Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel Car (Test Drive Results and Review)

I’ve been test driving the new Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel car for the last few weeks to see if it lives upto it’s claim to save you money because it’s “Australia’s most fuel-efficient car” and whether it is a “green” car in terms of having less impact on the environment than a standard 4 cylinder small petrol car.

Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel Car

There are plenty of detailed overall Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel reviews from Australian motoring journalists which I’ve linked to further along in this article but I have some general points to make myself:

Likes

Lots of people asked me if the Econetic was “fun to drive” and “does it have enough power?”. The answer to both questions is Yes. I did find it fun to drive around Sydney because it handles well, has a lot of low end power and can accelerate quickly. All of these attributes make it very suitable for stop-start city driving.

Diesel cars are infamous for having noisy “tractor-like” engines but the new recent model diesel engines like the one used in the Econetic sounds fine, more like a purring cat.

I quite like the green light above the engine RPM gauge (tachometer) which lights up to suggest when you should change gears up to drive more fuel efficiently.

Dislikes

The Econetic has European style controls. So the windshield wiper control and turning signal indicators are on the opposite sides to standard Australian cars.

This meant that the first half dozen times I drove the car I often turned the windscreen wiper on instead of indicating left/right. While this might sound funny to you – it means that people driving behind new Econetic owners won’t be able to tell their intentions because of bad signalling caused by the car’s design.

I’m reasonably tall at 6 foot 3″ inches so when I was driving the driver seat was pushed back as far as it could go. This left hardly any space in the back seat for passengers, perhaps a small child could fit but an adult definitely wouldn’t have space for their legs.

Ford’s decision to cut the car weight and cost by removing the spare tyre altogether and replacing it with a tire inflator is a bad move for Australia where people often drive a few hundred or even thousand+ kilometres to visit friends or go on holiday. This may put off some potential buyers.

Fuel Efficiency

The Australian Government Green Vehicle Guide tested the Ford Econetic and says it has an average fuel economy rating of 3.7L/100km for mixed driving, 4.6L/100km in the city and 3.2L/100km on the highway.

Here are examples of several different driving trips I did around Sydney in varying traffic and weather conditions using the Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel.

Also as you can see by the average speeds of 25-35km/hr in city traffic I did not drive the Econetic on a motorway at 90km/hr because this loan car didn’t have a Toll Road tag. I’m sure that such a test would have got fuel efficiency numbers down to almost 3.0L/100km.

NOTE: During the first few trips I was getting used to the gearbox, acceleration, how the car handled etc so over time I was able to drive the car more economically.

Trip 1 – 4.8L/100km
Midday on Weekend. 37km/hr. 46.4km trip. Heavy rain. Air conditioning off and windows closed.

Trip 2 – 5.6L/100km
Peak Hour on Weekday. 27km/hr. 25km trip. Air conditioning on recirculated and windows closed.

Trip 3 – 4.9 km/100L
Lunchtime on Weekday. 23km/hr. 6.8km trip. Air conditioning off and windows open.

Trip 4 – 4.2km/100L
Lunchtime on Weekday. 26km/hr. 7km trip. Air conditioning off and windows open.

Trip 5 – 4.3km/100L
Afternoon on Weekend. 29km/hr. 30.7km trip. Air conditioning off and windows open.

Trip 6 – 4.5L/100km
Afternoon on Weekend. 35km/hr. 26km trip. Air conditioning on recirculated and windows closed.

Trip 7 – 3.4L/100km
Peak Hour on Weekday. 36km/hr. 24.3km trip. Air conditioning off and windows open.

Green Credentials?

The presenters of UK’s famous Top Gear TV show are famous for disliking diesel cars. So I was very surprised to hear that they had awarded the Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel “Least Boring Green Car of the Year” which is high praise coming from them.

Top Gear’s James May commented on the award in Australia’s Top Gear Magazine saying:

“The Fiesta is a good car. The ECOnetic version uses a 1.6-litre diesel coupled with rear aerodynamic aids, a lower final-drive ratio, lowered suspension and low rolling-resistance tires to create a car capable of reasonable performance while delivering 3.7 L/100km and CO2 emissions of under 100gm/km.”

“It’s a pity that at $24,990, it comes at a premium of around $4500 over a top-spec 1.6 litre petrol Fiesta, but saving the world has always been expensive and, frankly, a privilege of the rich.”

In-depth Reviews of the Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel Car

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Interior has a quality feel. Audio and Bluetooth functions can be bamboozling. Shallow rear seat for short trips only.

Engine Tall torque figure produces ample acceleration and good flexibility but no auto option could be a deal-killer. Taut steering and a well-tuned chassis combine for a perky, responsive experience.

Verdict:Australia’s most fuel-efficient car is also fun to drive, and surprisingly well equipped for a small car.
Fairfax Drive

If you were to think that the Fiesta ECOnetic was all about its astonishing fuel efficiency, and nothing else, you would be mistaken. It’s a Fiesta, and it drives like one. That means superb balance, brilliant underpinnings, precision at the wheel, and willing performance.

As we have noted in previous reviews, the Fiesta is the benchmark for the light car sector in handling. In manual form, petrol or diesel (the ECOnetic is currently available only in manual), it is a responsive and enjoyable steer. (It remains such a pity that the petrol auto lets the team down with a struggling 1.4 litre and off-the-pace automatic.)

For its purchase price, $24,990 drive away, internal space efficiency (its interior dimensions are not far shy of the Prius), its running costs and inherently simpler engineering, the ECOnetic is a hybrid crusher. We haven’t seen any pricing scales for all-electric vehicles (EVs), but chances are it’s an EV crusher too.
The Motor Report

Ford has released all the pertinent details: it will go on sale on 1 December 2009, at a price of AU$24,990 drive away, significantly undercutting the AU$40k Prius. Critically for headline writers, it’s been officially rated as more fuel efficient than the Toyota’s hybrid Prius.

Peer beneath the bonnet and you’ll find a reworked version of Ford’s 1.6-litre turbo-diesel (66kW/200Nm), which when combined with all the other details nets a fuel combined economy rating of 3.7L/100km — 4.6L/100km in the city and 3.2L/100km on the highway.

By comparison, the Toyota Prius has received a 3.9L/100km combined rating in the same testing — 3.9L/100km in the city and 3.7L/100km on the highway. Although the new Prius has the edge in CO2 emissions — 89 grams of CO2 per kilometre versus 98g/km in the Fiesta.

The more high economy cars that make their way down under the better, especially ones that are as affordable as this Fiesta.
CNET Australia


Ford Video Ad – Australia’s most fuel efficient car

14 thoughts on “Ford Fiesta Econetic Diesel Car (Test Drive Results and Review)”

  1. Why would they ruin an otherwise great car by leaving out the spare tyre? What happens if you destroy a tyre miles from civilization? Who makes the decision, someone in Europe who has no idea about Australia, or some cynical manger here, expecting that their typical, often female, buyer here would never think to ask?

  2. Seems to me like a pretty nice car. I’ve driven fiesta’s before, so I know the handling is quite nice. This econetic engine does surprise me with it’s efficiency. I mean, why drive a prius, when you can drive this instead?

  3. lol no spare tire! and not even a place to put one – thats one of those things like health insurance, you dont need it that often but when you do, you REALLY need it

  4. I am looking for a green, long-range capable car for highway, and occasional tar road outback driving.

    I agree with Justin; no spare tyre eliminates this one, sight unseen. In Australia, the lack of a full-sized spare is unacceptable. I suspect that this requirement will get ever more problematic as all small cars become “world cars”, designed elsewhere and to requirements quite unrelated to user needs, and different to any local needs, anywhere.

    As an aside, I do not like the styling. One person’s “modern” is another persons “garish”. Ford using a green coloured example for promotion adds to my dislike of this relatively minor aspect.

  5. JohnP, I couldn’t see any comment from Justin, but Jason is wrong about no place to put a spare tyre. I had a look in the boot and if you lifted out the polystrene carrier (for the tyre pump and other associated stuff) there would be ample room to fit a full sized spare for outback travel. Be sure to remove it after outback travel as it adds to the weight of the Econetic and increases fuel consumption slightly. Remembering that this car is designed to be extremely frugal.
    As for….. “world cars”,designed elsewhere and to requirements quite unrelated to user needs, and different to any local needs, anywhere. Really…….
    Our locally designed cars have spare wheels as standard but 6 and 8 cylinders is all you have to choose from. I suggest you stick with your Holden and be green with envy at a car that can achieve 3.2 litres/100km on the highway.

  6. LOL @ John.

    Oh well …. don’t like the green? Cool … there’s a lovely (boring) white and a (classic, everyone’s got one) silver for you to pick from.

    The lack of a spare tyre … is definitely unusual for and Australian motorist. Works for most Euro cars these days though …. but if you REALLY want one …. its not that hard to buy a rim and tyre for the spare wheel that, as Mark D attests, is fitted to the car.

    Change doesn’t sit easily to many people …. but move with the times people.

  7. I’d rather a Hyundai i30 CRDi…..
    It’s a more practical size, has a full size spare tyre & the 1.6 litre engine produces much more torque & power than the Econetic. And it doesn’t use a great deal more fuel in the process…..

  8. Russell, you are not comparing apples with apples. The rivals for the i30 CRDi are the Ford Focus TDCi, the Astra CDTi and the Kia Soul CRDi (also from Korea)
    The difference in economy is huge! 60mpg (imperial) for the Hyundai versus 76mpg for the Econetic. That’s about 26% better. The main point of the Econetic was maximum real world economy (better than a Prius) and the German chassis dynamics make the Fiesta a great steer. My Econetic is fun to drive and put a VERY big smile on my face when I took my 3 sons to QLD and got 86mpg (3.2l/100k). Melbourne to Gunnedah(NSW) 1,115km and there was still 4 litres remaining in the fuel tank. Does your i30 have cruise control, blue tooth with voice recognition and 5 star ANCAP rating or DSC and EBD?

  9. Mark D, the reason I was “comparing” them as such is because they have the same size engine.

    As for the huge difference in fuel economy, I wouldn’t call around 1 litre per 100k’s between the 2 as being huge, assuming we are using the ADR quoted figures.
    Considering Ford has gone out of their way to chase fuel economy it really isn’t that much, especially when you take into consideration that the i30 weighs over 1400 kilos compared to the Econotec’s 1088.
    Also consider that the i30 diesel produces significantly more power and torque, has wider tyres and also includes a full size spare, and you’ve gotta wonder how much better fuel economy could’ve been achieved if Hyundai decided to follow the Econetic route and pruned the weight and ran low rolling resistance tyres.

    Anyhow, for me it’s a no brainer, I’d rather sacrifice a little fuel economy for the extra power & torque, rear passenger space, full size spare, larger boot, rear disc brakes…oh, and the ability to be able to tow a trailer.

    As for your question? My i30 has cruise control, 5 Star ANCAP rating, ABS with EBD & ESP with TCS…It doesn’t have bluetooth (apparently the latest model i30 does)…
    Just to top things off, Hyundai give a 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty compared to Ford’s 3years/100,000k…..

    Cheers 🙂

  10. Russel, my Bedford bus has a 5 litre petrol engine and so does my mates Holden Statesman. The comparison stops there because one is a pumpkin and the other a hot chili.

    As for fuel economy 26% is a huge difference……That’s better than 1 in 4
    If you bought a carton of beer stubbies (24) and 6 were missing…you’d say not much difference?

    The extra torque and power of your Hyundai also has to carry extra weight and in fact the Fiesta Econetic pips it for power/weight and torque/weight.

    Econetic Nm/Kg 0.1838 Kw/Kg 0.06066
    Hyundai Nm/Kg 0.1812 Kw/Kg 0.06036

    I could go on………..I already have a towbar on my E-gas Falcon 2300kg capacity (Oh no, it has a space saver spare that has never been used in 245,000km)………BTW… Long factory warranties are a marketing tool and generate higher dealership service work…….My neighbour’s Hyundai Elantra had a warranty fitted clutch at 15,000km and an out of warranty dealer fitted clutch at 26,000km. At 41.000km I fitted a Repco clutch because we both agreed Hyundai Elantra genuine clutches were rubbish. Another friend bought a new Hyundai Excel that had piston slap from new. The dealer attempted to repair the engine and ended up replacing it 10,000kms later
    You bought an i30 because it meets your requirements for size and features.
    I bought an Econetic because it is the MOST fuel efficient car for sale in Australia and fun to drive.

    As I said apples with apples

  11. Mark, however you compare it, the difference in real world fuel consumption is really bugger all….a whole $1.20/1.30 every hundred k’s….loose change….I’d happily pay that just for the extra comfort and leg room afforded to the driver and passengers.

    As for bagging the hyundai warranty, what you say may be true and it most likely does generate a little extra service work but, when you think about it, how many services over the extra 2 years do they actually get considering servicing is only every 15,000k’s…..for most drivers it’s maybe 2 or 3. I’d rather the peace of mind of the extra 2 years warranty, thanks…

    Re your Hyundai horror stories, we both know we could just as easily trot out plenty of Ford nightmare’s too….The Territory and it’s issues with ball joints and brake hoses are just 2 that spring to mind….
    You might also be interested to know that in regards to people satisfaction with their cars, Hyundai are right up there at the top….see here: http://blue.canstar.com.au/vehicles/cars/

    Anyhow, like you said, I bought my i30 cos’ it met my requirements and you bought your Econetic because it was the most fuel efficient car in Oz.

    Happy Motoring!

  12. I would agree that it is Australia’s most fuel-efficient car but I actually didn’t like handling of fiesta. Hyundai could do much better than that .but still average matters!! 😀

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