As he took the wraps off production versions of its new Fiesta on the eve of the Geneva show, Ford of Europe president John Fleming revealed that the debate over whether or not to keep the name was heated.

The alternative was Verve, which has been used on a number of concept cars that have pointed the way toward the Fiesta - even as recently as the Detroit show last January, where a four-door sedan version was shown.

But ultimately, tradition won the day. "There was a lot of discussion over the name, but the Fiesta name builds on 30 years of history - and it's a good history," Fleming said, "so it's very fitting for the name to continue."

He conceded that Verve was also a good badge - indeed, Ford has registered it worldwide, and it could appear on a future model.

The new Fiesta is a much more exciting prospect than the outgoing model. Both three- and five-door versions were revealed at Ford's traditional pre-show press dinner.  Fleming praised the styling of the five-door, saying it "transferred the dynamism of the concept to a production car".

"The new Fiesta isn't bigger than the old model - but it's lighter and greener," Fleming said. The car has a number of "big-car features" such as keyless push-button starter, capless fuel filler and electronic power steering.

Fleming also gave the press a tantalising glimpse of the new Ka [which shares its platform with the Fiat 500], expected at the Paris show  in October.

"Don't blink or you'll miss it!" quipped Fleming, before a brief, fast-cut video was shown.

The new Ka will be made by Fiat in Poland alongside the Fiat 500 - and the video revealed, inevitably, a slight family resemblance. But the car's 'face' is very different, and the side profile has a window-line that looks more like the Vauxhall Corsa than the little Fiat.

Fleming said the new Ka would succeed a much-loved model.

"Many of us will be sorry to see the old Ka go," he said. "It still looks as modern and edgy as it did when we launched it 12 years ago."

Newspress