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Motor - Road Test: Fiesta 1100S (Sport)
"Star Road Test. Ford Fiesta S"
5th February 1977
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Road Test: Fiesta 1100S (Sport)




Thank you to Vinny (aka RacMan) for supplying this article.

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.....1117 cc) are obtained by variations in stroke.

Another important difference is the change to wedge type combustion chambers, this design promoting better cylinder filling and more complete burning of the charge than bowl-in-piston chambers.

Fuel is supplied by a single Ford carburetter (incorporating a sonic idle circuit). In its 1117 cc version the engine has a 9.0:1 compression ratio and develops 53 bhp (DIN) at 6000 rpm, and 59 Ib ft of torque at 3000 rpm.

£ound MIRA's banked circuit our Fiesta S averaged 86.4 mph, somewhat less than Ford's claim of 88.2 mph, though still about average for the class. Vauxhall's Chevette and Peugeot's 104 are only slightly quicker, for example, Datsun's Cherry FII Coupe about the same and VWs Golf L markedly slower. In acceleration the Fiesta S fared similarly, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in 15.0 sec, 1.3 sec slower than Ford claim, but close to the norm set by rivals.

On paper then, the Fiesta is not especially quick, but on the road it felt a good deal more nippy than these figures suggest. In only mildly favourable conditions - a long downhill straight, for instance - the Fiesta will exceed 90 mph with relative ease; but on any subsequent uphill stretches the speed will drop back to little more than 80 mph. Although the engine spins smoothly and reasonably freely to 6000 rpm (we found little point in revving further despite Ford's recommended maximum of 6600 rpm), it does so only accompanied by considerable induction roar and mechanical thrash, particularly above 4000 rpm. While we would hesitate to label this engine noise as obtrusive, it is certainly very noticeable. VWs Polo (admittedly a setter of standards on engine refinement) is much quieter. In addition, our car had a boom (again not loud enough to be annoying, but enough to spoil the otherwise peaceful high speed cruising) between 70 and 75 mph.

Adequate low speed torque allows the engine to pull cleanly and smoothly from below 1000 rpm in top gear (15 mph), though it does so without any great vigour, taking 13.2 sec from 20 to 40 mph and 12.9 sec from 30 to 50 mph.

Starting from cold (and much of our test was conducted in freezing weather) was instantaneous and the warm-up trouble free. The engine idled smoothly but not particularly quietly (a rattle that disappeared when the clutch was depressed developed during the test) and there was an occasional curious whistling sound from the carburetter, perhaps some vagary of the sonic idle system. Long left hand corners taken quickly revealed two shortcomings: a hesitation because of fuel starvation; and a drop in oil pressure from oil surge if the sump were any more than hah0 a pint below maximum.

ECONOMY

We averaged 30.7 mpg overall which was a little disappointing in view of the car's modest performance. Of course, this figure, as do all our overall fuel consumptions, reflects very hard driving with much motorway work. Most owners should be able to improve on this considerably, even approaching the 39.5 mpg touring consumption.

The 7.5 gallon tank is smaller than is desirable, for it allows a maximum of only 300 miles between fill-ups - when the car is driven very gently. We barely covered 200 miles on a tankful, especially as the fuel gauge was pessimistic.

TRANSMISSION

Ford are particularly proud of their transmission design, for it is simple, easy to service and has a number of interesting features. The gearbox is mounted in line with the engine across the car, and the drive is fed from the clutch to the main input shaft, then to a constant-mesh parallel output shaft and out to the differential mounted behind via helical spur gears. The solid driveshafts are of unequal length (but the longer has a harmonic damper to eliminate torsional vibrations) and have constant velocity joints at each end. The gear selectors are on a single rail within the box and the gearlever is mounted rigidly to the gearbox and acts directly through a single rod.

For the most part the gearchange is exemplary, for although the lever has long fore-and-aft movements, the gate is well defined. There is spring loading towards the three/four plane and to select reverse you push the lever downwards, across to the left and forward. The lever action is light, baulk-free and not at all notchy. During our test, however, the change from second to third deteriorated noticeably; instead of the previously delightful flick across the gate, a definite dogleg movement was required if the lever wasn't to baulk. We also noticed a tendency to crunch into second develop at the same time.

The change-up points on the speedometer of our car were obviously for the lower-powered Fiesta variants (which are also lower geared) for they corresponded to only 5500 rpm - 500 rpm less than the engine speed at which maximum power is produced. Ford provide a rev counter (but do not mark it with any red line) and their technical literature quotes 6600 rpm as the maximum engine speed. This seems a little optimistic for the engine power tails off noticeably above 6000 rpm, the change-up point we used for our acceleration runs. We'd rate 6300 rpm as the practical engine maximum which corresponds to 27, 48 and 73 mph in the intermediates.

Our car's clutch was spoilt by what appeared to be stiction in its operating cable. Smooth take-offs and changes were difficult with the sharp action that this produced. The clutch also has an unusually long travel - you have to press nearly four inches to disengage fully - though it is very light (20 Ib) to depress.

ACCOMMODATION

An overall length of between 11 ft 6 in and 12 ft seems to be fashionable for small family saloons and hatchbacks these days, and the Fiesta at 11 ft 8J in slots in about mid-way. Those inches have been used to good effect for the Fiesta offers a good deal of room inside.

Legroom in the front is more than adequate for drivers over 6 ft, and even with the front seats fully back there is sufficient room for a couple of adults - three at a squeeze - in the rear. Tall adults sitting in tandem may have to negotiate a compromised front-seat back-rest angle setting, but considering the class of car that's little hardship. Despite the rising waistline the view from the rear seat is good (even with the optional front seat head restraints fitted) and the car has a light, airy feel, heightened by the "deck-chair" upholstery fitted to the S as standard and the glass sun-roof with which our car was fitted for an extra £114.

The rear seat itself is comfortable, though some passengers complained of a lack of lumbar support, and it can be folded down to make the Fiesta into a mini estate. This is done by pulling upwards on two T-handles on the backrest which can then be pushed forward on to the cushion. The loading platform thus obtained is flat and the door aperture reaches down close to floor level so that there is only a very small lip over which objects have to be raised. The wheel arches and damper mounts make significant intrusions into the platform's width, however, and there is a large gap between the front of the platform and the back of the front seats, down which small objects can fall.

The normal boot is only modest in size (6.0 cu ft) but can be supplemented by a fairly large cavity beneath the wooden floor. We fitted two soft bags in here, amounting to 1.0 cu ft, but a custom-made suitcase would allow far better utilisation of this extra compartment. To hide boot contents from prying eyes there is a substantial rear shelf which can be removed and stowed away when tall objects are carried. It lifts up with the tailgate which is supported by two gas struts; annoy-mgly the tailgate can only be opened with a key, so that you have to switch the engine off every time you wish to gain access to the back.

Provision for the stowage of oddments is good, with a shelf atop the facia on the passenger's side, beneath which there is a covered (but not lockable) cubby, supplemented by a slot-shaped bin in the centre of the facia under the heater controls. The S version has a centre console incorporating a large bin as well as an under-facia shelf on the driver's side, and door pocket......


 


 
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