Black is a great word and colour, as it goes with virtually everything, like Johnny Walker Black, McGuigan’s Black Label, certain magazines….it can also highlight curves, angles, be featured in songs from The Rolling Stones, allows colour to stand out or absorb radar on a bomber. You’d be forgiven, then, for allowing to think that Ford would call the all black Fiesta, a limited edition run of just 250 units and making it an exceptionally rare car, something like…well, something with the word black in it. In another possible example of Ford’s marketing people not really seeming to understand, it’s been labelled the “Fiesta Metal”….
The bodystyle is a three door hatchback, harkening back to the days of the Festiva and the only three door in the Fiesta range. It’s almost devoid of anything bright, with the alloys painted black and sporting Ford blue centre caps whilst the nosecone features a brushed aluminuim grille outline and surrounds to the driving lights with an almost F1 style flap in the chin breaking up the obsidian sheetmetal. The front lamps are a wraparound halogen set. At the rear there’s chrome tips to the slightly rorty exhaust. The interior itself is a close copy, with alloy pedals, silver white stitching in the leather seats, red lighting for the centre dash display whilst the gear knob has an aluminuim insert. There’s a smattering of piano black look to offset the matte black seats and plastics. Oddly and somewhat unpleasingly is the lack of coherence between the sweep of the dash and the plastic trim on the doors. It’s almost as if two different designers worked on the two separate parts and forgot to compare notes before the overall cabin was signed off.
Under the bonnet is a 1.6L Duratec four potter, spinning out just 98kW (6700rpm) and 160 Newton metres (4250 rpm), up slightly from the standard engine, via a close ratio Getrag five speed manual. Although seemingly low in grunt, the hatch weights around the 1000kg mark, so power to weight works out pretty well at around 10kW per 100 kilos. Final drive ratio equals out to around 3500 rpm at freeway speeds, which leads to a slightly buzzy engine and a question as to why a six speed isn’t fitted and geared to around 2500….also doesn’t aid the 43 litre tank…The clutch, naturally, is light, with a smooth pickup while the engine is smooth enough to slightly over-rev when the clutch is dipped, lessening that gap between on and off. The shift itself is short, precise, with good weight to the spring, while the lever itself falls to hand naturally. It’s a reasonably responsive combination overall, with a drop back to fourth and sometimes third required for the climb into the Blue Mountains.
It’s a taut ride on the tarmac, with a fair measure of crash being transmitted through to the body via the 40 profile tyres and short travel sports suspension over Sydney’s notorious speed humps. It does allow quick response via the electrically assisted steering, with turn in at the barest touch, with the response perhaps a little too quick for Aussies used to a measure of understeer. It’s communicative, tactile and never devoid of feel. The rear follows the nose nicely into turns and doesn’t scrape into the weird gutter setup New South Wales has. On undulating roads, there’s the barest hint of float and rebound, again indicating a well tied down chassis.
The seats and tiller have something that’s purportedly dead cow, but had none of the leather feel to it; the driver and passenger seat did have a heater switch that was dead simple to use. On or off, with on showing a red stripe. Simplicity, the way simple things should be. Although, ostensibly, a five seater, the sheer physical size predicates four comfortably and those with very small calf muscles should apply, so as to not get their lower legs bitten off at the knee. Actual seat comfort was supportive, comfortable, with the leading edge of the cushion mid thigh. It faces a simple dash; speedo, tacho and fuel with a red backlight, whilst the centre dash looks messy but is quite easy to read and use, as is the aircon controls. Rain sensing wipers are a nice touch, but, there’s no rear camera, however…
The Fiesta Metal is a solid, decent, well chassised package but desperately needs a more compliant suspension. Sitting at around $23000 and up against the Swift, Polo, Yaris et al, it’s a good contender for the “cheaper” sports hatch buyer’s wallet. A rejig of the marketing, however, may get this hidden Metal into more garages.