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First Drive

First Drive: Ford Fiesta MHEV

The story: Ford brings low-key electrification to its Fiesta range, with a 48-volt mild hybrid system offering a 5% efficiency improvement.
Key rival:Vauxhall Corsa
On sale:Now

Ford has added a 48-volt mild hybrid system to its biggest selling model in Europe, with the Fiesta, offering efficiency benefits bundled in with an update to the car’s technology.

The mild-hybrid system is claimed to offer a 5% efficiency boost via its Belt-Driven Integrated Starter/generator. This replaces the regular alternator and recovers energy otherwise lost under deceleration to recharge the 48-volt battery, which then offers increased performance for the same fuel use, or supplements the petrol engine to offer the same performance for less fuel.

The system allows the car to coast with the engine off below 15mph when slowing.First Drive- December 2020- Ford Fiesta MHEV- Image 1

The tech’s input is almost imperceptible from behind the wheel, save a graphic on the dashboard that shows when the car is harvesting energy under deceleration. It’s a useful small aid to efficiency, even if trying to describe it as electrification is something of a stretch compared with proper hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric powertrains.

The mild hybrid system is already offered on the Puma small crossover and is also heading for the Focus. It’s available with either 125hp or 155hp and can be specified on all eight regular Fiesta trim levels. It becomes part of a five-engine petrol-only line-up alongside the non-mild-hybrid 125hp that’s now only available as an automatic, plus the entry 75hp and 95hp engines. The diesel has been dropped from the range.

Other updates include an improvement to the Sync3 infotainment system, access to the FordPass Connect app for vehicle information, automatic stop and go for the automatic gearbox fitted with adaptive cruise control on the top-spec Vignale Edition and optional on others, and a wireless charging pad offered on higher-spec models.

paul barker

The verdict

The Fiesta remains a good-looking and fine-handling car, and the mild hybrid has a small efficiency merit, but isn’t a significant or notable upgrade from behind the wheel.