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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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