Ford Fiesta Econetic Review

Rating: 7.0
$15,490 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
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It's not often a company like Ford can come out guns blazing and declare they sell the most fuel efficient car in Australia. But they have, and they're right.

The new Ford Fiesta Econetic is similar in concept to the Mini Cooper D, which until the Fiesta's arrival was tied with the Toyota Prius as the most fuel efficient car in Australia.

The idea is simple, as in literally, keep it simple. Build a fuel efficient engine and couple it to a car which is both light and also capable of producing the results wanted.

To celebrate the launch of the new Ford Fiesta Econetic in Australia, Ford invited a group of journalists to Canberra to undertake a fuel economy challenge in both city and rural environments.

We drove from Canberra airport out to a rural winery, completed a series of challenges and then headed back to the airport.

In total the drive route was roughly 250km and evenly spread through Canberra CBD and highways.

To make the challenge more interesting, Ford had decided to give out prizes for the most fuel efficient team and given the competitive nature of motoring journalists, the stakes were high.

Despite the motivation to drive economically to win the challenge and prizes, there is something to be said about economy drives where competitors are going 90km/h in 110km/h zones and without air conditioning and trying their very best to not get caught by red lights or traffic. There is very little real world implications for a test like this.

In order to bring you a real world fuel economy figure, my team mate and I decided to simply drive as we would if it was our car. Air conditioning on, going the speed limit and no funny business of trying to catch the best traffic flow or trying to slipstream behind a large car.

It's unusual to find a car which can actually match its official fuel economy figures but the Fiesta is one such car.

To cut the story short, at the end of the journey the best team managed a fuel economy of around 3.1L/100km and we were expecting low 4s, not so.

3.7L/100km was our figure, dead on the official fuel rating for the Fiesta Econetic. Subsequently it should not come as a surprise then that the Econetic won the 3000km+ Global Green Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide by using the least amount of fuel of any car in the event (averaged 2.9L/100km).

For $24,990 drive away, Ford likes to point out that it will take over 100 years to repay the extra cost of the Toyota Prius for its fuel saving in city traffic driving (mainly thanks to its electric engine).

I do have to point out that whilst the Fiesta Econetic is brilliant for what it is, it would be futile to compare it against the Prius, particularly on price given the level of sophistication and advancements showcased in Toyota's hybrid.

Ford Australia boss Marin Burela says the Fiesta Econetic will give cars such as the Toyota Corolla a "hard time" by providing similar features with significantly better fuel economy (and arguably better looks).

The highlights read: 3.7L/100km, 98 grams per km of CO2 emissions and 5-star ANCAP safety rating, the second car in Australia that puts out less than 100 grams per km of CO2 emissions (the other being the Prius of course).

The Fiesta Econetic is only available as a five-speed manual which may limit its uptake, however given the level of enthusiasm expressed so far it may not be an issue.

During our three hour drive it became obvious that the Econetic hasn't sacrificed the fun factor to save fuel, sure it has manual wind-up windows for the rear and small steel rims to get around in, but afterall it's a Fiesta, which is one of the best light cars on the market today.

Under the bonnet you'll find a 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi engine which puts out only 66kW at 4000 rpm but an impressive 200Nm of torque all the way from 1750 rpm. Weighing just 1088kg (kerb weight) the engine figures result in impressive pulling power for a car its size.

In order to achieve the impressive fuel economy the Fiesta makes use of low resistance tyres (tyre size: 175/65 R14), uniquely tuned transmission, lowered suspension for better aerodynamics, low friction oils and weight reduction everywhere possible.

Although somewhat unknown currently, the Econetic brand will no doubt become more popular as Ford looks into Focus and Mondeo Econetic variants for our market.

Similar to the BMW 120d efficient dynamics and the Mini Cooper D, the Fiesta Econetic makes use of upshift lights in the dashboard to inform the driver of the best time to change gears to save fuel.

Using the upshift light might seem a little peculiar as most of us just change gears when it 'feels' right, but when used it does make that extra bit of difference and considering the excellent pulling power of the little diesel engine, you can comfortably cruise along in fourth gear at 60km/h.

The Fiesta Econetic will ultimately appeal to a whole range of buyers, from those looking at a first car with economy in mind to the more mature folks that need nothing more than a light car but have fuel efficiency and emissions in mind.

Regardless of what you may think of the growing list of green cars hitting the market, the Fiesta is currently the king of fuel efficiency and it seems like a title Ford may hold for some time.

If you are after a light car, you can argue whether or not the extra cost of the Fiesta Econetic is worth it over the base model Fiesta (which starts under $20,000) but remember the base model uses 6.1L/100km (or 6.9L/100k for the automatic coupled to the 1.4L engine) and emits 143 and 164 CO2 emissions (g/km) respectively.

It's all well and good for all of us to sit here and say that the politicians are not doing their best to combat climate change or minimise the impact of pollution but a car like the Fiesta Econetic can be your contribution in reducing your carbon footprint.

Whilst the Prius may be out of your price league, the Fiesta Econetic is a car that should be considered for anyone looking in the light car market, not just for its fuel economy and low emissions but also because it's arguably the best light car on the market today.

CarAdvice will soon spend a whole week with the Econetic and bring you a complete road test.