It doesn’t have go-faster stripes and the spotty, fake Burberry-capped denizens of McDonald’s car parks across the land will not lust after it like they do its more garish cousin, but the 1.6 TDCi Fiesta Zetec S is not something to turn a studded nose up at.
In fact, it could prove a useful performer for fleets, given the right set of conditions.
Basically, the Zetec S sits under the ST as a ‘warm hatch’ with a 1.6-litre diesel common rail injection engine, capable of producing 89bhp and 150lb-ft of torque, which results in a 0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
The problem the TDCi version will encounter, though, is that rarely do diesels make a lot of sense in superminis. These cars don’t often do high mileages and, with the extra premium of diesel models and the slightly higher pump price of diesel, the sums often add up in favour of petrol.
So what sort of company driver should be looking at this car? They will have to be doing about 12,000 miles a year. They want a car that is very low in benefit-in-kind tax and fuel costs, don’t need much space for passengers or luggage but want a car that feels bigger than it is to drive, can handle long motorway trips, is good in town and is still decent fun when the mood takes.
The TDCi Zetec S is immediately handicapped by its £900 higher price than the petrol, at £12,495 on-the-road. A driver doing 12,000 miles a year would save about £400 a year in the diesel, so it’s not difficult to work out that it’s going to take about two-and-half years to make up the difference. After that, it’s all money in the pocket.
The other benefit for the TDCi is tax. The exhaust sneezes out only 119g/km of CO2 and is Euro IV compliant, which means it will sit in the 15% tax bracket for the foreseeable future. For a 22% taxpayer, that’s a paltry £34 a month. Add that to the 12,000-mile fuel bill and that’s about £3 a day to run.
However, on the downside, the TDCi loses more value than its 1.6-litre petrol equivalent. CAP predicts it at 29%/£3,625 after three years/60,000 miles, while the petrol version is forecast at 31%/£3,575 – only £50 less at resale despite its £900 cheaper front end price.
What the Zetec S also in its favour is that Ford has recalibrated the suspension, so that as a drive, it sits below the ST in terms of sportiness but above the standard Fiesta, which is a good balance.
The Zetec S does not have too firm a ride and also doesn’t have the all-out, banzai grip of the ST, which actually makes it a lot of fun to drive, especially with the low-down punch of the diesel engine.
It also looks good sitting on low-profile tyres and 16-inch wheels, with a roof spoiler and deeper body bumpers, and makes a decently aggressive noise, as far as a diesel in a supermini can.
In fleet, the diesel Fiesta Zetec S is not going to be a big performer, but for a user-chooser who fits the profile, it would be a useful and enjoyable little car.
Ford Fiesta Fact File
Model: Zetec S 1.6 TDCi
Engine (cc): 1,560
Max power (bhp/rpm): 89/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 150/1,750
Max speed (mph): 112
0-62mph (sec): 11.2
Combined fuel consumption (mpg): 62.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 119
Transmission: 5-sp manual
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 43/9
Service interval (miles): 12,500
On sale: Now
Prices (OTR): £12,495