‘New’ Fiesta special last of the old?

Is the release of a limited-edition Fiesta the beginning of the end of this model’s time in New Zealand?

A LOCAL market jolly up for the Fiesta has been announced as the car’s maker remains mum about the type’s ultimate future here.

Ford New Zealand has not spelled out the exact impetus for creating the Sport Limited Edition (at right), a version of its automatic one-litre edition of the hatchback with detailing enhancements delivered by New Zealand suppliers.

Announcement of a variant limited to 100 examples comes amid conjecture that the next-generation Fiesta, already on sale in the United Kingdom, is not for our part of the world.

Ford NZ says it isn’t ready to discuss how much longer this generation of Fiesta has to go here or whether it will be replaced, yet in offering “we haven’t confirmed anything yet for that product, we don’t have an announcement on that one” spokesman Tom Clancy also acknowledged that Ford NZ is looking at the new line.

Conceivably, having been in production for eight years, the current car is ready for retirement, but Clancy rejected suggestion this new edition should be specifically viewed as a runout opportunity.

Expectation was that the current Fiesta, which has been supplied out of Thailand since 2010 and was last upgraded by Ford itself in 2013, will remain in showrooms after the 100 specials have been sold and will continue to be produced from there.

Is that a reassurance? Not necessarily.

What’s of potentially greater relevance are reports – which Ford New Zealand will also not comment on - that the factory at Rayong is not tooling up for the new model.

Conceivably, then, for New Zealand to access the next-gen Fiesta (below) would mean taking it from Germany, which might not be palatable because it would very likely cost more from that source.

The sourcing switch scenario has fuelled speculation across the Tasman that Ford Australia has already decided to ignore the new gen car in its mainstream format and will take it purely in a recently-revealed ST performance form – the blue car pictured today – but not until 2019. The current ST also comes from Germany.

Clancy has confirmed Ford NZ is also “looking into” the new ST but was surprised by talk that it is two years away. “2019? I had not heard that. I heard it may be earlier, but nothing is confirmed on that one.”

He has enforced that no-one here should assume that anything that plays out in our neighbour’s backyard need apply here as the Australian and NZ operations are no longer that closely aligned.

“We have a lot of autonomy these days. We’re not dependant on what Australia does. We’re not a suburb of Sydney any more.”

Asked if there was any possibility the new ST could come here before the current mainstream editions left, Clancy replied: “It would depend on timing, really.”

As for the Fiesta Sport Limited Edition? Clancy says a version that features a bold and sporty stripe pack, black wheels and a reverse camera will add extra excitement to a model that, he further concedes, has felt a lot of heat from rivals in an increasingly competitive and congested sector.

This view is abetted by Ford NZ marketing manager Alex Brown, who describes the car as delivering “a great blend of sporty looks, performance and practicality.”

Even so, a model that retails at $24,990 and is available in three colours – Frozen White, Absolute Black and Candy Red – is well behind the new gen car in terms of technology.

The latest car takes a plethora of new driver-assist and connectivity technologies - including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Active Park Assist with Perpendicular Parking – plus the infotainment system upgrades to SYNC3 status with a touchscreen providing pinch and swipe functionality.