|Intro||Looks||Practicality / Spec||Engine / Performance|
|Driving / NVH||On track||Fiesta Zetec S Vs ST||Options / Verdict|
The previous Mk7 Zetec S always possessed the right ride / handling balance and the Mk7.5 facelift manages to retain that. Suspension settings remain the same as before for Zetec S models: 10mm lower ride height than standard, 12% stiffer springs up front, 6% stiffer springs at the rear, an 11% stiffer torsion beam and a weightier steering setup.
Matched with quick and responsive steering, the Zetec S feels flat, light and agile through the corners. There’s still that front-bias level of grip accompanied with a rear that’s willing to be playful. The ride is marginally firmer than the standard models, but remains compliant enough to avoid feeling as over-damped as its ST sibling.
I must admit (and coming from a Defender more than likely exacerbates this sensation), I don’t remember a Zetec S feeling as stiff or as eager as this one – is it the lighter nose helping out perhaps? I’ve yet to put my finger on it, but it could just be a nice perception on how good the chassis really is after spending time away from one.
The brakes are typically good, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on having drums again after the ST. I very much prefer the 205/40-section Continental SportContact tyres fitted now too. The Bridgestone Potenza’s you used to get on the 17″ option with the MK7 Zetec S felt like a harder compound and scrabbled for traction.
Pedals are all sharp and light, (it’s so good to heel and toe again!), and the biting point from the clutch is lower than anything I’ve ever experienced from a petrol; it’s really low, and you barely have to lift a few inches for the car to creep.
The gearbox feels particularly good – not as heavily sprung as the ST but altogether very positive and slots into the gate more easily than the Mk7’s.
I did used to find the gearlever too tall, but that perception’s gone now after stirring the broomstick of a Defender’s.
Stop / Start is standard and works well; you can sense a minor amount of vibration at idle and startup through the seats and doors, but it isn’t bad at all in general. Only having been in the electric, vibration-free BMW i3 did I start to suspect this 3-cylinder engine’s potential for transmitting more vibrations than normal!
Fire up the Ecoboost and all you’ll hear is a distant high-pitch whirr from the tiny starter motor. I’m sure this engine is neigh-on silent in a Focus, but it’s plenty quiet in here. Open the window to hear more of it and it starts to clatter a bit more, but unlike the other 3-cylinder units found in the class below (think Aygo / C1 / 107 trio), this avoids sounding typically weedy or hollow in comparison.
There’s a little turbo noise to be heard up front, but the engine in general is very quiet and refined, with the most prominent noise being the transmission whine.
There’s no symposer fitted here this time (is it sad that I checked quite soon after pickup?), but if you are driving enthusiastically, the engine does emit quite a nice offbeat, subdued growl, accompanied with a bit of exhaust blare coming from the back.
Despite the exhaust pipe being quite wide though, there’s less to shout about this time around – even less than the 1.6 Ti-VCT unfortunately – and so there’s not much in the way of a note to be heard from the rear otherwise.
Only the nicer sounds get to filter their way through all the soundproofing but even then, the road noise will soon drown it out at higher speeds anyway.
If only it sounded a bit more like this:
In short, there’s still a wide smile to be had on your face. Its a large step away from the standard model but ultimately brings less fear than the ST.
If you’ve got the joyous First World Problem of “Fiesta Zetec S or Fiesta ST?” We’ll get to that soon…
Spec: Zetec S Ecoboost 140 2015.5MY Engine: 1.0 Turbo Petrol, 138bhp (@ 6000rpm), 155lb ft (@ 1400rpm) Transmission: 5 Speed Manual Mpg: Official: 62.8mpg Achieved: 43 - 47mpg Performance: 0-62mph: 9.0 Secs, 125mph Colour: Candy Red Running Period: Autumn – Present 2015 Options - Modena Full Leather Pack (Inc Heated Seats), 14" Spare wheel, Rear Privacy Glass, EATC Climate Control, Cruise Control, Automatic Headlights, Convenience Pack (Keyless Entry, Starter Button, Folding Door Mirrors & Puddle Lights), City Pack (Parking Sensors & Electric Door Mirrors), Active City Stop, Ford Navigation / DAB System
*Thanks to JP Sport Photography for the use of their picture!