Ford Fiesta 1.6 ECOnetic

The hugely popular Fiesta has a bigger, more powerful engine than the VW - but will that hurt its chances of winning this green shoot-out?

The Fiesta needs no introduction. Ford sold more than 117,000 of its class-leading supermini last year, and the green Econetic version is hugely impressive.

Although the Fiesta’s success means there are plenty on the road, familiarity hasn’t dulled the attractive hatchback’s appeal. Its sharply styled front end and rising waistline provide an athletic look. Econetic models get steel wheels with plastic trims, but we think they are smarter than the Polo’s alloy wheels.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Ford Fiesta

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_narrow","fid":"69693","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image"}}]]

Inside, the Ford has a more youthful design, which is highlighted by the distinctive centre console. However, the Fiesta’s switchgear doesn’t match the Polo for quality. There’s no leather steering wheel, cruise control or trip computer in the Ford, either.

Getting comfortable is easy, thanks to the excellent driving position giving a wide range of adjustment. And when you fire up the 1.6-litre diesel engine, you’re greeted by a more refined soundtrack than in the Polo. The torquey powerplant outmuscles the much smaller 1.2-litre in the VW, too.

It gives 94bhp and 200Nm of torque – advantages of 20bhp and 20Nm respectively. Add lower gearing, and the consequences on the road are predictable: the Ford simply doesn’t feel like a fuel-sipping special. Mid-range punch is strong and the Fiesta is considerably faster than its rival, and more relaxing to drive as a result. The five-speed manual also has a much crisper action.

The fact Ford has carried over the supermini’s considerable dynamic ability makes it even easier to forget that this model wears an Econetic badge. The steering is full of precision and feel, the car responds accurately to inputs and it rides smoothly, despite its lowered suspension.

Through a series of corners, the ECOnetic is just as engaging to drive as other Fiestas, and delivers more grip and composure than its rival. It’s a capable cruiser, too, with a refined cabin at high speeds.

The fly in the ointment comes at the pumps, because the Ford couldn’t quite match the VW’s excellent fuel return. In our hands, it managed a solid 46mpg, which is 1.8mpg adrift. This is key in a test of eco models – although the Fiesta is still very efficient, and 98g/km emissions mean it’s also exempt from road tax. That’s impressive when you consider how good it is to drive.

The choice will depend on how much you value pure economy and the sacrifices you’re prepared to make. But either way, the Fiesta ECOnetic is a brilliant green buy.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Tuned to deliver maximum efficiency, the Fiesta is our current green supermini class leader. But now it faces its sternest test.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025
Mazda electric plan
Mazda

Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025

The electrification push forms part of Mazda’s goal to become a completely carbon neutral company by 2050
17 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021