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.....This lively performance is matched by fuel economy which is slightly better than average, as is witnessed by our overall consumption of 29.4 mpg, which reflects our usual hard driving. Many owners should be able to match or even better our computed touring consumption figure of 36.7 mpg, which on a full 7.5-gallon tank of four-star fuel allows a practical range of about 240 miles; it is unwise to travel further than that, as surge during reasonably hard cornering can lead to fuel starvation when the tank gets down to its reserve level. Though the filler is set rather low in the body, topping up is rapid, with little sign of blow-back, and just enough warning before the fuel reaches the brim.
The Fiesta's gearchange, though by no means poor, has never been its greatest asset, and little improvement is apparent in this latest example. The clutch takes a little practice (at first it seems over-sharp), but it is in fact satisfactorily progressive; while the lever action may be relatively fast, there is overall an unpleasantly rubbery feel to gear selection (especially when changing from second to third), while first and reverse are sometimes obstructive from rest. The ratios, identical to those of the 1300S, are well matched to the engine, giving maxima of 28, 49 and 74 mph in the intermediates, and 17.4 mph/1,000 rpm in the overdrive top gear. This means that at 90 mph, the engine is turning over slightly less than 5,200 rpm, at which speed on a light throttle it feels surprisingly relaxed and quiet - a major improvement over previous Fiestas we have tried.
The handling of the GL is much the same as that of all other Fiestas we have driven: despite limited feel through the steering, its cornering power is excellent. Because of this lack of response through the steering, particularly noticeable in the straight-ahead position, it takes a while to be able to exploit the car's potential to the full. In bends, there is exceptional roadholding, very little roll, and only mild understeer. At higher speeds, in fact, the handling becomes neutral, while there is no more than a modest reaction to closing the throttle halfway through a corner. There seems to be less tendency than before for the car to bounce about on uneven surfaces, though in this respect (as in steering precision) it is still no match for VW's Polo.
In normal driving, the Fiesta's brakes (discs at the front, drums at the rear, assisted by servo and with a diagonally-split twin-circuit system), perform admirably, with a good combination of power and progression; the only fault we can report was a small amount of judder during really firm applications.
Provision of adequate passenger space in such a small car is difficult, but Ford have managed better than most with the Fiesta, which can carry four adults in reasonable comfort, with sufficient legroom and plenty of headroom. Luggage space is still fairly good, and can be increased by folding the rear bench seat, but could be greater still if Ford followed the example of other manufacturers by placing the spare wheel under the bonnet. Provision of internal stowage space is excellent, with a clever combination of a.....
Middle - Above: the seats are comfortable, but perhaps too springy. Legroom and headroom is better than average. The head restraints are standard Left: in the rear, too. two adults can sit in reasonable comfort. Right: the "boot" of the Fiesta is larger than those of many small cars, but could be even larger if the spare wheel were placed under the bonnet.