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Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi 5-door

Click to view picture galleryFord is rolling out a small army of
  greener cars, led by the all-new Fiesta
  ECOnetic, currently the greenest
  five-door family car on the market.
  It
s exempt from road tax and its
  fuel-efficient but costs 1,000 more
  to buy. So, do the sums add up for
  private buyers?


DESPITE THE CONTINUED STEEP FALL in all new car sales in 2009, Ford has just increased the retail prices of their new cars by an average of 4.7%. They say this is due to the fall in Sterling against the Euro as the vast majority of cars they sell in the UK are manufactured in mainland Europe. Ford's new prices have arrived just at launch time for the new supermini-sized Fiesta ECOnetic low-CO2 models and prices now start at 9,195 — an increase of 681.

Price rise aside, Ford still expects to sell around 100,000 Fiestas in the UK in 2009. And helping to achieve that figure will be the new ECOnetic models — predicted to achieve between 5 and 7 per cent of total Fiesta sales.

According to independent analysts, cleangreencars.co.uk, the new Ford Fiesta ECOnetic is the UK's greenest five-door family car on the market. This five-door Fiesta is priced at 12,945 (the three-door costs 500 less) and both, with their low 98g/km CO2 rating, are free of road tax charges.

The ECOnetic models are based on the conventional Fiesta Style+ three- and five-door versions available with 1.25 and 1.4-litre petrol and 1.4 TDCi diesel engine options with prices for manual transmission models ranging from 10,895 to 12,495. Emissions for these not-quite-so-clean Fiestas are 133g/km for the 1.25/1.4 petrol versions and 110g/km for the 1.4 TDCi diesel engine, resulting in annual road tax bills of 120 and 35 respectively.

It's not just their C02 emissions that make ECOnetic models significantly different from the conventional Fiesta Style+ versions. For a start, they have a larger and torqueier four-cylinder common-rail 1.6-litre TDCi engine with 89bhp and 150lb ft of pulling power. In addition, this turbodiesel unit has been recalibrated to make it cleaner and more fuel efficient. Officially, both three- and five-door models will return 76.3mpg in the combined cycle. Driven two-up on the busy M25 and along traffic congested roads around Watford, my five-door test ECOnetic returned a relatively good 54.9mpg — fairly typical real-life motoring, I would say. The financial benefit of the free road tax is icing on the cake.

Furthermore, the ECOnetic models also receive aerodynamic rear wind deflectors to smooth the flow of air over the car and to reduce the vacuum it leaves behind; a higher final drive ratio for long-legged fuel saving on the open road; a suspension lowered by 10mm to reduce drag resistance; low rolling resistance tyres on steel 14-inch wheels; low friction oil in the engine/transmission; and a green shift indicator light that prompts the driver to change gear at the best time to gain maximum fuel efficiency. The engine compartment also has an undershield — again to smooth airflow.

As the ECOnetic models are based on the Style+ specification Fiesta, standard kit includes electrically-operated front windows and door mirrors, a height adjustable driver's seat and height and reach adjustable steering column, anti-lock braking, heated windscreen and air conditioning.

The ECOnetic changes have not really harmed the new Fiesta's performance or appearance. The interior is smart with an easy-to-use facia and controls, the larger capacity diesel engine makes best use of the long-legged gearing, the five-speed manual gearchange is slick and the quiet engine pulls well above 1,800rpm. The lowered suspension gives a firmer ride than the standard one, which can upset the ride over the UK's poor quality urban roads.

The Fiesta is inherently such a good car that the 'green tweaks' have not really spoiled the overall package. But the few extra miles-per-gallon and the saving of some road tax now means a calculator is needed to work out if the higher 1,000 price over a good 1.25 Zetec 5-door petrol model is truly worth it. For most retail Fiesta buyers (70% of customers) it's probably not — unless the decision to be a 'greener' motorist is high on their personal agenda.

With ECOnetic versions of the Mondeo, Focus and now the Fiesta (and soon the Ka), Ford will have a total of 51 models emitting under 120g/km of CO2. At this rate, maybe it's time to change that Blue Oval to a green one. — David Miles

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi 5-door
| 12,945
Maximum speed: 111mph | 0-62mph: 12.3 seconds
Overall test MPG: 54.9mpg | Power: 89bhp | Torque: 115lb ft
CO2 98g/km | VED Band A No Charge | Insurance group 4