Exclusive: New Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai To Bangalore Drive


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It all started on just another lazy morning (Monday, 28th May) when our very own ‘350Z’ (Vibhor) dropped me a note asking if I would be interested to drive a Ford Fiesta Powershift from Mumbai to Bangalore. Ford organized this all-expense paid trip for The Automotive India to experience the capabilities of newly launched Fiesta Powershift. Since a considerable distance with good driving conditions was possibly the best way to make most out of this drive - our drive was scheduled from Mumbai to Bangalore.

Personally, I have missed out quite such events in the past including an opportunity to drive at the Buddh International Circuit recently. So I obviously didn’t wanted to miss out on this one. Driving an Automatic Ford Fiesta from Mumbai to Bangalore (Excellent roads and a petrol dual clutch automatic was a good enough business case for me!) was an opportunity I immediately grabbed.

Ford Mondeo was one of the very first cars I bought out of my own hard earned money many years back. It was a car that I had driven extensively in the UK and hence I was nostalgic about driving a Ford again. However, this one was an Automatic (Powershift as Ford calls it). While I always have a liking and preference for a manual, but Fiesta Powershift was no ordinary automatic. Ford has plonked in a 6 Speed Dual Clutch Auto Gearbox – it’s surely a segment best and a class leading one. I will write a comprehensive road test review of this car separately and the following section will primarily focus on our travelogue of the Mumbai - Bangalore Drive.
 
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Planning, Itinerary & Travelogue – Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai - Bangalore Drive

There was nearly no time to plan as the final go-ahead happened 3 days before. Since I had just the weekend with me, I decided to start early Saturday morning and return via flight next day (Sunday). Simple as it sounds. I set some targets. Some simple and easy targets, considering a leisurely journey with sufficient breaks.



Also set myself a couple of basic culinary targets:

> Breakfast at Kolhapur – “Misal Pav” – A local favorite dish. I was hoping it turns out more of a “Missile Pav” as I was intending to have it at Kolhapur.

> Lunch at a trademark “Kamat Upachar” some place enroute.

Ford had arranged and delivered the car by Friday evening at Mumbai. After getting the car, I immediately performed the basic checks (under the hood, essential fluids etc.) as well as checking the spare wheel and ensuring the jack / tool kit exists. Yes, all is well. On Friday night, I also briefly browsed through the ownership manual for a basic-know of Fiesta Powershift. It was a “Kinetic Blue” Ford Fiesta badged Titanium in the back. But surprisingly no signs of it being an automatic car on the outside. This TN registered Fiesta had already clocked 6,042 kms on the odometer by then.



I set an alarm for 3:00 AM and actually woke up on time. It does not happen too often with me because I am not one of the ‘early to rise’ birds. You can probably say that the passion for driving jump started me up early morning. OK. It was now 4 AM as per the schedule and I turned on the Fiesta. Unfortunately, it had rained overnight and I had not factored wet weather in my planning. So I was now thinking it would now take an additional 2 - 3 hour toll on the travel time depending on how bad it gets. It was time to reset the Fiesta trip meter to zero and kick start the thrilling “Mumbai To Bangalore Drive”. First section was like the back of the hand circuit, Mumbai-Pune expressway, as I have been doing this every weekend, it was the easiest part.

04:15 and I was hitting the expressway towards Pune. It was dark but with less traffic so easy. The hard part was to remember that your left foot has no business in an automatic. It took some 15 minutes for me to get acquainted to the fact that the left feet needs to be cemented to the dead pedal. Once this got ingrained in the mind driving, it became so much more easier. In no time, I was very comfortable with the braking, acceleration and handling part – much to my own surprise. Since the petrol steed I own is a Honda Cvic, a few comparisons (although unfair as civic belongs to a different segment) are inevitable.

I had to fuel up, so went in to the HPCL CoCo (Company Owned, Company Operated) fuel pump just past Khalapur toll plaza – Got a few cans of Red bull as well just in case I get exhausted. Started looking for the fuel opening lid switch and then realized it did not have any. The fuel lid works with the central locking and when the car is unlocked, the lid unlocks as well. A tank full done. I was ready to stretch those legs.



Two things that immediately struck me were handling and braking. The Fiesta Classic is a benchmark driver’s car; the new one fortunately carries the same legacy forward even though it is a 1.5 liter engine as opposed to the 1.6 liter on the Classic. I was amazed at the handling and the taut steering – the steering seems to read the human mind. It is indeed a great driver’s car and I was at complete ease with the twisties of the Mumbai Pune Expressway. The brakes were very good as well and offered a brilliant stability, keeping in mind that the rear is a drum while front are ventilated discs. The feedback was excellent and it does the job perfectly well. In addition, the steering feedback is immaculate and I found it was very slightly lighter than my Honda Civic but much much taut as compared to Mahindra XUV5OO. (Apologies for giving wayward comparisons but I hope it makes sense to some readers atleast!)

05:30 – I was thundering past Chandni chowk at Pune, doing well against the set target time to reach Pune. Bye Bye Sleepy Pune (Home sweet Home). Reached the Khed - Shivapur toll at 06:00 in the morning. It was for the first time ever I saw this toll nearly empty – it’s a traffic nightmare on this toll plaza otherwise. However, I realized it would be a day full of toll plazas on the Bangalore route. Sigh!

A few more tolls passed and I was getting used to the toll stops. So many tolls - it takes a toll on you, literally. Wish they would think of a toll free lane all the way to Bangalore. After all, this is part of the golden quadrilateral, atleast have some automated systems! The two lane concrete roads begin some 110 odd kms before Kolhapur and I was beginning to think this is getting better and my mind was starting to think about the first target “Missile Pav” breakfast. Rather than fancy hotels, I prefer local eateries, which would provide authentic local stuff, but alas, I was already gunning past Kolhapur and in the anticipation of finding a good local eatery, I had crossed over to Karnataka at 09:00 AM reaching Nipani. I was too hungry and stopped at the next eatery, a little dejected as the Kolhapuri breakfast plans got ambushed – thanks to the fact that I didn’t realize I was doing such good times that I crossed in to Karnataka before 09:00 AM. That’s a continuous five-hour journey.

To my surprise the eatery did have the Misal Pav breakfast I was looking for, though i knew it might not be the same stuff one would get in Kolhapur. Anyways breakfast done, I decided to take many pictures of the car that you will see in the road test review separately. I knew I might not reach Bangalore in good sun light so might as well take a lot of pictures and do the writing later. I had also arranged for the car to be returned on the same night at Bangalore.


 
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Experience and Travelogue – Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai - Bangalore Drive



The next stop was a fuel stop at an IOC pump. It was time to figure out the average I was getting through tank full method. The odometer read 6,473 Kilometers after covering a total distance of 400 kilometers since the last tank full, translating to an average fuel efficiency of 13.14 Kmpl which I believe is a very healthy average considering an automatic car running at high speeds on most stretches. I was not exactly driving in the economy mode either. It was meant to be a spirited drive to Bangalore.

Now with the driver and car tankful, started gunning again towards Bangalore, 10:35 I was at Belgaum, my usual Red FM channel has stopped working for some time now and I thought it was time to use the USB. Oops but it did not play. I started fiddling with all the buttons but to no avail. Damn I thought the USB format does not agree to the Ford system. Hey pressed the Aux button once more and lo behold it started playing – Phew, thank god. While I was used to the XUV playing a song from the USB, Ford system requires you to press the AUX once again to activate it because the first time you just get a line in active message.

In between Belgaum and Dharwad, though beware of the construction activities and marked diversions, not only were the roads well maintained but the dividers had nicely planted trees / saplings, even on either side of the roads there were trees planted with lots of flowers this season. It looked fantastic. Kudos to the road authorities. I wonder why the highways even though maintained by NHAI are so different on the Maharashtra and Karnataka side – isn’t it a part of the golden quadrilateral managed by the centre? I also found some amusing bus stops cum toilets once on the Karnataka side every few kilometers. Supremely unhygienic and unsanitary – I wonder why the bus commuters are being forced to this ammonia overdose. Is it a mandatory requirement before entering buses in Karnataka? :biggrin: Anyways atleast they have thought about providing the facilities, so I will give that to them.



11:37 – Reached Dharwad and from there to Hubli is a 2-lane stretch with no median in between for some 25 odd kilometers. Probably one of the slower stretches on the Bangalore highway. Hit Hubli at 11:57 and from then on the road began improving and the traffic was sparse. The best stretch of road I found in the entire journey was although between Hubli and Ranebennur. It seemed like freshly laid highway 3 lane with nearly zilch traffic. You could see a calm straight stretch of road with no vehicles all the way until the horizon. PURE DRIVING PLEASURE further enhanced with a Fiesta Powershift in your hands. Throughout this trip, the car felt extremely planted even at different kind of speeds and didn’t lose any composure over undue surface – impeccable road manners I would say. The suspension set up seems just about perfect for a sedan in this segment, while the steering was super stable.

13:57
and I was at Chitradurga. I had made up in good time against the targets set so far, so thought it’s time for a break and started looking out for “Kamat Upachar”. Skipped the one, which was on the opposite side of the road, thinking there would be one close by. But alas, I was wrong and had to drive all the way until Sira to find one. At last culinary target 2 fulfilled. At Sira, I again did a tank full (Now I mean of the car). This time an average of 13.13 Kmpl with the air conditioner on all the time. Pretty consistent, which means for the speeds done the automatic returns very decent economy. I am quite sure if driven reasonably, achieving 16 Kmpl and probably much more if driven sedately should be easily possible in the Fiesta Powershift. Mind you, we are talking of an automatic here and the efficiency is only possible thanks to the superb dual clutch gear box and again this is not at the expense of driveability - So kudos to Ford for achieving the right balance.

It took another 1 Hour 15 Minutes to reach my hotel upon entering in Bangalore. All thanks to Bangalore traffic. City of gardens or city of under construction flyovers – Not very sure of that? My hotel was close to the new airport and I am not sure if I took the fastest route, as the traffic was dense. The only part missing in the Bangalore traffic was two wheelers as compared to Pune (where for one four-wheeler you seem to have a 100 two wheelers!). Finally, checked the odometer again after reaching at the hotel and voila. It had 7,004 Kms on the clock at 18:15...that's 962 kms done in a breeze. Not too bad at all considering Indian driving conditions and traffic.

 
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Stats and Facts – Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai - Bangalore Drive



> Mission Accomplished: Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai To Bangalore Run

> Total Distance Covered: 962 Kilometers

> Total Time Taken (Including Breaks): 14 Hours and 15 Minutes

> Actual Time Taken on Road: Approximately 12 Hours

> Total Average Speed Maintained: 80 Kmph

> Overall Fuel Efficiency: 13.14 Kmpl with A/C On + "L" mode used often (Consider this close to worst one can achieve in the highway. Under normal driving conditions, it should return around 16 Kmpl)

> Total Fuel Consumed: 74 Liters

> Total Cost of Fuel Consumed: Rs.5,500 (Estimated)

> Unexpected Breakdowns: None

> Best Road Driven On: Hubli Ranebennur Stretch

> Worst Road Driven On: Bangalore City with Under Construction Flyovers All Over. And Not To Mention the Traffic

> Best Food Eaten: Kamat Upachar at Sira

> Worst Food Eaten: None

> Best Part about the Drive: Best Handling Sedan (< 10 Lakh) + Neat Empty Stretches = Driving Nirvana

> Worst Part about the Drive: Toll Plazas (Over Dozen of them!)

> What We Like in Fiesta Powershift: Fantastic Drivability and Handling, “Low” Mode Grunt

> What We Dislike in Fiesta Powershift: Lack of Paddle Shift / Sports Mode, Absence of Front Center Armrest



Successfully achieved all the targets (Ahh barring the Kolhapuri Misal Pav which was substituted by the Karnataki Misal Pav!)

> List of Tolls Enroute:



There were 2 tolls which just checked whether you have the receipt or not. I haven’t included them in the above list. Also there were two more tolls which are yet to open, that would make it nearly 20 toll booths for 962 km – Ridiculous!! The Ford Fiesta Powershift served immaculately and I had great fun also exploring the “L” (low) mode. I will talk in depth about the car in a separate review, which will come up shortly. I had no fatigue whatsoever; the driver seats were deep and well contoured.

All in all a fantastic experience. Special thanks to the Ford organizing committee for ensuring all logistics are well covered as well as The Automotive India (Vibhor) for offering me the opportunity to do this mad dash to Bangalore. I wish I could have met fellow TAIians at Bangalore but had no time to coordinate that and it and it would be a too short notice anyway but hopefully next time. Caught up with the Canadian GP qualifying later that night from the hotel and took the flight next day morning at 11:35 to Pune. I was home at 13:10 – Nice whirlwind trip! Surely a weekend to remember – for the joy of driving!

 
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Photographs – Ford Fiesta Powershift Mumbai – Bangalore Drive

Early morning start at 4:00 AM.


A magnificent view of the Khambatki Ghat.












The beautiful roads on the Karnataka side.






Noticed several wind energy projects enroute. Seems KA is incentivizing it and there have been huge investments.


Saw a huge construction site of a building in Belgaum which looked no less than a palace. Wonder what is it?


Spotted another vehicle flaunting automatic climate control - it lets the weather come in :)


Here's a scenic view of Navagraha Teerth – Just ahead of Hubli.


Saw a caucasian twin of the Dark Knight on the way...


And soon a distant cousin of raj_5004's Pintu.


Ford Fiesta all set to gladly cover up the remaining 207 Kilometers to Bangalore.


A quick pit stop on Kamat Upachar at Sira.


I intended to click this when plate arrived. By the time I remembered, I had devoured half of it. Tasty Indian Donuts as my kids call them.


Mission Accomplished! Finally at the Hotel close to the new airport.


Parked the Fiesta at the Hotel in Bangalore. Time for some well deserved rest!


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raj_5004

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AWESOME REPORT BRO. Very very well written and detailed. Driving the Fiesta A/T on such roads must have been fun. Have heard that its a great handler.

That medu vada ("urunu vada" as we mallus call it) made me hungry now. Kamat is always yummmm....

And yes, spotting Pintu's cousin came as a surprise! :-)
 
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