“JUST nipping out to play footy with the lads, mum. Any chance of taking the car, I’ll only be an hour or so?”
That familiar request is one that has raised the blood pressure of many a parent, conjuring up visions of boy racers scorching round country lanes with boom boom music blasting out at an ear-splitting volume.
Now Ford has come up with industry-first technology that if not the complete answer, at least goes some way to alleviating parents’ fears.
It’s called MyKey and makes its debut on the new Ford Fiesta model which arrives in UK showrooms this month.
While stopping short of a complete Big Brother-type approach, the set-up enables parents to place restrictions on young drivers to promote safer driving.
It means the car owner can programme an admin key that restricts the top speed of the Fiesta to 80mph, peg the maximum volume of the sound system, delivers an earlier low fuel warning and improve speed awareness through alerts at a set level from 45mph upwards.
MyKey enables parents to place restrictions on young drivers to promote safer driving
MyKey also sounds a louder than normal warning and also mutes the audio if a seatbelt isn’t being worn, as well as preventing the likes of traction control, parking aid and Active City Stop being disabled.
It works seamlessly in practice too, as I discovered when taking one of my own sons to the new Fiesta press exercise based in Manchester – just yards from the site of Ford’s first production facility outside the US, where the Model T was built in 1911.
Already standard kit on most of the company’s cars in North America, the plan is to roll-out MyKey across the European product range by 2015 and Ford has been in consultation with the insurance industry with a view to lowering premiums.
More than four million Fiesta models have been sold in the UK since its arrival in the mid-1970s and the latest, most stylish yet, line-up boasts six engines with sub-100g/km emissions and fuel economy from 65.7mpg.[singlepic id=2 w=320 h=240 float=none]
New to the Fiesta and available with either 100 or 125PS is Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit that claimed the 2012 International Engine of the Year title.
While the latter is sweet and lively, the 100PS version is no slouch with its 0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds in a car that displays the qualities of style, simplicity and comfort that have made the Fiesta Britain’s favourite supermini.
Also new to the line-up is a frugal 80PS 1.0-litre petrol unit with direct-injection and a 75PS 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel.
Otherwise owners can pick from the existing 95PS 1.6-litre TDCi diesel, a 105PS 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 1.25-litre petrol unit with either 60 or 82PS.[singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=none]
Springtime will see a a high-performance Fiesta ST model, powered by a 182PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, join the party.
In addition to MyKey the Fiesta’s package of driver assistance and safety features includes the Active City Stop anti-collision system and the company’s new SYNC set-up which gives advanced voice control and Bluetooth connectivity as well as automatically alerting the emergency services in the event of an accident.
And a flagship Titanium X model adds stuff like the Keyfree system and partial leather as standard.
This month also sees the arrival of the new Fiesta van range in which every diesel engine boasts sub-100g/km emissions and at least 76.4mpg, while the ECOnetic version goes even further with figures of 87g/km and 85.6mpg – a feat no other manufacturer in the class matches.[singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=none]
With a practical 1.0 cubic metre load space, the Fiesta Van’s load compartment features a secure steel bulkhead and four cargo tie-down hooks plus a tough rubber floor mat and durable sidewall trim.
The powertrain choice includes the new 75PS 1.5-litre and 95PS 1.6-litre TDCi engines and the 82PS 1.25-litre petrol unit, while the ECOnetic offers the specially developed 95PS 1.6-litre TDCi powertrain with standard Auto-Start-Stop, lowered suspension, aerodynamic rear undertray and wheel trims and low rolling resistance tyres.
Both MyKey and SYNC are offered in an LCV that drives so well that it’s only when you look in the rear-view mirror and see the mesh separating cabin from load area that you realise this is in fact a van rather than a car.
Fiesta prices start at £9,795 with vans from £11,746.