Copy of Article Text Below
.....glovebox, shelf, cubbies and door pockets.
We made some adverse remarks about the ride of the 1300S - which was in our opinion noticeably better than the 1100 in that respect. Further improvements have been achieved with the GL, but it is still no match in this area for some of the other small front-wheel drive hatchbacks on the market - notably, as we have mentioned, the Polo. Passenger comfort deteriorates sharply over really rough road surfaces, but we suspect that as much fault lies with the springiness of the seat cushions as with suspension design.
in other respects, the seats are good, their shape providing plenty of support to all vital areas, and allowing adequate headroom even for tall drivers. The driving position is good, with well-spaced pedals, and a neat array of column stalks; unfortunately, though, the action of these remains stiff and cumbersome. The minor switches are scattered rather untidily, and lack illumination for night-time use.
It is strange that Ford did not imitate in their smallest car the excellent instrument binnacles of their larger models; while the Fiesta's dials are simple, clear and attractively presented, they (like those of the VW Golf/Polo, on which they are closely based) are adversely affected by reflections in strong sunlight. A rev counter (standard on the S and Ghia) would be useful.
The Fiesta's heater controls - one horizontal slide for temperature control, the other for direction - are a model of simplicity, but we found once again that, partly due to the stiffness of the temperature slide, it was difficult to maintain a stable output of heat. The two-speed fan boost is quiet yet quite powerful on its lower setting.
In all of Ford's other models, the ventilation system is an example to other manufacturers, being at one time immensely efficient, adaptable, independent of the heater, and simple to control. In the Fiesta, which is by no means poor in a class where providing a refreshing quantity of air to the interior seems not to be a major priority, function has taken second place to form. The outlets are too small, and are not ideally sited; throughput is good, but well short of excellence.
One area in which Ford's development engineers deserve credit is in suppression of interior noise in the latest Fiestas. While the engine still goes through a boom period and becomes raucous at high rpm, it is markedly more relaxed during highspeed cruising than before. Wind noise is only noticeable above 80 mph, and not severe even then, and although there is some transmission whine and the tyres transmit rumble from some surfaces, this never reaches an objectionable level. This is now a very much more refined little car than was previously the case.
Interior finish of the GL is neat and simple, not quite as smart as the Ghia (which has velour rather than fabric seat trim), and overall we consider that the latest range of Fiestas is better put together than the earlier examples. Standard equipment includes a pushbutton MW/LW radio, front and rear armrests, an illuminated glovebox, three grab handles and a carpeted boot area, which along with other added sound-deadening material, contributes greatly to the improved refinement.
In our view, the Fiesta certainly justifies its popularity and sales success. It may not be the best of the small hatchbacks in all respects, but it offers an impressive mixture of performance, economy and accommodation. The GL is a welcome addition to the range which should make Ford's market domination even greater than at present. BL's overdue Metro will have to be both excellent and well-marketed to make a significant dent in Fiesta sales.
Model: Fiesta 1.3 GL
Maker: Ford Motor Co Ltd, Dagenham, Essex
Price: £3,109.38 plus £259.12 car tax plus £505.28 VAT equals £3,873.78
Top - Above: the interior is neat and simple, and in most respects well designed. Left: the instrument layout is also clear and simple, but suffers from reflections in strong sunlight. Below: this centre console, including radio and clock, is part of the GL package. The switchgear looks good here, but can be hard to find.