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Ford Fiesta Econetic: Test Drive

Date: 08 December 2008   |   Author: James Foxall

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £11,870
Key rival: Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

With the ink still drying on rave reviews for its new Fiesta, Ford has been quick off the mark to capitalise by introducing an Econetic version of the supermini.

Following in the wheel tracks of the Focus and Mondeo Econetics, the headline fact about this new Fiesta is that it'll become Britain's cleanest car when it goes on sale this March. Available in both three- and five-door formats it'll pump out 98g/km of CO2, enabling it to steal ahead of the VW Polo Bluemotion and Seat Ibiza Ecomotive in the low carbon dioxide stakes. Ford promises it'll return 76.3mpg on the combined cycle, too, making it the stingiest fuel user.

Turning it from a car that costs £35 a year in VED into one that will furnish the Chancellor with precisely nothing hasn't been rocket science. There are low-rolling resistance tyres, low-friction engine oil and an electronic brain that's been recalibrated to focus on economy rather than performance.

This means pick-up at higher speeds can feel a bit rough, but the 1.6-litre turbo diesel pays you back at lower speeds. Part of the Econetic package is a green arrow on the rev counter that tells you the optimum time to change up. This comes at 1500rpm when the engine is approaching the peak of its pulling power and it feels nicely effortless.

The remarkably comfortable cabin has room for five with particularly supportive front seats. However, you won't find rear chairs that perform any gymnastics here. In fact, it's quite disappointing that Ford hasn't been more adventurous with the adaptability of the new Fiesta's interior.

Although the Econetic is primarily about saving its owners' tax bills it retains the perky fun-to-drive appeal of the regular model. This is further exaggerated by it sitting on the same slightly lower suspension as the warm Zetec S version of the standard car and having that car's bodykit. It makes the ride a touch firmer but doesn't detract from the Fiesta's surprisingly composed and comfortable feel on the motorway, which is coupled to refined handling. Those attributes contribute to the Fiesta Econetic representing a surprisingly competent and cost-effective choice for business drivers, particularly considering it costs £650 less than the regular Fiesta Zetec.