Call me biased, but I think Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world because of its culture, heritage, and scenery. As someone who really likes driving and exploring, I feel like I am spoiled for choice here and if money and time weren’t an object, I would happily cruise around Scotland for years to come and still find new and exciting places.
With this in mind, one can’t help but ask themselves the question: what is the best car to cruise around the beautiful roads that this country has to offer? Is it one of the big three supercars: Lamborghini Huracan, Ferrari 488 or McLaren 720s? Is it the absolute “Beast of the Green Hell”, the Mercedes AMG or the precision instrument that the Porche GT3RS is?
Simply put, the answer is none of those. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely brilliant machines, each with their own characteristics to lure you in to the brand: the Huracan offers the glorious sound of the V10, the Ferrari gives you all the fizz and tingling sensations driving has to offer, the GT3RS will scream to 9000RPM as the PDK gearbox changes gears for you at the speed of light, the AMG will roar and thunder as it consumes miles and eats little cars and the 720S will wipe the floor with all of them when it comes to top end power! But, unless you are one of the few people that are blessed to be able to enjoy such motors, the best car to go for a drive in and explore this wonderful country is the car YOU have!
Enter Chilli, my aptly named MK7.5 Ford Fiesta 1.0 80PS (the one without the turbo – sigh). Following a devastatingly short relationship with my first ever UK car (a story for another time), I became the proud owner of my Fiesta. She smelled like cherries and was so clean I felt like taking my shoes off before stepping in and taking it for a test drive. I had never driven a 3 cylinder car and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she fired up and the sound the engine made. It was love at first sight!
Setting off on the test drive I noticed how eager the car was to accelerate, how quickly the heater started blowing hot air in the cabin and how nicely rev-match downshifting felt and sounded. Mind you, I was coming from a really old car, which although similarly powered, was an absolute dog. A couple of John Hancocks later and I was Chilli’s proud owner.
Because I fell in love with her immediately and was so desperate to get a nicer car, I failed to see that there was one major flaw with the car – and, although I take full responsibility for my decisions, I can’t help but feel that the dealership “click-baited” me. You see, they advertised it as a Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost, despite the fact that that model designation was only for the 100, 125 and 140PS engines, not the 65 or 80PS ones. I only found out I had a less powerful model when I received my registration documents.
I could have taken her back but for some reason, it did not feel right. I named her Chilli because she was red hot and spiced up my drive. Chilli was MY car now and although I knew she wasn’t the most powerful, she felt quick enough for me. I decided to keep her and she has been with me for the past 2.5 years. We have seen a whole bunch of the United Kingdom together and she has now become the image of this blog.
I thought that because she wasn’t one of her faster versions, I might not enjoy her to the fullest and always have it in the back of my head that there would always be a better one out there. But then I thought a bit more and realised that the same could be said about almost any car on the planet. Plus, with the exception of sheer power, everything else about Chilli is absolutely top notch!
I won’t go into a laundry list of specs like most car reviews out there. Instead, I am going to focus on the experience of having the car and what it has been like to own for the past 2.5 years and almost 40000 miles.
I have driven a variety of cars in my life, varying from supercars to pickup trucks. The best thing, in my opinion, about the MK7.5 Fiesta, is its size. It is one of the smallest cars you can buy and if you’re like me and live in a busy city, with tiny streets and tiny parking spaces, you will appreciate how easy it is to park almost anywhere, how easily you can fit between moving cars on the road and getting around slower moving vehicles and other obstacles.
Now you may be thinking that, because it’s a small car, it won’t be so good at higher speeds on open roads. To a certain degree, under very specific conditions, it probably isn’t the best tool for the job. But for 90% of the time, for what it is, it comes really close to being a jack of all trades. It will sit at 70mph all day if you want it to (this is the UK motorway speed limit) and if you want to go faster, it will do it, just don’t expect the same level of refinement you get from much bigger and more powerful cars, specifically made to demolish motorway miles. In spite of its small size, it settles really well on the road at higher speeds, it feels really solid and deals with road imperfections really well.
When it first came out and throughout its life cycle, the MK7.5 Fiesta received rave reviews about how it was leading its class in terms of handling. They were all true!
To this day, the only car that I got to experience that felt better connected to the road in my hands was a Porche 911 Turbo (997.2 generation). I am not a highly regarded automotive personality, but I love driving cars, I understand the principles of car control and having been driving for more than 8 years now, I am well in tune with the finest particularities of car handling. Now that is saying something about the Fiesta!
There are a few flaws with the car (like with any car) but I think Ford did an amazing job with this car’s steering and chassis. Being electrically assisted, the steering wheel becomes nice and light to move around at low speeds or when parking and when you are up to speed, it firms up but not in an artificial way. Up to 70mph, there is literally no dead play off centre in the steering wheel, however, this does start to become apparent at higher speeds (this might be due to the tyres I am using, although I am not 100% certain). It is blistering quick to respond to inputs and makes switching lanes or fast cornering an absolute pleasure.
The most fascinating thing I find about the steering and chassis of this car is how I can feel every change in road conditions through my fingertips and bottom. I feel like my hands are literally connected to the front wheels and how my bum and back know exactly what the rear wheels are doing. It feels like there is an almost telepathic connection between car and driver! This means that there is SO MUCH FUN to be had in this car on any type of road conditions: dry, wet or snow.
Depending on what tyres you have, the Fiesta corners and handles with so much poise and fidelity to your inputs that you can’t help yourself but have a huge grin on your face on tight twisty roads where you can keep up with more powerful cars. The most fun to be had, in my opinion, is in the snow. Give it a good set of winter tyres and you will be handbrake turning into every corner looking like an absolute hero (or chav) without ever feeling you are losing control!
Hol’ up! Didn’t I moan about how underpowered the car is compared to its turbo family members? I did, and yes, it is underpowered. But power alone is not the only thing you should judge an engine by.
This engine, with the turbo (1.0 Ecoboost) has won Engine of the Year multiple times and for good reason. Take the turbo (and all of the other ancillaries associated with it) off and you are left with a much cleaner engine bay, a lot more room to work with if you need to and a lot fewer things that could go wrong with it. To make it even sweeter, this naturally aspirated (NA) version has a higher compression ratio (12:1) compared to the turbo version (10:1) and it means it gets even better if you use higher octane fuel.
Being NA, it has a perfectly linear power curve and it means that the more you press on the accelerator, the more power you are rewarded with. Another advantage over the turbo version is the pedal response. With the turbo, there will be a second or two of lag between you asking for power and the car delivering it, as the turbo has to spool up. This translates (and you will be surprised) in amazing overtaking capabilities.
Surely a more powerful car like the 1.0 turbo will be better at overtaking than its NA counterpart, you may say. True, but the difference is marginal, and where the NA version shines is in pedal response and linear power delivery. This means that when you need to overtake and you are all set (good window of opportunity and the correct gear) the car will instantly respond! Overtaking in the Fiesta 1.0 80PS is not the easiest but it’s fun and when done right, it’s super rewarding. It makes you think about your moves, it makes you anticipate traffic more, it makes you a BETTER driver.
I am not saying that if you drive a faster car (turbo or NA) you are a bad driver. What I am trying to say is it will humble you and it will involve you with driving in a way that will always bring a smile (sometimes even tears of joy) to your face. You will 100% know when an overtake is on or not and you will become a better, safer driver because of it.
I spend most of my time in town, during rush hour commute. I do employ a variety of fuel saving techniques, but in my mind, everyone should be trying these: coasting in gear, anticipatic traffic, finding a less busy route etc. During the weekend, when we go for a drive, I drive spiritedly, with plenty of overtakes and hard driving. Bearing this in mind, my fuel economy so far, over the past 6000 miles (I’ve been tracking with an ap since May) has been 52MPG, or 5.4 l/100Km. That is astounding! I don’t think there is another internal combustion car out there, that after thousands of hard miles, can return such impressive fuel economy! I love it!
Although an amazing package, there are a few niggles I personally find irritating about my Fiesta. As mentioned, the power can be a bit of an issue sometimes. In most daily situations however, being in the correct gear and anticipating traffic will negate the driver needing more power than the car offers.
Another flaw with this car, unfortunately, has to be Ford’s quality control. As it is getting on now, the car tends to develop certain rattles (to be fair the roads in Glasgow are attrocios) but, thankfully, they all go away at higher speeds. Another problem is the clear coat which has started to peel off already on the rear bumper. It is a high impact area but this shouldn’t be happening on a well maintained (I hand wash the car with the two bucket method religiously), relatively modern car.
These tiny problems don’t matter that much to me. We, humans, tend to focus more on the negatives, even if they are smaller and fewer than the positives. I try my best to not do that and, man, I love this car! We’ve been together through a lot and there will be plenty of more adventures to come (possibly even a trip to the old Continent!). There will be a point where we will part ways but that’s not going to be any time soon. And when we do, I will be sad but will be happy to see another person enjoy it just as much as I will have done. Until then, my friend, there are thousands of miles for us to explore!
I hope you enjoyed my little insight on what it is like to own the MK7.5 Fiesta 1.0 80PS. What is your current/favourite car and what would you go for a cruise in? Leave your comments down below or on any of the social medias!