By Robin Roberts
CAR sales rise and fall, but when it comes to choice there is enduring popularity for the Ford Fiesta, the top seller in Wales and the rest of Britain so far this year.
Nearly 40 possible versions are available to British buyers with three and five-door bodystyles, six trim levels and a choice of petrol or diesel engines with manual or automatic transmissions. Essentially there is something to please almost anyone and residual values hold up well because of this strong demand.
But time doesn’t stand still and the seventh generation Fiesta launched last year is bigger than before and matching the early Focus model which has now been enlarged as well. There is more legroom front and back and a decent sized boot continues, while upfront the completely new fascia display comes with a big infotainment screen and communications system to meet what buyers expect.
But it’s not all forward progress because with the new Fiesta series, Ford has reverted to a traditional automatic transmission and spurned the dual-clutch system it has offered for a few years, citing cost considerations for the move.
That’s not a bad move, however, because the six-speed automatic box is a very easy to use, smooth if not quiet unit well matched with the 100ps 3cyl turbo-petrol engine. It’s not the quickest or most economical powertrain in the range but it means you have a very easy to drive city car for those who simply want to get from A – B or even C.
It will cover distances with ease and fairly economically nudging 40mpg most of the time, with smooth changes and the ability to hold down for more rapid overtaking. The test car also had automatic stop/start to save fuel but even with this its realistic consumption figure was well short of the claimed amount in publicity material based on European tests.
The little engine is generally quiet but push it hard and the effort is heard and overtakes the constant road rumbles from the tyres. Wind and other mechanical noises were very low in contrast.
A lot of effort has gone into the new Fiesta’s ride and handling and both are very good, slightly firm, but generally compliant and responsive with accurate steering and strong brakes. Roadholding is safe and sure.
The secondary controls are straightforward and unchallenging to master and use, with decent sized instruments, a good-sized infotainment display on the upper Vignale spec and reasonable oddments space infront. Heating and ventilation was also comfortable throughout with powered windows appreciated as well.
The five-door style gives very good rear-seat access, much easier than the restrictive three-door shape, and when inside the head and legroom was reasonable. I had an issue with the extremely poor adjustment for the front seats rake and which was almost impossible to select without opening the a door to move the release.
The front seats were big, possibly too wide in the cushion for the cabin space, but they were well padded, shaped and comfortable. A fairly low waistline, big windows, strong headlights and effective wash/wipers meant visibility was generally clear.
Personal taste meant I found hard plastic surfaces unpleasant inside the new Fiesta where so much has been done to lift refinement and keep it ahead of the game.
Rivals are now harder to beat and Ford cannot be complacent with their best seller because buyers have freedom of choice.
At a glance
Ford Fiesta 1.0I VIGNALE E/BOOST S/S 5DR 100PS P/SHIFT
- Price: £21,840
- Mechanical: 100ps 999cc 3cyl petrol engine, 6sp auto
- Max Speed: 111mph
- 0-62mph: 12.2sec
- Combined MPG: 38mpg
- Insurance Group: 10E T2
- C02 emissions: 118 g/klm
- Bik rating: 24%, £160FY, £140SR
- Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
- Sizes: L4.04m, W1.74m, H1.48m
- Bootspace: 292–1093 litres
- Kerb: 1206kg
For: Engine refinement, ride quality, handling
Against: Front seat adjustment, hard int surfaces, some road & engine noises
Work begins on new station at Bow Street
TRANSPORT for Wales has begun work on the new £8-million railway station at Bow Street in Ceredigion.
Opening to passengers in 2020, the station, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport, will include park and ride facilities, cycle storage and a multi-modal transport interchange. The scheme is being delivered by TfW, Network Rail and Ceredigion County Council.
Part funded by the Department for Transport via the New Stations Fund , the new station will provide a link to the national rail network for the community of Bow Street for the first time since the former station was closed in 1965. This will transform transport for local residents, providing links for employment and educational opportunities. Through providing alterative travel, it will also help ease road congestion on local roads supporting the sustainability agenda.
Located close to the UK Innovation and Research Campus that is being developed by Aberystwyth University, the station will provide access between the site and the University’s main campus in Aberystwyth itself.
The station will be served by trains on the Cambrian Line between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, and will be the first of several improvements to services on the line as part of TfWs transformation of the Wales and Borders rail service.
Bow Street will benefit from the introduction of brand new trains and an hourly weekday service from 2022, and other stations along the line will benefit from investment as part of TfWs £194 million Station Improvement Vision.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
“Our vision for railways includes the opening of new stations and the improvement of connectivity across all regions in Wales. This is the beginning of delivering that ambition. Bow Street Station will improve links to employment, business, education and leisure facilities in Mid Wales.
“We have been clear about the need for greater investment by the UK Government so we welcome this funding from the Department for Transport, which sits alongside our own funding. We look forward to further joint working and investment from the UK Government, which has responsibility for rail infrastructure under the current devolution settlement, to improve rail infrastructure in all parts of Wales.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said:
“I’m delighted that work has started on the new station at Bow Street as it’s an important part of our plans to transform transport throughout the whole of Wales.
“This is the first station we’re building since we took over the Wales and Borders rail service, and we’ve committed to at least five further schemes, demonstrating our commitment to investing in connecting communities throughout Wales to the rail network.”
Claire Williams, Community Rail Officer said:
“The Bow Street Interchange project will make the railway more accessible for passengers from all over the county as well as reducing the amount of congestion on the roads within the area, therefore reducing the carbon emissions which of course is fundamentally better for the environment. The Cambrian Railway Partnership is proud to have been involved in this project from its inception and look forward to its opening later this year.”
W P Lewis & Son best in Wales
PEMBROKESHIRE Vauxhall retailer W P Lewis & Son is the top for customer care in Wales for the seventh year in a row.
Denis Chick, Communications Director of Vauxhall Motors visited the dealership to present the team with Vauxhall’s 2018 customer excellence award.
The award is based on the results gained from Vauxhall satisfaction surveys sent out to customers and W P Lewis & Son is one of only four in Britain achieve award status consecutively since inception of the awards in 2012.
Steve Lloyd, Managing Director said, “I am extremely proud of our team who work tirelessly to provide the personal touch when it comes to customer care and Vauxhall’s customer excellence awards is testament to the hard work of our small team”.
The company is the only Vauxhall retailer in Wales to have achieved all 7 consecutive awards.
“Much of our team have been with the family business for many years and we certainly see ourselves as one big family. Our team provide a great service to our customers who in turn have provided us with wonderful feedback to Vauxhall which we are hugely grateful for,” added Steve.
Vauxhall Communications Director Denis Chick praised the team’s continuing success, “W P Lewis is a credit to the Vauxhall franchise. Winning the Customer Excellence Reward 7 years running shows that caring for customers is a top priority and one that the whole team can be proud of”.
Steve concluded “On behalf of our Director Margaret Lewis, I would like to thank staff and customers alike for their overwhelming support”.
Kia Stinger 2.0 turbo-petrol
By David Miles
IT’S expected to become the best seller in this exciting new range of luxury saloons from the Korean manufacturer, which introduced the new model series at the end of 2017 with a powerful 365bhp 3.3 litre GT-S and they will be joined this spring by 197bhp 2.2 turbo-diesel.
Kia’s current advertising theme is ‘The Power to Surprise’ and with the arrival of the Stinger that is certainly true. The stunning to look at Stinger is the latest result of ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer move to the Kia and Hyundai brands and that has been further enhanced by the recruitment of ex-BMW M division’s chassis and vehicle development guru Albert Biermann joining the team.
The Stinger is an imposing five door coupe styled GT car with muscular wheelarches, a low stance and roofline, sculptured door panels, a sleek new version of the Kia Tiger Nose grille, long bonnet, air flow vents in the front lower bumper and lower front wings with air intakes in the bonnet for the intercooler. At the rear is a sharply raked tailgate, a spoiler plus a lower body diffuser flanked by double twin exhaust tailpipes.
The GT-Line versions with the 2.0-litre petrol engine has a comprehensive level of sports specification including 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, sports front seats, heated and powered driver’s seat, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, head-up display, parking sensors, cruise control, selectable driving modes, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning alerts and speed limit information as well as DAB radio and the usual Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity functions. The GT-Line S level adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, LED headlights, heated rear seats, powered tailgate, 360-degree surround view camera, sunroof and wireless phone charging.
When it comes to performance the 2.0-litre Stinger is not all ‘show’ and no ‘go’. With the eight-speed auto gearbox and an ample 353Nm of torque from 1,400rpm the acceleration is responsive when needed yet remains calm when the car is travelling on congested roads.
The official Combined Cycle figure of 35.8mpg for the 2.0-litre petrol model was optimistic as I couldn’t get close in my brief test drive so the real-life figure was 25.1mpg.
As is often the case, a smaller capacity engine works harder and uses more fuel for the same result but the benefit is significantly lower taxation costs.
In most other respects the Stinger is well balanced with its long wheelbase and wide front and rear tracks and fast response steering rack.
All versions have a Drive Mode Selector which gives five different gearshift and throttle settings and a limited slip differential for optimum traction from the two rear wheels during cornering.
So, true to their advertising word, Kia ‘continues to surprise’.
At a glance
KIA STINGER 2.0 TURBO PETROL
For: Great exterior sports five door GT coupe styling, high specification, good value for money, much cheaper to buy with less costly taxes than the 3.3-litre version but it still looks the same, long warranty, good to drive, roomy with ample boot space
Against: Cluttered interior with unrefined layout of controls and switches, limited rear visibility through the tailgate window, no rear window wash/wipe unit, lacks a suitable sporty exhaust tone.
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