Small cars and automatic gearboxes are a rare combination. Why is that? Well, auto ‘boxes tend to add a couple of thousand to the list price of a car.
And they’re also more complex than manual transmissions, and can have a negative impact on fuel economy figures. Basically, they make cars usually bought solely for budget reasons a little bit more expensive. Which is a bit silly.
Our Ford Fiesta Ecoboost Powershift is no exception. In this Titanium spec, it’ll set you back £16,195 (although you can get it in Zetec trim for £15,915). Add to that the options our test car has – from sat-nav to a rear view camera, and you’re looking at £18,345. Over £18,000 for a 1.0-litre petrol Fiesta. Bonkers.
For that kind of money you’d expect a fairly premium interior. And you don’t really get one. My biggest gripe is the tiny TFT screen with the same dark, pathetic sat-nav you find across the Ford range. As a result, the centre console is littered with buttons that we’re now used to finding in the depths of infotainment systems. This does mean that when you’re used to them they should be easy to find when driving, but at first it’s confusing. We struggled to even find Radio 1.
If you can overlook these gripes (difficult for the outlay, perhaps), things start to improve. We only took the Fiesta for a little drive (this is first 5 minutes), and once you’re on the move the Fiesta starts to make a lot more sense. The dual-clutch gearbox is particularly sweet. It makes town driving so easy you start to wonder why people bother with manual transmissions in small cars, and once you get on the open road it kicks down quickly when required, or gets in a high, efficient gear when possible.
Drive it hard and, from our experience of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost, fuel economy won’t be anywhere near the claimed 57.7mpg. But you’ll have a laugh doing so – keep your foot to the floor and the gearbox is happy to hold on the revs until close to the redline, and it feels quicker than its 11.2 seconds 0-62mph time. It sounds surprisingly good, too.
We briefly tried it in sport mode using buttons on the gearstick to change gear. It seems a little pointless, really – most people don’t bother using paddle shifters if they have them, and we expect they’ll use these buttons even less.
So, despite a less than impressive start, things are looking good for the Fiesta. We’ll let you know how we get on.