First Drive: 2012 Ford Fiesta AT Tested at BIC

It doesn’t get better than this, especially for the enthusiasts that we are for a car with a heritage of sporty intentions to marry a track I’d rate as the Mecca of Indian Motorsports, the Buddh International Circuit that hosted the first Indian F1 Grand Prix last year. Days after the official launch of the all new Ford Fiesta AT, Ford revved up for an impressive track day for us to gauge the Fiesta AT’s capabilities. Present on the occasion were Mr. Michael Boneham (President  & MD, Ford India) and Mr. Nigel E. Wark (Executive Director, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford India)

2012 ford fiesta firstdrive bic

who played perfect hosts as Mr. Nigel started the proceedings with a briefing about the Powershift Transmission of the Fiesta and its capabilities. After the security instructions and a minor briefing of the track from the Track Officials, we headed for the track to experience the all new Ford Fiesta AT (Powershift).

With the launch of the Fiesta with Powershift transmission, Ford does break some ground realities and powers the Fiesta with best in class automatic transmission. Some myths got busted, Ford claims the transmission is capable to serve the life of the vehicle (10 yrs or 2,40,000 Kms, whichever is earlier), remains service free up to the same period, returns an overall efficiency of 16.97kmpl which is best in segment and on par with manual transmission and most importantly, is available from as low as 8.99 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi.

That makes the Fiesta the first car to get the Dual Clutch Transmission in the entry level C segment cars and one of the cheapest C segment sedans to sport an automatic transmission at the same time. Great job I must say as we head on to the pit lanes and gear up for my first ever lap on THE BUDDH INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT.

2012 Ford Fiesta Automatic at Buddh International Circuit

Soft as Mr. Nigel Wark always is, asked me to experience the smooth shifts and the Sports Mode denoted by the alphabet ‘L’ on the transmission panel. With my head gear on and seat belt in place, I stream out of the pit lane with a Pilot car in front, not considering me less than an F1 driver and the car ahead as Safety Car. Time froze.

Out on the circuit, the Fiesta felt straightaway at home, such brilliant is its handling and direct is its chassis that I shifted the car to the ‘L’ mode on the very first turn of the track. The transmission shifts smooth as cream whether in any mode ‘D’ or ‘L’, just that the gears are held longer upto the rev limit in the ‘L’ or what we normally say the Sport mode. Straight after the first turn was a long 1.2 kilometer straight, the Pilot car screamed full throttle to experience the acceleration and velocity on straights. No matter how hard I would have concentrated, I had to look at the speedo then, and it did turn to be on the righter side of the 160 Kmph mark way before I had to brake. I was experiencing two of the bestest things, a car that is more so segment best in handling and a world class track that has superb gradients that never let the monotony creep in. Up to the right-left chicanes then, there were traffic barriers placed for us to check the handling part of the car and balance of the chassis and dare I say that Fiesta wasn’t upto it. After the chicanes then there was a long right turn, probably the fastest of the track for us to experience the car’s brilliant chassis and grip. From there on, just before the pit lanes, we enter the helipad area prepared for us to test the Hill Hold feature where the car would hold it while climbing up for almost 2 seconds, time enough to get your foot off from the brake pedal and jump on to the accelerator lever. Out from the helipad area then, we headed towards the pits after what I can assess as possibly the most exciting drives of my life till date.