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Basic information of my car:
2013 Ford Fiesta Sport 1.5, 6-speed PowerShift dual clutch, face lifted version.
Reasons why I bought this car
The car hunting effort started when the missus decided that she wanted a better car than her existing car. She was driving a Perodua Myvi, and wanted something safer and more premium. Primary considerations are that the car must have top notch safety system.
Secondary consideration is it has to be a more premium car, relatively, when compared with Perodua or Proton. It must also not be too big, as the primary location of the car is in congested city (and poor parking skills unfortunately).
Car selection process
- I had a budget of: With a Myvi available to be traded in, as well as the financial ability when pushed to the max, it was decided that going anything over 100k is unwise. Something around 80k would be possible.
- Models that I have considered include:
With a budget of under 100k, the usual suspects would be your average B segment cars. Since the purpose is to get a foreign car, the usual suspects are on the table: Toyota Vios, Honda City, Honda Jazz, Kia Rio, Nissan Almera.
The missus shuns Korean products for some reason, except skin care products. No Korean food, no K-drama/K-pop for her. Naturally no Korean cars. Nissan’s design doesn’t tickle her fancy. Toyota Vios was very outdated back then, and Honda cars were doing so well that the sales representatives were being an... er, donkey.
- Reasons why I chose this car:
In 2013, stability control is the new technology that has started to trickle down into segment of cars that regular people can afford. Fiesta was the only car under 100k ringgit that actually have the technology.
The car looks like a mini-Aston Martin, and the Dual Clutch gearbox is a new toy. Although we knew dual clutch gearbox was getting bad reps, thanks to Volkswagen’s DSG, we also read that Ford’s Powershift doesn’t suffers the same fate, albeit it’s slower, and still has its own issues.
The Ford’s salesman has been very friendly to push sales, and the missus likes how the car drives, so that seals the deal.
The car does not get a lot of mileage, and in the 8 years of ownership, it sees just under 100,000 KM of travel. One may point the finger on the pandemic, but it is mainly driven in the city for the first five years of its life, with only weekends going on longer drives back to hometown. The car averages around 15KM/L, making it about average with other 1.5L B segment cars of the same era.
The Fiesta was the first non-Japanese or Japanese-related car in the family, therefore there has been a lot of re-learning as we have to throw out some assumption. One example would be the radiator reservoir, where in a Japanese car you’re expected to top up once in a while to make sure it doesn’t run dry, but in the Fiesta it’s actually air tight, and the coolant has only been changed once in the 8 years of ownership.
- It also drives like a much bigger car. The suspension is stiff but well dampened. You get a sense that it’s design to be fun, and not really for comfort. The first observation that we notice is that it’s extremely easy to find your car in a shopping mall’s parking lot. While not unique, it was relatively rare to find a Fiesta.
As for the physical size, it is best described as a B segment car, that drives like a C segment car (using a civic as benchmark), and has an interior space of an A segment car (using a Viva as benchmark). More on this later.
Pros of my car:
If I were to mention only one good thing about the car, it is the handling. As a car person, it’s easy to dismiss a front wheel drive car as not as fun to drive. Sure, you have very powerful front wheel drive cars out in the market, but when talking about balance, car enthusiast always sticks to rear-wheel-drive cars for the balance. Not the Fiesta. This thing corners better than any rear-wheel-drive cars I've driven. It just sticks to the ground and go around the corner like a roller-coaster. It only felt front-heavy when you try to change direction too fast, or maybe that’s just me getting dizzy.
- Another good thing is the seats. With cornering ability like this, the Fiesta came with a very supportive seat. It hugs you tightly, allowing you to turn around the corner without having to hang on for dear life.
- We can shout “save the manuals” all day, but truth is that dual clutch gearbox shifts quick enough, albeit sometime unpredictably. The “S” mode in the Fiesta works like a charm, it upshifts at much higher RPM, hold onto a gear when you lift off the throttle, and sometime even blip the throttle and downshift when you step on the brakes, keeping the engine in a more powerful torque band.
- Going inside the cabin, another surprising thing is the audio system. It looks normal, nothing out of the ordinary, but when you turn it on the audio quality outclass most Japanese car in the same price range. The door is solid, and the 6 speakers (2 tweeters) in the door does not rattle the panels at all. The bass is boomy, and the trebles are crisp. Perhaps not on an audiophile level, but for regular folks, it’s as good as you need a car audio to be.
- The rear seats can be folded down for more cargo space. Biggest item ever fit inside is a 2.2-meter-long furniture from Ikea. If you get creative, you could actually fit a lot of items in the car. I knew years of Tetris experience has some kind of benefit in life.
- One surprising good thing about the car that I never thought I'd say, is actually the heater. People may think I have gone mad praising the heater in the car, but once you get caught in the rain, and struggle between freezing cold and the need to prevent the car from fogging up, you’d appreciate the heater in the car. You can set the car’s air conditioner to 28c, and once the car decide it’s too cold, it’ll start blowing hot air at your feet automatically, warming you up. The hot air is also dry, dehumidified, so no issue with getting stuffy and humid in the car.
Cons of my car:
The car is not without faults. For starters, the rear seats gave an impression that the car was designed to be a 3-door hatchback in the first place. The front seats are fine, but the rear bench is really designed for children, or everyone in the car are no taller than 5 foot 6. If a 6-foot driver adjust the seat to a comfortable position, then the 6-foot rear passenger would have his knee touching the front seat. Two people sitting at the back is okay, a third person in the middle would have no place to put their feet, as the footwell has been taken up by both the left and right rear passengers.
The front seats are supportive and sporty, although it’s not really on the comfortable side. You will want to get out of the car to stretch every hour or so if you’re driving long distance.
- Next up is the dual clutch gearbox. It works well in the first year of ownership, no weird sound coming out from the gearbox, and no weird behaviour. Things started to go wrong in the second year, where the clutch appears to be slipping, and there’s moderate to severe shuddering between 1500rpm and 2000rpm, which is about most of the time if you’re in a stop-go traffic. Sometime the gearbox software appears to be smarter than other days and suddenly decide to keep the engine revving above 2k rpm, removing all trace of gearbox issue, but most of the time it likes to stay in the troublesome range.
Driving past 40km/h and gearbox is as smooth as you want it to be, but not everyone get to always go fast. The gearbox also shows no issue if the weather is cool, under 30c, so it’s buttery smooth during rainy days. Going up Cameron Highlands also shows no issue.
- Lastly, the final cons are generally lack of parts, or specifically, aftermarket parts. The 195/50r16 tires are unique to this car for the first few years. It came with Continentals, and special ordering of that size is needed. The issue was largely obsolete after Vios started to use the same sized tire, and tire shop start to stock up on different brands. Same goes for the wiper blades, they are non-standard and you won’t be able to pick a set up from your favourite hardware store/supermarket. Ordering online is your best bet, albeit still cost 3 times more than the generic J-Hook blades, or pay over RM200 at Ford to get an original pair.
Total Score: 3.5
Quality & Features: 4
Ride Comfort: 3
Fuel Economy: 3
Price & Cost: 3
The car has many merits, but it’s also filled with flaws. It’s temperamental, always giving you that “okay, what now?” moments. It’s not a machine for people who just want a fuss-free A to B commuter, using that approach, this isn’t a very reliable car. But if you are a car person and you are looking for a “partner” more than a “tool”, the Fiesta will keep you company through up and downs, creating memories both good and bad. The Fiesta is akin to a human being, if you try to imagine hard enough, you can almost feel like it can laugh, it can cry, it can throw a tantrum and it can break your heart. It’s not too far-fetched to call the Fiesta a car with a soul.
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