RAC

Ford Fiesta S1600

Ford's S1600 offers a more affordable option to buyers wanting a hot hatchback but is it more affordable? Steve Walker reports.

Preview

Here's another Ford with the potential to make the average boy racer's eyeballs bulge. Unlike many of the road rocket hatchbacks to carry the blue oval badge recently, however, it shouldn't have the opposite effect on their bank balances. The Fiesta S1600 special edition has the look of a supercar slaying hot hatch but beneath the go faster stripes its approach is a little more circumspect.

Ten Second Review

The 118bhp Fiesta S1600 1.6 petrol is priced at a level where buyers could own a 198bhp Renaultsport Clio Cup or a 178bhp SEAT Ibiza Cupra and most hot hatch fans presented with that choice won't be heading to their Ford dealer. Striking looks and low running costs count in its favour as does the Fiesta's sparkling driving experience.

Background

The S1600 name is quite an evocative one for fast Ford fans. Not only will it have them going dewy-eyed at the memory of the classic Escort RS 1600 of 1970, it will also bring to mind a whole series of Fiesta and Puma based rally cars that have competed in the Super 1600 formula in recent years. The Fiesta S1600 isn't in the league of these performance heroes. It basically amounts to a standard Fiesta Zetec-S with far-reaching cosmetic modifications but Ford's supermini is great fun in all its guises and the S1600 might represent a viable option for those who'd dearly love a hot hatch but can't stomach the costs.

Driving Experience

The petrol engine responsible for the power supply in the Fiesta S1600 is a clever 1.6-litre variable valve timing unit called the 1.6 Ti-VCT. It manages without the assistance of a turbocharger despite its suggestive T-studded title. Peak power of 118bhp hits at 4,000rpm but there's quite a bit going on from around 2,500rpm helping make flexibility a strong suit. The engine responds sharply to tweaks of the throttle and should you give it everything, the 0-60mph sprint is over and done with in 9.9s. The diesel option is Ford's 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel, a solid unit but one that's not obviously suited to the fast hatch role. Its 0-60mph trip takes 11.9s. No S1600 will feel massively fast in a straight line but even a brief stint in it should be enough to dispel the idea that power is the major determiner of fun in a small hatch. Flowing down a twisty road on its sports suspension, the Fiesta works a treat. The variable power-assisted steering weights up with speed, instilling confidence, the car a model of poise and agility. It takes some quite boneheaded driving to unsettle it at which point, a sensible amount of wheel slippage is allowed before the stability control safety net is unfurled.

Design and Build

The basic Fiesta is a fine-looking supermini and the S1600 accentuates its sporty looks by attaching a body-styling kit of considerable venom. There's a special bumper and valance, low side skirts, a roof spoiler at the back and a diffuser cut into the rear. The white and blue colour schemes feature contrasting stripes on the roof, bonnet and down the flanks, with striking white alloy wheels as the finishing touch. The cabin gets full leather trim, alloy pedals, scuff plates and Motorsport floor mats. Living with a Fiesta S1600 is likely to call for fewer compromises than you'd imagine with a small sporty hatch. In profile, a striking wedge shape is revealed with the lower edge of the side windows lifting towards the rear as the roofline falls away. This doesn't bode well for the rear seat passengers in the three-door car but the Fiesta surprises with decent legroom and headroom that's manageable even for a six-footer. The windows are small and set high up, so light isn't abundant in the back but the shopping bags, coats and road atlases that owners will store there most of the time won't be overly worried. The front seats are the place to be and particularly the driver's one which has an unusually wide range of adjustment through which a great driving position can be obtained by almost anyone. The controls look futuristic but are remarkably easy to grasp with a sensible separation kept between the ventilation buttons and those that govern the entertainment system.

Market and Model

Ford's products are the envy of most mainstream manufacturers but they aren't the affordable option that they once were. A Fiesta S1600 is getting on for £17,000 and you'll pay more for the diesel engine. It's pricing that brings the car within range of hot hatches with the performance to back-up their looks such as the Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf, Renault's Clio Renaultsport Cup and the SEAT Ibiza Cupra. With 170bhp or more, such models may well hold a stronger appeal for the S1600's target market but their running costs will be higher. Only 650 versions of the S1600 special edition will be offered for sale and many buyers will take up the £1,650 option of a Montune performance upgrade which adds around 20bhp to the petrol car. If anything, this makes it look even pricier but at least equipment levels are generous. You get the usual air-conditioning, entertainment system and trip computer, plus the remote ignition and entry system, the quickclear heated windscreen and a perimeter alarm. Petrol models have 17" alloys but the diesels make do with 16" items.

Cost of Ownership

The up side of any perceived lack of power in the Fiesta S1600 is economy that will out-muscle the majority of sporty superminis. 47mpg is very good going for a model that serves up fun of this magnitude as are 134g/km emissions. Go for the diesel model and you can expect a remarkable 67mpg. This Mk 6 version of the Fiesta is actually 40kg lighter than the Mk 5 and that weight saving along with the advanced engine technology has a big positive impact on fuel consumption.

Summary

Ford has a great history when it comes to fast hatchbacks and it's looking to capitalise on that with the Fiesta S1600. Rather than the rip-snorting Fiesta model that many have been clamouring for, this is a more sedate option that has the look of something fresh off a rally stage, without the pace. The mix of styling aggression and manageable running costs that the S1600 offers might be right up the street of some buyers but hot hatch fans can acquire the genuine article for the same sort of money. The Fiesta is the standout driver's car in the supermini class and the sporty set-up of the S1600 special edition will make it a properly enjoyable car to own. Its problem comes from not having the power to back-up its exotic looks and the existence of numerous far quicker superminis costing the same or less. In isolation, it looks great, drives well and will be very affordable to run. In the context of the wider market, there are more exciting options out there for young buyers seeking a sporty hatchback.

Ford has a great history when it comes to fast hatchbacks and it's looking to capitalise on that with the Fiesta S1600. Rather than the rip-snorting Fiesta model that many have been clamouring for, this is a more sedate option that has the look of something fresh off a rally stage, without the pace. The mix of styling aggression and manageable running costs that the S1600 offers might be right up the street of some buyers but hot hatch fans can acquire the genuine article for the same sort of money. The Fiesta is the standout driver's car in the supermini class and the sporty set-up of the S1600 special edition will make it a properly enjoyable car to own. Its problem comes from not having the power to back-up its exotic looks and the existence of numerous far quicker superminis costing the same or less. In isolation, it looks great, drives well and will be very affordable to run. In the context of the wider market, there are more exciting options out there for young buyers seeking a sporty hatchback.

Ford has a great history when it comes to fast hatchbacks and it's looking to capitalise on that with the Fiesta S1600. Rather than the rip-snorting Fiesta model that many have been clamouring for, this is a more sedate option that has the look of something fresh off a rally stage, without the pace. The mix of styling aggression and manageable running costs that the S1600 offers might be right up the street of some buyers but hot hatch fans can acquire the genuine article for the same sort of money. The petrol engine responsible for the power supply in the Fiesta S1600 is a clever 1.6-litre variable valve timing unit called the 1.6 Ti-VCT. It manages without the assistance of a turbocharger despite its suggestive T-studded title. Peak power of 118bhp hits at 4,000rpm but there's quite a bit going on from around 2,500rpm helping make flexibility a strong suit. The engine responds sharply to tweaks of the throttle and should you give it everything, the 0-60mph sprint is over and done with in 9.9s. The diesel option is Ford's 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel, a solid unit but one that's not obviously suited to the fast hatch role. Its 0-60mph trip takes 11.9s. The basic Fiesta is a fine-looking supermini and the S1600 accentuates its sporty looks by attaching a body-styling kit of considerable venom. There's a special bumper and valance, low side skirts, a roof spoiler at the back and a diffuser cut into the rear. The which and blue colour schemes feature contrasting stripes on the roof, bonnet and down the flanks with striking white alloy wheels as the finishing touch. The cabin gets full leather trim, alloy pedals, scuff plates and Motorsport floor mats. The Fiesta is the standout driver's car in the supermini class and the sporty set-up of the S1600 special edition will make it a properly enjoyable car to own. Its problem comes from not having the power to back-up its exotic looks and the existence of numerous far quicker superminis costing the same or less.

Here's another Ford with the potential to make the average boy racer's eyeballs bulge. Unlike many of the road rocket hatchbacks to carry the blue oval badge recently, however, it shouldn't have the opposite effect on their bank balances. The Fiesta S1600 special edition has the look of a supercar slaying hot hatch but beneath the go faster stripes its approach is a little more circumspect. The Fiesta S1600 isn't in the league of these performance heroes. It basically amounts to a standard Fiesta Zetec-S with far-reaching cosmetic modifications but Ford's supermini is great fun in all its guises and the S1600 might represent a viable option for those who'd dearly love a hot hatch but can't stomach the costs. The petrol engine responsible for the power supply in the Fiesta S1600 is a clever 1.6-litre variable valve timing unit called the 1.6 Ti-VCT. It manages without the assistance of a turbocharger despite its suggestive T-studded title. Peak power of 118bhp hits at 4,000rpm but there's quite a bit going on from around 2,500rpm helping make flexibility a strong suit. The engine responds sharply to tweaks of the throttle and should you give it everything, the 0-60mph sprint is over and done with in 9.9s. The diesel option is Ford's 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel, a solid unit but one that's not obviously suited to the fast hatch role. Its 0-60mph trip takes 11.9s. The basic Fiesta is a fine-looking supermini and the S1600 accentuates its sporty looks by attaching a body-styling kit of considerable venom. There's a special bumper and valance, low side skirts, a roof spoiler at the back and a diffuser cut into the rear. The white and blue colour schemes feature contrasting stripes on the roof, bonnet and down the flanks, with striking white alloy wheels as the finishing touch. The cabin gets full leather trim, alloy pedals, scuff plates and Motorsport floor mats. Ford's products are the envy of most mainstream manufacturers but they aren't the affordable option that they once were. A Fiesta S1600 is getting on for £17,000 and you'll pay more for the diesel engine. It's pricing that brings the car within range of hot hatches with the performance to back-up their looks such as the Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf, Renault's Clio Renaultsport Cup and the SEAT Ibiza Cupra. With 170bhp or more, such models may well hold a stronger appeal for the S1600's target market but their running costs will be higher. Only 650 versions of the S1600 special edition will be offered for sale and many buyers will take up the £1,650 option of a Montune performance upgrade which adds around 20bhp to the petrol car. If anything, this makes it look even pricier but at least equipment levels are generous. Ford has a great history when it comes to fast hatchbacks and it's looking to capitalise on that with the Fiesta S1600. Rather than the rip-snorting Fiesta model that many have been clamouring for, this is a more sedate option that has the look of something fresh off a rally stage, without the pace. The mix of styling aggression and manageable running costs that the S1600 offers might be right up the street of some buyers but hot hatch fans can acquire the genuine article for the same sort of money.

Scores
Performance 8
Handling 10
Comfort 8
Space 7
Styling 9
Build 9
Value 6
Equipment 7
Economy 6
Depreciation 6
Insurance 8
Total 84
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