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.....The one exception referred to concerns the amount of spray and dirt that gets "sucked" on to the rear window in mucky conditions. Drive a Fiesta at speed in such weather and your rearward view becomes obscured in seconds. We are amazed that a brand new model should have such a basic fault. It is without doubt why our test car was fitted with a (very effective) rear wash/wipe which costs an extra £46; it is an essential fitting.
The front wipers don't lift off at speed but are short; there's a noticeable unwiped area close to the roof and the wipers on our car left a larger-than-desirable wedge of dirt adjacent to the pillar. Two continuous speeds are provided as well as (unusual for this class) an intermittent wipe that gives one cycle every 10 seconds or so.
Ford offer two sun-roof options: one, a plastic panel the same colour as the rest of the car, for £90; and an ingenious safety glass roof, bronze-tinted and with a perforated silk screen print on its inside surface to reduce solar glare - but it's very expensive at nearly £114. The latter option was fitted to our test car and proved to be excellent in use, as you can either tilt the rear edge upwards (as with the Granada sun-roof) or, by releasing a safety catch, remove it altogether and stow it in the boot. In its closed position, its glass panel usefully lightened the car's interior.
Mounted high up and directly in front of the driver is a nacelle containing the instruments. Although these are not covered with a single sloping glass as is modern custom, the individual faces are angled and are substantially free of reflections. A speedometer (with trip recorder), a rev counter, water temperature and fuel gauges constitute the display, which is neat, pleasant to look at, well lit at night and easy to read.
Supplementing the instruments is a row of warning lights - clearly modelled on BMW's tell-tales - for 0i1 pressure, handbrake, indicators, main beam and low charge. A clock is sited in the centre console.
The heating controls could hardly be simpler; just two slides, one for distribution, the other for temperature, and a two speed fan switch. The heat output is adequate, even in freezing weather, but most of the temperature slide's useful working range is concentrated near the "hot" end, making temperature regulation difficult; you tend to get either very hot or tepid air.
We found the distribution slide unprogressive as well; it is difficult to get a large flow of air to your feet with just a trickle for demisting to the screen.
Throughput of air was exceptional at speed - perhaps even too much so. A proper volume control would have been welcome. At low road speeds the flow can be usefully boosted with the fan, which is inaudible except when operating on the higher of its two speeds......
Model: Fiesta S.
Maker: Ford Motor Company Ltd, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 3BW.
Tel: Brentwood 253000.
Price: £2,017.10 plus £168.09 car tax and £174.82 VAT equals £2,360.01.
Extras: head restraints, £34.19; rear wash/wipe, £45.77; and glass sunroof, £113.94.