Ford has unveiled the new Fiesta amongst a host of headlines at a ‘Go Further’ event in Cologne.
The new Fiesta range will launch in 2017 in four distinct versions, while Ford is also announcing its intention to start testing autonomous cars on European roads, and revealing a version of its three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine with cylinder deactivation technology.
The Fiesta, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, will be offered in the familiar Titanium, a performance-pitched ST-Line version that likely previews the next Fiesta ST, a model in Ford’s upmarket Vignale sub-brand, and a new crossover-styled Active model.
Adding the Vignale and Active versions to the range of Britain’s best-selling car is seen by many as Ford’s answer to the growing threat from premium brands expanding into small cars, such as Audi with its Q2. Industry sources suggest that the upmarket-pitched Vignale and Active could be expanded further across the Ford range.
The exterior design of the latest Fiesta is evolved from the current model, with no radical styling departures. Details of the new car are currently scarce, though Ford does say that it will have an “ergonomic interior that offers a floating high-definition touchscreen” along with the Sync 3 communications and entertainment system, and for the first time in a Ford a premium B&O Play sound system.
Similarly there are no details yet as to the powertrains for the new Fiesta range, but they will no doubt include a new version of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit, which Ford says will be the first three-cylinder engine in the world to feature cylinder deactivation.
The technology can disengage or re-engage the cylinder in 14 milliseconds, is promised to be imperceptible to drivers in terms of operation and engine performance, and will aid fuel economy and emissions improvements.
Ford also announced the results of a European survey it commissioned as part of its Smart Mobility programme, revealing that the main benefits of self-driving cars in the view of motorists would be the ability to enjoy passing scenery, catch up with family and friends, and read a book.
Under the programme testing of Ford’s autonomous cars will expand onto European roads in 2017, adding to extensive testing already underway in the US.
According to Ford Europe Middle East and Africa president, Jim Farley, the brand has met aims made at the first ‘Go Further’ event four years ago. “Ford promised a leaner, smarter business in Europe with great products and new technologies – and we’ve over-delivered through the talent, ingenuity and passion of our people,” Farley says.
“We have delivered an all-new SUV line-up; set the performance car segment alight with our Focus RS and Ford Mustang; strengthened the backbone of our business with our award-winning commercial vehicle range; and re-written the rulebook on compact engines with our 1.0-litre EcoBoost – and that’s before we get to the next generation Fiesta,” he adds.