Test Drive | On the Streets of Rome: Ford Fiesta Tech Drive

[Test Drive] On the Streets of Rome: Ford Fiesta Tech Drive

Traditional car manufacturer Ford is bringing a new compact car out onto the streets. Unlike when it was first released in 1976, the Fiesta is no longer a minimally equipped tin can for city driving. Instead, today’s Fiesta is a grown up compact car with an economical engine and high-tech equipment, all with a competitive price. At its most basic version, which admittedly is not the most exciting, it has a suggested retail prices of 10,950 Euros. Naturally costs to dealers are a lot less, within the region of deep 4-figure range.

[Test Drive] On the Streets of Rome: Ford Fiesta Tech Drive

The economical three-cylinder engine is already cooler with 1000 cc – a size that was only good for about 34 hp in the good ol’ days. However, thanks to a turbocharger, injectors and control electronics, today it’s been souped up to a sparkling 125 hp. Its parallel diesel offering with around 100 hp also isn’t bad. And with all that, 3 to 4 liters can take you 100km, provided you remain fairly relaxed and don’t drive hectically.

With that, it can even convince a critical, grumpy and stubborn blogger. Ford invited us to a test drive in Rome. Positive first impression: The nearly 110 year old company is making a concerted effort to catch up with modern times. The event was a pleasant and paperless social media occasion and the fact that the party held among scenes from antiquity in Rome’s Cinecitta film studios was embedded with local Facebook beauties also didn’t hurt. Oh, and just over there was where Caesar was murdered. If you stand in front of it, you can see the exact location.

The speedster has added a whole series of surprises – the engine (apart from the basic, unboosted one) allows for the car to zip around Rome’s inner-city traffic. The Fiesta is better than its own reputation. Red lights were predominantly treated as such. Speed was situation-related as at least half of the lanes always had parked cars. The woman on the navigation system was the only one to whine from time to time, saying “at the next opportunity, please turn” if you circled the Colosseum twice having let yourself be distracted by the pleasure of driving as well as the the city’s numerous sights.

The upcoming Fiestas not only have a wide range of engine options under the hood, but also several semiconductor offerings at agreeable rates. The braking assistance is very funny, celebrating stop-and-go traffic with breaking if you’re too late to react to the hesitating person in front of you or with parking assistance, which automatically checks the size of parking spaces on demand and subsequently swings the car without any assistance from the owner.

[Test Drive] On the Streets of Rome: Ford Fiesta Tech Drive

Ford engineers are especially proud of the Fiesta’s multimedia features. These come namely from using a process developed by Microsoft (I’ll get to that in a moment). On-board computer preset restrictions (e.g. from parents for their children) guarantee (keyword MyKey) or seamless smartphone integration into the car stereo, so that spoken commands can be made for reading aloud received messages or a selection of songs saved on a smartphone. Definitely handy and fairly well engineered, the voice activation understands you even if you intentionally mumble.

Yea, but Microsoft . . . will you have to worry about the getting the blue screen of death at the next intersection? Fortunately, Ford engineers from the Ford plant in Cologne were in attendance to clear some things up. The on-board sync-computer contains an ARM chip with a 512 MB storage capacity, which has a processing power below that of current smartphone levels. It runs on Windows CE, not Windows Vista, 7 or 8. That means that the machine is very lean.

It’s not designed for user application, but for embedded computing typically designed for industrial applications instead. As a result it comes with a highly limited number of controlled interfaces.

The Fiesta does have a USB port on its on-board audio system that can charge a smartphone. However, it won’t run any code input to the relatively simple on-board computer. As a result, the computer tends not to crash and also makes it harder to hack, Microsoft or not. I myself am not enough of a coder to assess the remaining risk. For horror stories on this subject, ask some of the best commercial white hat hackers like Eugene Kaspersky.

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Above all, driving pleasure more important than anything and Ford have done a very good job with it: The small, souped up economic engine warms up quickly (and will also transfer heat quickly to its passengers cold feet on short trips) and drives effortlessly to the office (or wherever else you want to go), without draining the gas tank quickly.

The green emission target of under 100 g CO2 per km reach is also reached effortlessly. The vehicle’s more youthful and taut suspension further contributes to this driving pleasure.

Naturally, you have to restrict it on the market to cars out there with the same look and size, but cost twice as much. Given that, it’s a valuable catch. Only: As an overall economical and high-tech package, the price for the 2013 Fiesta is the right number.

Author: Fritz Effenberger

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Important disclosure for the best possible transparency and journalistic independence: Ford has supported us for this article and accepted the travel costs to the event and accomodation.
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