New Ford Fiesta claims B-car tech leadership

  • 30-Nov-2016 01:18 EST
FORD11-16_FIESTA_ST-LINE_34_FRONT (640x481).jpg

Clearly a Ford Fiesta but the new generation is more sculpted and gets an even larger front grille. A design aim was to achieve a "more premium appearance." Shown is the ST-Line version.

It may look similar to the current model but Ford describes its next generation Fiesta as the “world’s most technologically advanced small car.”

Revealed in Cologne at the company’s latest “Go Further” event that signals what’s in the design, technology and engineering pipeline, the new Fiesta will project Ford’s determination to produce models with “more premium appearance,” complemented by other aspects of quality ascendance.

For the Fiesta, these span everything from quieter cabins (road noise reduced by a claimed 7%), more luxury touches and enhanced safety, to achievement of improved build quality that even includes analysis of noise frequencies produced during stamping to identify any component that is below required quality standards.

The Fiesta variants now include an Active crossover, marking the introduction of the Active category scheduled to join the Ford model range. Just how active the Fiesta Active will be is not yet clear. Ford describes it as having SUV-inspired styling with roofbars, and raised ride height. It will be added to the range after the launch at a later, unspecified date.

Taking the B-car upscale

Engine choice includes a 103-kW (138-hp) 1.0-L Ecoboost triple and an 88-kW (118 hp)1.5-L diesel. (Ford also announced cylinder deactivation for its diminutive triple.) A new 6-speed transmission with reduced internal friction is also introduced. Although not yet officially confirmed, the best Fiesta CO2 emission figure is 82 g/km (equivalent to 66.5 mpg). An ST-Line Fiesta has sports suspension and sporty styling touches.

A high performance ST is expected. The Fiesta will be manufactured in both three and 5-door hatchback configurations.

The Fiesta leads the way for Ford to feature a premium Bang & Olufsen PLAY sound system. It also gets Ford’s SYNC3 connectivity and high-brightness-level, floating high definition touch screens.

Jim Farley, Ford’s Executive Vice President and President Europe, Middle East and Africa, says the evolutionary and highly mature new car brings technologies and features that customers for small cars “could only have dreamed of just a few years ago."

In fact it is 40 years since the first Fiesta was launched but that, too, had some pretensions to grandeur via a relatively plush Ghia version.

But now, mere pretension is an absolute no-no, so the top-notch new Fiesta version, (accompanied by the adjectives “upscale” and “luxurious”) is the Vignale that must deliver on its targeted status. It has “hexagonal-quilted, tuxedo-stitched” leather seats, so no understatement there.

Higher specification Ford models in Europe accounted for nearly 60% of sales in the first 10 months of 2016, reported the company.

Cabin noise reduction

Discerning Fiesta buyers may notice (or perhaps not notice) parking sensors fitted flush with body panels; windshield washer nozzles tucked away beneath the upper hood (bonnet) edge; no visible screws in the tail lights; and the shutline between roof and tailgate reduced by 30%. Interior surfaces appear flush and seamless.

Particular attention has been paid to seat durability, with 60,000 test cycles for seat bolsters, engineers said. And leather seats have to “resist ground-in coffee” (no pun apparently noticed by Ford) and dye from denim jeans. Leather steering wheels are tested for resistance to sunscreen lotion, which must rank as one of the more unlikely, and to some absurd, aspects of testing. More sensibly, for driving in cold climates, the steering wheel can be heated.

Ford targeted cabin noise reduction as a must for the Fiesta; a 15% torsionally stiffer body structure helps. It uses 36% more boron steel incorporated in key areas such as the upper section of the B-pillars where a T-section more effectively transfers side impact energy into the roof. The car also gets stiffer front subframe attachment points, welded twistbeam attachment points, and reduced NVH via powertrain isolation and an acoustic windshield. All this supports claims of a best-in-class interior road noise level of 29.3 sone at 100 km/h.

Some of the fine detail of Ford engineers' pursuit of quality also includes 20% less effort to close the Fiesta’s doors, although there is no reference to how they resist high velocity wind conditions.

“We have paid a lot of attention to elements and features that customers notice, without realizing it, from panel gaps to pedal feel,” explained Darren Palmer, small car vehicle line director, Ford of Europe.

Safety engineering

Fiesta is the first Ford in Europe to undergo computer simulation crash tests of a complete vehicle using advanced new FEA to generate more effective optimization of safety features. Interestingly, the introduction of a locking seatbelt tongue to help prevent belt slippage during an accident is described as obviating the need for a driver kneebag.

Complementing the luxury touches are 15 driver examples of specific assistance technologies including cameras (two), radars (three) and ultrasonic sensors (a dozen). They work together to provide 360° ambient monitoring, and with a 130-m scan range ahead.

An enhanced Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection is introduced capable of anticipating pedestrians who may cross the vehicle’s path at night. Further supporting its accent on pedestrian safety, the Fiesta also gets headlamps that move rearwards on impact and a collapsible cowl and windshield wiper spindle that give way in head impacts.

Cross Traffic Alert is claimed by Ford as a first in the small Ford’s sector. Adaptive cruise control is available.

Excellent and nimble handling has always been a major part of the all generations of Fiesta. The new car is claimed to have 10% more cornering grip than the outgoing model, partly due to electronic torque vectoring. Front track is wider by 30 mm (1.1 in), rear by 10mm. The wheelbase is increased by just 4mm, overall body length by 71 mm, and width grows by 12 mm. Eighteen-inch wheels are an option.

Braking distances from 100 km/h (62 mph) are shorter by 8%, the engineers claim. Steering friction is reduced by 20% and steering response benefits from the use of double-bonded suspension bushings. Twice as stiff as those on the “old” Fiesta, the new bushings “bulge in a specific shape” to better deal with road imperfections and to complement a larger rear twistbeam to reduce the effect of small bumps and also contribute to reduced cabin road noise.

As for the Fiesta’s new styling, it is clearly evolutionary. Ford offers some curious descriptions, saying the bonnet (hood) “offers a calmer design” with no center bulge and the “side profile is more settled.” But the grille, previously very large, gets even more prominence. As a down road graphic, it will certainly be noticeable. Like that tuxedo-stitched upholstery, understated it is not.

“We evolved the design to make it more contemporary, yet not lose the ‘Fiesta-ness’ that the customers love. Fiesta’s exterior is visually simpler, allowing us to create stronger personalities within the expanded line-up,” explains Joel Piaskowski, Director, Design, Ford of Europe.

No use is made of some favorite designer speak, such as “aggressive stance” or “athletic haunches.” Despite the huge grille, the Fiesta is all calmness, fluidity...and maturity, of course.

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