Ford Europe groups super-efficient models like diesel Fiesta pictured under ECOnetic sub-brand

Ford Europe groups super-efficient models like diesel Fiesta pictured under ECOnetic sub-brand

Ford's UK unit has introduced a new Fiesta variant capable of returning over 85mpg.

The new diesel 'ECOnetic' version emits 87g of CO2/km exempting it from UK annual 'road tax' (VED) and the London congestion charge. Its official EU test cycle combined figure is 85.6mpg.

The B-segment Fiesta, usually top or second in the UK sales charts, leads a Ford car range which has reduced its average fleet CO2 emissions to 134g/km today from 154.5g/km in 2006 according to independent analysis by Clean Green Cars.

"As market leader in the UK, selling more cars and vans than any other manufacturer, Ford's low-CO2  technology has the greatest impact in shielding household budgets from the effect of rising fuel prices," the automaker said, noting that its own 2,000 Essex-based engineers lead development of the company's latest petrol and diesel engines.

Six years ago the best a Fiesta could achieve was 65.1mpg, a Focus could do no more than 51.4mpg and the Mondeo 44.1mpg.

The C-segment Focus ECOnetic sold in the UK is also road tax- and congestion charge-exempt at 83.1mpg (88g CO2/km) and a 65.6mpg (114g) D-segment Mondeo equivalent is available as both a five-door hatchback and estate (wagon).

All these diesel models use Ford's 1.6-litre TDCi engine assembled at the automaker's Dagenham diesel centre which is part of a joint venture with PSA Peugeot Citroen. Similar engines are also used in Volvo, Mazda, Citroen and Peugeot models.

New 125PS and 100PS versions of the one-litre EcoBoost engine launched first in the Focus achieve up to 58.9mpg (and 109g CO2) which saves owners first-year road tax charges.

Such efficient new engines from Ford and other automakers apparently have drawn the attention of the tax-raising UK chancellor (finance minister) Gorge Osborne who unveiled his fiscal 2012-13 nudget on Wednesday (21 March), including another, unpopular GBP0.03p-plus per litre hike in fuel duty to take effect from next August.

With more and more cars going on sale exempt from road tax (and congestion charging) Osborne indicated the vehicle tax regime would be changed saying, in his budget statement: The government is to consider whether to reform VED over the medium term “to ensure that all motorists continue to make a fair contribution to the sustainability of the public finances, and to reflect continuing improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency”.