10 tech-tastic features inside the new Ford Fiesta 2012
5th Dec 2012 | 10:00
The classic supermini, now packed with high-tech, luxury features
Ford's just unveiled the latest iteration of the venerable 35-year-old Fiesta, and it's brimming with technology you'd normally associate with much bigger, more premium cars.
You've got Ford SYNC, intelligent driving-aware safety features, personalised keys, and even a five-inch screen to keep you entertained, all packed into its supermini chassis.
Here are our 10 favourite techy toys in the 2012 Ford Fiesta.
1. Ford SYNC
Ford's finally put Ford SYNC in a car headed for the UK that's perfect for city driving. It's Ford and Microsoft's stab at vehicle connectivity, enabling you to hook up a phone or media device, either via USB or Bluetooth.
SYNC will connect to most modern smartphones, with Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone and even Symbian included. Ford and Microsoft continue to regularly check phone compatibility, with 290 already tested. Up to five different phones or devices can be connected via Bluetooth at once, which means anyone in the car can stream their own music.
Once integrated into the system, you can then browse media, make calls with integrated phone book scanning, have texts read out to you with built-in recognition of text speak and certain smileys, and pull off other in-car entertainment control features simply with the sound of your voice.
OK, you might feel a bit stupid shouting at your Ford Fiesta, but at least your eyes are on the road.
Ford is also continuing to develop SYNC with Microsoft, and will push out updates that can be uploaded to the car via any standard USB flash drive. The next update, which should roll out soon, will enable control of a selected number of third-party apps on both iOS and Android, meaning not just the stock music player will respond to voice commands.
2. Emergency Assist
Ford's taken the traditionally expensive emergency services automatic calling feature from the likes of OnStar in the US, and thrown it into the mass market on the Fiesta. Emergency Assist uses your own phone as the line out instead of charging you a monthly line rental just for your car's emergency system.
If you end up in a crash, the car will phone the Europe-wide emergency services number, 112, and give the operator your exact location from the GPS. Not only that, but it speaks 11 languages and will deliver the message in the appropriate language for whichever country you happen to be in. It will then provide hands-free calling, connecting you directly to the operator.
Ford has positioned the SYNC system in the car to survive a crash, and has conducted crash testing with phones in the cabin. Apparently, the phones survive perfectly fine to make that potentially life-saving call.
The SYNC system will also connect with up to five different phones over Bluetooth, with one handset defined as the master. If the primary phone fails to carry out the emergency call, the system will try all the others until one of them connects to the phone network. It's a good way of getting around the expensive monthly subscription fees other systems have, due to their traditionally integrated cellular network connectivity.
Have you got kids who always want to borrow your car? Do you worry about them out on the road, burning rubber and blaring music through the neighbourhood? Ford's got the solution. MyKey enables you to set up a custom driving profile bound to a subset of the individual keys.
For instance, your kid's key can be set up to electronically limit the maximum speed of the car, or to mute the radio until all the seat belts have been securely fastened. Likewise, you can enable or disable various in-car alerts, such as speed thresholds, fuel warnings, and seat belt monitors.
Essentially, it means you can tune your car to be much safer for the kids, while not hampering your own driving experience. It's something you'd expect to find in a much more expensive car, not a supermini Ford Fiesta.
4. Keyless entry
Coupled with MyKey, Ford's provided the new Fiesta with keyless entry. It means the car has one of those nifty start-stop buttons, which you often associate with more premium cars.
Up to eight keys can be associated with one car at any one time, enabling you to each have a key, with any number of them being governed by MyKey. When more than one key is within the vehicle, including MyKeys, then the administrator key takes dominance, removing all the possible limitations set by the MyKey system.
Ford's new eco-boost engine, which first appeared in the 2012 Focus, boasts the power of a 1.6L engine with the fuel economy of a much smaller 1L engine. Ford managed this impressive feat with a series of engine add-ons.
First up is the turbo, which ups the power of the small engine without drastically increasing fuel consumption. That's coupled with direct injection and independent variable valve timing, providing you with decent low-range torque from about 1400rpm up to 5000rpm out of just a three-cylinder engine.
The traditional three-cylinder engine vibration has also been removed, through counter balancing and engine-mount dampening, meaning that any shaking is neutralised, leaving a very sporty, aggressive-sounding engine note. Thankfully, it's not all bark and no bite either, since the 1L eco-boost is surprisingly sprightly, with good pulling power, as long as you're in the right gear.
Ford's put long gears in the eco-boost to help with fuel economy, which means you've generally got to be in a lower gear than you normally would in other cars to get the power down. A decent compromise, given the impressive low-range torque of the eco-boost engine.
6. Auto start-stop
Further helping to reduce city driving fuel consumption, the Ford Fiesta comes with automatic stop-start technology, which turns the engine off when you're idle at traffic lights or stuck in a queue of traffic, starting it again when you put your foot on the gas.
It's becoming an increasingly common feature in the medium-sized car category and up, and it's nice to see Ford putting it in a supermini like the Fiesta. It should help cut fuel wastage, and therefore dampen the hurt to your wallet at the filling station.
7. Eco-mode driving gamification
To help you make the most of the new Fiesta's eco credentials, Ford's included eco-driving modes, essentially coaching you to be a more fuel-efficient driver from the 5-inch in-dash display.
It rates your driving skill under three different categories: driving speed; gear-change revs, and anticipation, which essentially measures your ability to avoid braking, by predicting traffic flow ahead of you.
The Fiesta uses a range of petals around a daisy-like flower icon to show your proficiency in each of the three categories, rewarding you with a little trophy icon when you've filled the gauges. This 'game' is a gimmick, but it makes the drag of eco-friendly driving a little more exciting, and could train you to be a better, more economy-focused driver in the process.
8. Smart regenerative charging
The new Ford Fiesta also comes equipped with what Ford is calling "smart regenerative charging". Before you go thinking that means the Fiesta is some sort of hybrid or electric car, think again. Instead, it's an intelligent system of control for charging the car's battery.
Previously, the alternator was permanently hooked up to the engine when running. Here the Fiesta only engages the alternator when you're coasting, slowing down, or idling, which reduces wear and tear on the engine and other components in the system.
Hopefully that should mean your battery is always charged for powering all the latest car tech, while lasting longer and needing less servicing.
Ford has brought something associated with much higher-range cars to the supermini. Auto-city-stop scans the road 15m ahead 50 times per second, using light and range-detection sensors to spot possible collisions with cars.
If it works out that you're not going to react to a stationary, or slowing car, the Fiesta will slam on the brakes, flash your hazard lights, and disconnect the engine.
It should prevent collisions at up to 15kph (10mph), stopping the car roughly 30 centimetres from the object in question, and aims to significantly reduce the impact velocity of accidents at up to 30kph (19mph).
Unfortunately, above that speed the system won't help you, because it's camera-based and not radar-based like more sophisticated systems found on some Volvos and other cars. But it should still help those not paying enough attention in stop-start traffic.
10. Hill launch assist
Not everyone's skilled when it comes to hill starts. Finding the biting point of the clutch, the right amount of revs, and using the hand brake at the same time can be quite taxing.
Ford's decided to try to make your hill-climbing life a little easier with hill launch assist, which automatically applies the brakes with enough force to prevent the car from rolling backwards or forwards.
Once you apply enough force from the engine to support the weight of the car, the brakes automatically disengage, whether you're in first gear or reverse. It basically turns a manual car into an automatic, holding your position on any sort of uphill gradient.
In the end, the new Ford Fiesta packs more tech that you'd normally associate with larger, more premium cars than ever before, and into a neat and tidy little package. The small car has finally grown up.