Ford Fiesta Zetec 2012 Review

Ford Fiesta Zetec 2012 Review

Of the huge number of vehicle models whose names have been wrenched from the Spanish dictionary, the Fiesta is arguably the most popular and well known in Europe. New Zealand hasn’t had the Fiesta as a direct import for that long (it was called the Festiva or something similar, if I remember rightly).

However, if it was called a Ford Party (the direct translation), it would have had naming allure of the Toyota Funcargo (even ‘cargo’ indirectly comes from the Spanish ‘cargar’ which means ‘to load’). Given a couple of hours,

I could name you probably another fifty, of which Trueno is my favourite (you can look it up at Google Translate).

Back to the car, though, which, despite its Euro-derived name, and unlike many other manufacturers, doesn’t claim to have ‘European styling’. European styling has never been something that convinces me of aesthetic greatness because if you’ve ever seen an early Porsche Cayenne or Renault Twingo you might have already stabbed yourself in the eyes with a toothpick.

The Fiesta is not sleek – it’s too short for that. It has a very strong nose framed by headlights that threaten to meet the windscreen.

The windscreen is steeply raked to help with pedestrian impact protection. The flanks feature a deep, widening channel that terminates at the rear wheel arch. The back is best side of the Fiesta with its roof spoiler and some tidy detailing, like aligning the tailgate crease with the top of the reversing lights. The Fiesta logo sits to the right of the number plate in a font almost befitting of a Halloween party.

The Zetec is currently the top of the range Fiesta in New Zealand, but the RS should arrive soon, which will make three models. The Zetec gets a body kit, bigger wheels and sports seats over the lower spec LX, and it’s $2000 more at $25,990.

The 16-inch alloys are the perfect size for the Fiesta. They come with 195/50R16 tyres which are, again, well matched to the car. The Fiesta is a car you can chuck around a bit if you’re so inclined as is has reasonable road skills and a nice direct feel to the steering and brakes.

The interior has a certain funkiness to it, although the plastics are a little hard in places – something that is to be expected on a car in this price bracket. The seats are a little hard on really long journeys. There’s plenty of legroom and even in the rear an adult can sit quite comfortably.

The boot space is big enough to fit a large chilly bin, large suitcase and backpack. More room is available if you fold the split folding seats forward.

You get a stereo with full Bluetooth integration (e.g. stream music from your phone), or you can hook up an Apple device directly and control it from the interface. Navigation buttons for scrolling through lists and pages are located just above the volume control.

Volume and music track selection can also be changed using buttons on the steering wheel, as can the cruise control. The Bluetooth integration extends to phone calls, and the dash itself is, according to Ford, mobile phone-inspired.

There’s only one real flaw in the Fiesta and that is its six-speed Powershift automatic gearbox. Or, perhaps it’s not the gearbox per se. The 1.6-litre engine feels like a 1.4 and it doesn’t have enough power to allow the gearbox stay in the higher gears and therefore it searches around very readily on inclines for the right ratio.

On a hill with the right gradient and at the right throttle position it was changing down then up then down then up every couple of seconds. Any more throttle and I would have exceeded 100; any less throttle and I would have been losing speed rapidly.

The gearbox wasn’t quite a jerky as the Peugeot 208 we tested recently, but it was noticeable enough and would be something that wouldn’t be such a problem with, perhaps 10-20 more Newton-metres of torque.

With its striking looks and competent handling the Fiesta stakes its own niche in the supermini marketplace. There’s nothing generic about it, but it still retains a broad appeal.

Price: $25,990


  • Superlative supermini
  • Great handling


  • Gearbox doesn’t match the quality of the rest of the car

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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