Steering Column 18.07.08

Gorgeous Fiesta

FORD has revealed early details about the new Fiesta it plans to launch onto the UK market in October.

It goes on at some length about how it’s stronger, safer, more comfortable, more efficient and more comfortable, but I tell you now, it’s going to sell well because it’s utterly gorgeous.

You just can’t get away with making a good car that’s ugly these days, and the small car sector is one in which some of the best looking models are already having an impact on the market. Look at little hatchbacks from Mazda, Peugeot and Vauxhall to illustrate my point.

First look at the new Fiesta shows a hugely pleasing combin­ation of creases and bulges in the bonnet and flank, long and tapered headlamps and a rounded cockpit-style roofline. Over the past 32 years we’ve seen some deeply unpleasant looking incarnations of the little car but despite that over 12 million have been sold world­wide. Expect great things of the new one.

We’re told that all powertrains are either new or enhanced for greater efficiency. Included in the range of three and five-door cars are two new engines – the environ­mentally friendly ECOnetic turning out less than 100g/km of carbon dioxide, and the range-topping 120bhp 1.6 Ti-VCT Duratec petrol engine.

Ford says it has a stiffer body structure, it weighs 40 sugar-bags less than the outgoing model, it’s got a huge collection of airbags to keep you safe in a crash, and it’s got some of Ford’s latest gadgets to make it more attractive – things like the capless fuel filler, keyless entry and a start button.

Last year 103,000 Fiestas were sold in the UK, but staying on top these days means constant up­dating. I see no reason why, if the prices remain sensible, this latest version shouldn’t surpass that.


Airdream may sound like a manu­facturer of mattresses or pillows, but it’s actually the moniker Citroën has chosen for its most environmentally friendly motorcars.

The French manufacturer tells us around 50 vehicles in its current line-up will qualify for the insignia, from the little C1 hatchback to the Grand C4 Picasso people-carrier.

To get the label, cars have to either produce less than 120g/km of carbon dioxide, be fitted with a diesel particulate filter system, run on superethanol or be fitted with an automatic engine switch off for when the car’s stationary. On top of that they will have to have been built in an environmentally approv­ed factory and, when they ultimat­ely have to be scrapped, 95 per cent of them has to be recyclable.

Citroën says the with fuel being so pricey and global warming featuring so highly in the news, the Airdream label will help customers make an informed decision when looking for a new car. Perhaps more selfishly, once you’ve bought it, having the Airdream label on the car will also raise your standing with the Eco-lobby.

R3 ready for launch

Mazda is just over a month away from launching the latest version of its rotary-engined sportscar, the RX-8.

Known as the R3, it’s meant to offer “faster responses and even more driving fun”. There will be just one, well-equipped model on sale from late August and it will cost just under £25,000.

The twin-rotor engine turns out almost 230bhp and it’s backed up by a stiffer bodyshell, upgraded suspension, lower gearing, better aerodynamics and new Recaro sports seats. It’s got a six-speed manual gearbox, we’re told it’s good for 146mph and it’ll clip through 62mph in 6.4 seconds.

Mike Grundon


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