to you:

    Mountune will be releasing upgrades through the year, and that will be tempting. Others are already claiming remaps to 170bhp...

  • GTIAlex 1 day ago

    Sorry to bump an old topic but saves starting a new one.

    Any owner reports on these?

    Been pricing up a Focus ST-2 Diesel or one of these.

    Focus STD is a bit overkill for my needs, i.e short commute not too many miles.

    This seems to fit the bill, cheap insurance, cheap to run and I get privilege discount through my work.

    Perhaps a Fiesta ST but again seems overkill for my needs, I already have two weekend cars for fun (classic mini) and camping (vw camper).

    This seems a good middle ground to me.

  • Zad 25 Jun 2014

    Yeah those massive 1100kg cars with only 140bhp, what are they thinking of? That thing will hardly move when you add 14% (2 passengers) to its mass.


    I imagine the engine/turbo will need replacing about as often as any other petrol 140bhp turbo engine. Ford won't have tested them at all, or installed them in hundreds of thousands of vehicles around the world in the last 2 years. Oh wait...

    I'm not saying it isn't hideous to look at and poor value compared to the ST, but 140bhp really isn't under-powered, and turbo technology has come a long long way since the 1970s.

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