(Gloucestershire Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Meet Ford's new eco-warrior ; Agile, smart, economical - the Fiesta has grown up. TANYA GLEDHILL got behind the wheel of Ford's impressive supermini. And stayed there for a long, long time
A LL that was missing was the ark. The rain was coming down like stair rods, soggy pedestrians were gawping at the ever-rising flood waters and frustrated drivers - thousands of us - were sitting stock- still as deluged Worcester came to a standstill.
I was one of them last Sunday afternoon, battling back from my father's house to ours. A journey that should have taken 20 minutes took more than three hours.
Unceremoniously stuck as I was, I was at least outside a Co-op - which meant a continual supply of chocolate buttons and Fruit Shoots to keep sleeping toddler Bee happy if and when she woke up.
And in truth, I thought, if I'm going to be a sitting duck for hours on end - the irony of Ford's motto, Go Further was not lost on me - I might as well be behind the wheel of a car with lots of toys to play with.
The Fiesta Titanium is certainly that. When the roads don't resemble rivers and the fields aren't lakes this sporty little hatchback is a cracker. When I was 21, just back from uni, full of my own self-importance and about to trade in my S-reg blue Mini for something slightly less ancient, my mother made the following suggestion.
"Why don't you look at a Ford?" she asked.
"A Ford?" I said, with incredulity and total derision. "I wouldn't be seen DEAD in a Ford." I can't even remember why I was so dismissive of this then most British of brands back then. Save that the young, rich and loaded Young Farmers I slavishly hung around with drove either Mk1 Golfs or Peugeot 205s.
And thus I found myself circa 1996, feeling pretty pleased with myself in my bright red Peugeot 205, complete with green and white racing stripes down the side. Which turned out to be fairly shonky, and about as reliable as the Severn's flood defences. I really should have bought a Ford. Anyway, back to the Fiesta. PJ Nicholls, in Tewkesbury, is celebrating 30 years in the motor trade this year. They tell me sales of this new, improved model are outstripping everything else. And I can well see why.
At entry level, you'll pay something like Pounds 11,000. But part with another Pounds 6k, and the spec increases exponentially. For a start, there's the Aston-style Trapezoid grille, big body-coloured spoiler and 16in, 15-spoke alloys. It looks like it means business.
There are front fogs. Sport pedals. Impressive safety kit. Quickclear - which defrosts everything in seconds. Cruise control. Power-foldable mirrors with puddle lights, meaning - as long as it's not February in Gloucestershire - you'll never get your feet wet.
And then there's Ford's super-clever SYNC system with Emergency Assist as standard. This gives you remote audio controls, trip computer, voice-activated dialling, audible text messages (do be careful if Granny's in the car) and a USB port for your iPod. There's MyKey technology, which means you can limit the speed if your petrolhead teen is in the driving seat.
But here's the really clever bit. If you do have a crash and the airbags deploy, it'll send a message and your GPS location to the emergency services so they can rescue you. The humble Fiesta has come a long way.
Inside, the soft-touch Titanium cabin with its ambient lighting is really rather inviting. If you're tall, like me, the driving position takes a bit of getting used to - get your feet right and the steering wheel ends up being a bit close.
And the seats aren't the most comfortable I've ever sat in. But that said, headroom is pretty good in the front and you never feel hemmed in.
Even in the five-door version, in the back, head and leg room are necessarily in shorter supply, and a baby seat pushes the front passenger seat forward significantly. It's a small car. Get used to it.
But the trump card of this Fiesta is its British-built, three cylinder, 125ps EcoBoost engine. At a mere 1.0 litre, you might expect a laboured drive, but it isn't. It's turbocharged-poky and corners well, with more than a whiff of that Mini-style go-kart handling which makes you smile out on the road.
Triple winner at the 2012 Engine of the Year Awards, 0-62 will take you a respectable 9.4 seconds and if you ease off the right foot, you can expect around 65mpg combined. Emissions are next to nothing so there's no road tax either. IMO, as the kids say, this is the supermini to beat.
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