With the dwindling oil stocks making the headlines daily,
small cars should be the go for everyone these days. The Thai government is also
pushing the ‘e-car’ concept, and after reading about this small Ford, I just
wish that Ford Thailand would bring these out here. Apart from everything else,
the small physical size would help the dreadful traffic congestion in
Thailand’s major cities.
Our Down-under correspondent John Weinthal was so impressed
with the Fiesta, he entitled his report, “A touch of class”.
the host of different categories of cars perhaps the most competitive is the
less expensive small to medium sector. It covers everything from the Hyundai
Getz and Kia Rio through Mitsubishi Lancer and Nissan Pulsar to lower-end
Corolla, Ford Focus and Holden Astra.
“Size is certainly not the lone factor in this category,
nor is it entirely price-based. There are Peugeots and Volkswagens, Renaults and
even the odd-ball Mercedes A Class.
“But today we are looking at a new Ford which could prove a
powerful competitor to the established order. The German-engineered Ford Fiesta
fits my subjective category to a tee. It comes with a 1.6 litre 74kW engine
across its range and costs from AUD 15,000 to 23,000. It is available as a three
or five door hatch.
has a touch of class to its styling and a reasonable kit of standard equipment.
Of course things are rarely simple in this motoring business, nor are they when
defining the Fiesta.
“The range opens with an LX three-door manual for AUD
14,990 which rises to AUD 17,490 with a four-speed automatic and ABS brakes.
These come as a package. The same applies to the LX five-door hatch with prices
of AUD 16,000 for manual and the same three grand premium for the auto and ABS
up is the Zetec. Antilock brakes and a host of other gear are standard at AUD
19,000 for the manual and AUD 21,290 for the auto. The Fiesta range tops out
with the still more lavish Ghia manual at AUD 21,490 and AUD 23,790 with auto.
“Zetec is available only as a three-door hatch and the Ghia
as a five door. The three-door Zetec impressed immediately with both its
external and internal styling and distinct look of quality.
“A comfortable driving position was easily achieved. The
only mild surprise was finding a Ford with the wiper stalk on the right and
indicators on the left of the steering wheel. One adjusts to this within a day
or two and it is a feature common to most cars from Europe, Korea and America,
including the somewhat larger and excellent Ford Focus.
“In other words, one is ‘at home’ with the Fiesta right
from the start - simple, straightforward, comfortable, appealing to the eye and
effective and logical in all of its controls.
“But the Fiesta stands out in the driving. It is well above
class average in refinement and quietness. It has pleasingly communicative
steering. The gear change is slick. The brakes are reassuring. The performance
delivery is such that it always felt that, at the very least, its 74 kW were
“This car can be brisk and likes to be driven in that
manner. The ride is impressively bump absorbent but not at the expense of the
handling which can actually encourage enthusiastic driving over any road. The
Fiesta was not fazed by cracked suburban street surfaces. It was also happy over
“The base LX misses out on air/con, remote audio controls
on the steering column, alloy wheels, front fog lamps and ABS brakes except as a
package with the auto transmission. However, it does have remote keyless entry,
power windows and mirrors and a CD player.
“The Zetec scores all of the above, but makes do with a
single slot CD against the Ghia’s six stacker. The Ghia, as well as being a
five door, also gains front fog lamps which, no doubt, some idiot owners will
use to try to blind other road users. There is also some minor trim
“However one looks at it, the Fiesta is a class act in its
styling and driver appeal and a big advance on Kia-based Festivas of the recent
(Thank you John, and as I wrote in the introduction, how I wish we had them
here! Dr. Iain.)
Well first off, don’t write off Michael Schumacher, just
because he’s 6th on the grid. A magnificent win and his 7th at the Montreal
Secondly, we learned that Toyota and Williams both were
disqualified after post-race scrutineering for discrepancies in their front
brake ducts. Of course both teams tried to say that there was no performance
advantage from this. Williams technical director Sam Michael told the news
agency Reuters that his team would not be appealing the decision. He admitted
that their brake ducts did not comply with regulations, but insisted that the
discrepancy was an unintentional error. Toyota’s Mike Gascoyne said that an
unforeseen error was the cause. Gascoyne was silly enough to say, “It is
Toyota’s policy to always run cars that conform to all regulations. This is
simply a regrettable and unforeseen issue that led to no competitive
advantage.” Unfortunately, he appears to have forgotten that Toyota is the
only manufacturer currently competing to have previously been found guilty of
cheating and excluded for 12 months! He may have forgotten. I have not.
As a motor racer myself, let me also state quite plainly that
you do not run illegal bits on your car to gain no advantage. Which shower did
Williams F1 and Toyota think we came down in?
We also learned that yet again, the first corner claimed its
victims. How many times do I have to say, “You don’t WIN the race at the
first corner - you only LOSE the race at the first corner.” Team managers from
McLaren, Jaguar and Jordan should write that out 100 times! The ‘real’
situation was apparently that rookie Glock in the Jordan, ran into Klien in the
Jaguar, who rammed Coulthard who spun. Klien then climbed over the McLaren’s
wheel and landed on top of team mate Mark Webber, breaking his rear suspension.
So now you know!
Renault was not its usual self. Trulli (who out-qualified boy
wonder Alonso again) didn’t even get one lap in, and Alonso exploded his
engine later in the race while running about 5th. Sato in the BAR hand grenaded
yet another Honda. They will not be pleased.