One for the Fashionistas as the Fiesta gets a little makeover

 

By Philip Hedderman

You know you’re getting old when you repeat old phrases favoured by your granny – and actually believe them.

 

One such nugget  … “the summers were warmer”

 

Ah, yes they were scorchers, especially 1976.

 

June, July and August were hotter than the Med which led to water shortages and a Ladybird epidemic.

 

It regularly it 30 + degrees and when you’re 7-years-old and running the streets in just shorts and rubber sandals …  its bliss.

 

Personal nostalgia aside, what makes that particular year so memorable was the launch of the Ford Fiesta.

 

We’d seen nothing quite like it and a whole generation fell in love in an instant.

 

It’s hard to believe that it is 35 years since the first little hatch rolled off the production line.

 

Designed by Henry Ford II and original called the Bobcat, it hit our shores in a blaze of publicity.

 

The nippy little run-around came in a 40 bhp, 1.0 litre (957cc) or 45bhp 1.1 L complete with driver’s wing mirror, carpet on the floor and two, yes, two-speed windscreen wipers.

 

It was the first mass produced, front wheel drive car for the Blue Oval badge and came with pretty impressive credentials.

 

 

She had a 0-60mph in 17.6 seconds, a top end of 85mph and returned a very frugal 35mpg.

 

If you were feeling a bit flush, optional extras list included a matching passenger mirror and a pop up glass sunroof.

 

She wiped the floor with everything around her – not surprising considering the competition were the Opel Chevette, Austin Metro and the Chrysler Sunbeam.

 

Although, not available in right hand drive in Ireland and the UK until January ’77 order books were absolutely heaving and within two short years the Fiesta broke the 1 million mark.

 

Roll on another 30 odd years and now in its sixth generation,Europe’s favourite – B Segment car has exceeded 15 million.

 

It has truly stood the test of time and is the only car model in Ford to span almost 5 decades.

 

Siblings the Escort, Cortina andGranadaall succumbed.

 

It’s not hard to see just why the Fiesta is such a world success.

 

Cheap, cheerful and good to drive were the secret ingredients then, and bar technology, is pretty much the same today.

 

The Mark VI, launched in 2008 andEurope’s biggest selling car in 09, has just had a bit of a tweak with a few interior styling changes.

It also comes in a new colour ‘Fashionesta’ – or metallic brown to you and me.

From the Fiesta Style onwards the range now comes with touches of real luxury including a full leather soft-touch steering wheel, trip computer and ‘chic’ new seat trim.

On the outside we get fog lamps with chrome surrounds and unique wheel trims.

The range topping Titanium boasts further upgrades, including a new chrome strip for the upper front grille; snazzy 15-inch alloy wheels and partial leather seats are also available as an option.

So, style wise it is leading the field, but what about the drive?

Well, that can be summed up in one word – Fun.

Ticking all the right boxes, the Fiesta is a real A student.

Steering is precise and engaged while the chassis is agile without being too light.

Perfect for zipping around city streets while on the motorway it has the feel of a much bigger car.

Road noise is kept to an absolute minimum and it never feels like its punching above its weight.

That’s down to the plucky 1.25 litre, 80bhp petrol power plant which has oceans of torque and plenty of poke.

It’s easy on the juice too – averaging around 45mpg while resting in tax band B (meaning €156 a year to tax).

Euro for euro there is nothing to touch the Fiesta.

Picking holes in it is pretty impossible as long as you compare and contrast with a car in the same price, styling and level of spec.

A prime example of this is the ice warning aid which alerts the driver with an amber snowflake which lights up on the dash when the outside temperature drops below 4 degrees.

I have driven some ‘premium’ end motors in the past which hadn’t such important life-saving driver aids.

Like the sunroof in ’76, the little car with the big heart never ceases to surprise.

Prices fro the Fiesta range start from €15,235.