Ford Fiesta MHev review: supermini joins the green party

Friday, 12th March 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 12:01 pm

The Ford Fiesta must have one of the most comprehensive model ranges in the country, which might explain its near-total dominance of the sales charts.

Whether you want a peerless hot hatch with 200bhp or merely a well-equipped warm one, a fully-loaded luxury version with an auto ‘box and leather or a basement spec runaround with wind-up windows, the Fiesta has you covered. There’s even a silly but appealing SUV-inspired one with some cladding and a raised ride height.

From among this vast array we’ve plucked a distinctly middle-of-the-road version to test this week. Mid-spec with a mid-range power output and manual transmission, this mild hybrid is likely to take a substantial share of new Fiesta orders.

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The mild hybrid is a new addition to the range and essentially replaces the standard 123bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost. That engine is still available without the electric motor but only with an auto gearbox. All manual versions now offer the same power output but with the assistance of a 48V starter/generator setup.

Ford Fiesta MHEV Titanium

  • Price: £19,860 (£21,410 as tested)
  • Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo petrol with 48V hybrid ISG
  • Power: 123bhp
  • Torque: 155lb ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Top speed: 126mph
  • 0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
  • Economy: 57.6mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 115g/km

Like all mild hybrids the electrical element is there to add torque at low revs and offer a little support to the petrol engine rather than take over but you can still feel its contribution. Pick-up, especially under heavy acceleration and in higher gears, is just a little more immediate as the electric motor does its work while the turbo gets going. It’s hardly a life-changing improvement in performance but it’s an added edge to an already strong engine.

You’re actually far more aware of the hybrid when you’re slowing down. The Fiesta has the most obvious regenerative braking of any mild hybrid I’ve driven. Lift off the throttle and there’s a very obvious drag from the brakes as the system tries to recoup energy. Some drivers may find the level of regen off-putting but you’ll adapt to it, as you will to the nagging dashboard light telling you when to change gear and when to lift off the accelerator.

The point of any hybrid system is to lower CO2 emissions and improve economy and on that front the Fiesta MHev’s success is limited. Emissions are down to 115g/km and Ford says the car’s 57.6mpg is a five per cent improvement on the previous non-hybrid version. In my week with it I saw an average of 50mpg, but the longer term trip computer showed a lowly 46.5mpg, close to what I managed in the 199bhp Fiesta ST.

While that ST is in a class of its own, even lowly models like this remind you of how well sorted the Fiesta’s chassis is. With tall tyres and the weight of the hybrid system, this isn’t the most agile version but even still its handling is a match for sportier versions of rivals like the Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio.

Like the recently tested Kuga Titanium this mid-range model has probably got all the kit you’d need/want for most day-to-day use just without some of the fancy baubles of the ST-Line or Vignale trims. Leather trim, manual air con and an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring are standard as is a heated front screen, keyless start and the NCAP pack with lane keep assist, auto headlights and active speed limiter. The £900 Driver Assistance Pack adds adaptive cruise control (nice but hardly essential in a supermini) and the unnecessary advanced park assist, along with the more necessary and shamefully non-standard AEB and BLIS.

At around £20,000 this hybrid Titanium car is the sort of bread and butter model that forms the core of the Fiesta’s success. The fast ones and luxury ones are great in their own right but it’s this car’s unshowy mix of decent equipment, decent driving experience and strong drivetrain that will continue to draw buyers to the Blue Oval.