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Ford springs Fiesta at European gala

Fiesta time: Ford’s long-awaited new-generation Fiesta has been revealed in Europe, but there is no word yet on its Australian debut.

Australia has to wait for latest Ford Fiesta previewed in European guise in Germany

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Ford logo30 Nov 2016

FORD’S seventh-generation Fiesta made its entrance in front of 2500 dealers, employees and journalists at a special event in Ford of Europe’s Cologne plant in Germany last night ahead of the 2017 model’s roll out next year on the light hatchback’s 40th anniversary.

Shown in four five-door variants, including a crossover dubbed Fiesta Active, the replacement for the ageing current model gets an evolutionary styling update that could be mistaken for a facelift.

Originally launched in 2008 and last updated in Australia more than three years ago, the Fiesta shown last night is said to be the European version that will also do duty in the Middle East and Africa.

Ford Australia is tight-lipped about replacement plans for Fiesta in Australia, apart from confirming that all Fiesta variants except the sporty European-built ST for this market will continue to come from Ford’s Rayong plant in Thailand.

This means that Australia is likely to share the American version of the Fiesta that, this time around, is set to be sourced from Thailand instead of Mexico.

The Thai-built car is unlikely to be significantly different in style and substance from the one shown in Europe, but might not arrive on our shores for a year or more when the current model will be nine years old.

Logic suggests the “mother plant” in Europe will kick off Fiesta production in readiness for launch in the first half of next year, followed by Thailand at a later date.

Ford Australia and its dealer network will be desperate to get the new car as soon as possible as sales of the current model have fallen away dramatically, down almost 40 per cent this year alone.

Fiesta is now ranked a lowly 10th in the important light-car market segment led by the the Hyundai Accent and Mazda2.

Although Ford did not confirm powertrains for Fiesta in Cologne, it revealed that its 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine will get cylinder deactivation in an industry first.

The technology can disengage or re-engage one of the cylinders in 14 milliseconds, which Ford says is “20 times faster than the blink of an eye”.

The company says it has come up with advanced solutions to counteract vibration, and that the deactivation operation “will be imperceptible to drivers in terms of operation and engine performance”.

It is assumed this engine will make it into the Fiesta line-up, probably beside a 1.6-litre four-cylinder in the ST.

The four Fiesta variants shown in Cologne were the flagship luxury Vignale, sporty ST-Line, Titanium and Active crossover.

The latter is a high-riding soft-roader version of Fiesta, complete with black plastic wheel arch extensions and roof rails, among other things.

The ST-Line is a ST look-alike, but lacking the feisty mechanicals. A full ST is in the pipeline, but no launch date has been suggested.

Changes to the interior include a floating eight-inch high-definition touchscreen and Ford’s latest SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system.

Upmarket Fiesta buyers can also tick the box for a premium Bang and Olufsen sound system.

Ford promises the expanded Fiesta range will offer more personalisation options, following the trend set by European manufacturers such as Audi and Mini.

Ford of Europe president Jim Farley told the Cologne event that Ford had over-delivered on promises made at a similar event four years ago.

“We have delivered an all-new SUV line-up, set the performance car segment alight with our Focus RS and Ford Mustang, strengthened the backbone of our business with our award-winning commercial vehicle range and re-written the rulebook on compact engines with our 1.0-litre EcoBoost – and that’s before we get to the next generation Fiesta,” he said.

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