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Friday / 24 May 2024
HomeFeaturesGoodbye forever Ford Fiesta

Goodbye forever Ford Fiesta

Today, 7 July 2023, is the final day that the Ford Fiesta will be produced anywhere in the world, marking the end of an era after 47 long years and seven generations.

The company announced in late 2022 that its famous hatchback would cease being produced in 2023, with Ford Europe confirming to Autocar that the final day has now arrived.

For this, we have two things to blame: SUVs and EVs (electric vehicles).

Hatchback sales have been steadily declining in recent years alongside a consistent climb in popularity, variety, and affordability of SUVs and crossovers.

The majority of automakers around the world have also committed to electrifying many, if not all of their vehicles, the Blue Oval being one of them, and Europe being the centre of the EV  revolution.

Therefore, the small hatchback that was, or is until today, being built in Cologne, Germany, presented the perfect model to be axed to make way for the production of a large electric SUV – the new Ford Explorer.

“We decided to build our first high-volume electric vehicle here in Cologne. There comes the point where we need the space for construction, because we are turning the Fiesta plant into a fully battery-electric plant,” Martin Sander, general manager of Ford Model E Europe, told Autocar.

“This is why we had to make a decision that we have to stop Fiesta production.”

The final two examples of the Fiesta won’t be up for sale, though.

One is staying in Germany and heading to the firm’s international heritage fleet, while the other is on its way to the UK heritage fleet.

Ford Explorer e-factory

A brief history of the Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta burst onto the scene in 1976 and was a near-instant success thanks to its low asking price and trouble-free liveability.

It answered calls from the public who were willing to ditch space and power for fuel economy and cheap running costs, and it put Ford in competition with the likes of the Fiat 127, Honda Civic, and VW Polo.

By the end of its production run in the early 1980s, the original Mk1 Fiesta sold in excess of one million units and was available in sporty XR2 and Supersport models which are highly collectible today.

In 1983 arrived the second-generation Fiesta, offering more powertrain options than its forebear as well as a slightly modernised look.

Again, this iteration saw the introduction of an XR2 spec for enthusiasts and a diesel model for those who value efficiency above all.

It proved to be even more popular than the first Fiesta and sold a total of 4.5 million examples.

Fast forward to 1989 and the whole world’s eyes fell on the highly-anticipated third-gen Fiesta.

For the first time, it was available in both three- and five-door hatchback styles and it could optionally be had with a longer wheelbase, too.

This Ford was also much more luxurious than its ancestors offering amenities such as a heated windscreen for those cold winter mornings and more supportive seats.

In 1991, fuel-injected engines became part of the line-up and boosted its popularity even more.

The Fiesta Mk4 was unveiled in 1995 and in design, it was a stark change.

Gone was the boxy look of before, replaced with a rounded shell and light fixtures. It also got a new engine line-up, headlined by the 100hp Zetec S powerplant.

Not as desirable as those who came before it, the fourth-gen model was given a facelift around 1999 lending it a sportier appearance.

Come 2002, the fifth instalment of the Fiesta saw the light of day going somewhat back to its roots with a more angular design.

More advanced, more attractive, and safer than the previous model thanks to standard fitment of ABS brakes and airbags, the fifth-gen version immediately shot up the sales charts, and to date, it’s the best-selling Fiesta ever.

The year 2005 saw even more features added such as Bluetooth and automatic headlights, and the famous ST badge that we know today was used for the first time on the range-topping trim.

2008 gave rise to the Fiesta we see most often on South African roads today.

With fashionable looks and a streamlined production strategy that lowered prices, it was popular among car buyers looking for cheap and reliable transport in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The Fiesta was built under the manufacturer’s “One Ford” initiative which meant that a unit sold in Europe was nearly identical to those in Africa, Asia, and everywhere else it was available in order to streamline production and cut down on costs.

This was also the first one of its kind to be used in the World Rally Championship (WRC) as a heavily-modified contender.

It remained among the best-selling cars on the market for the eight-odd years it was on sale, however, it started to feel the squeeze from the SUV segment which until now was relatively dormant, and it was to be the last generation of the Fiesta that Ford sold locally.

From 2016 until today, the final version of the Fiesta was available in markets such as Europe and the UK, appealing to a wide range of customers with three- and five-door body styles, crossover-inspired trim lines with roof rails, and athletic ST models.

Like the sixth, the seventh generation was also used in WRC and won as many as five races to score it the world championship in 2007.

In 2021, it was updated again with fancier features and a modern design, and with it came the sad news that in two short years, the hatchback would no longer be around.

We have now, unfortunately, reached the final call for the Fiesta, with no replacement currently confirmed to be in the pipeline – not even an electric one.

If you happen to have a special version of the Ford in your garage from its 47-year history – think XR2, RS Turbo, or ST 200 – it could be wise to hold on to it as it might just become a highly-coveted collector’s item in the not-so-distant future.


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