We spend some time with the LupiniPower Ford Fiesta...
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The vast majority of cars we test here at iafrica Motoring arrive fresh from the manufacturer in bog standard trim. But this week, the LupiniPower Ford Fiesta — a tuned version of the popular 1.6 Titanium three-door model — roared its way into our office parking lot.
High-fives were exchanged. Fists were clenched. Backs were slapped.
As part of their return to tuning, the folks at Lupini, in conjunction with Lazarus Ford, are offering to wave their magic wand over your new Fiesta, which joins the Lupini Chevrolet SuperUte and the Lupini Suzuki Swift in the company's comeback range.
So, what sets the Lupini Fiesta apart from its stock standard relatives? Well, changes are both functional and cosmetic. We'll start with the latter, which are quite extensive...
The standard Titanium model is already a rather sporty-looking machine, but LupiniPower takes things a whole lot further. With its matte black vinyl wrap, drastic suspension drop, optional 17-inch black alloys, blacked-out chrome trim, Lupini badges, and large-bore exhaust pipe, the prototype we had on loan had undergone quite a visual transformation. In fact, it was like nothing else on the road.
The vinyl wrap grabbed the most attention from other motorists (and plenty of questions in traffic) and, despite sporting nearly 13 000km on the clock, the finish was still in a fairly impressive condition. Of course, the wrap, which also serves to protect the paint finish, can be removed at a later stage. So, the Lupini Fiesta's looks may be divisive (I found that the older folk weren't all that impressed, while the youngsters loved it), but the car definitely turns heads. And it, er, turns ears too...
Yes, the Lupini Fiesta breathes delightfully heavily. A branch manifold and free-flow system result in a deep exhaust tone from idle all the way through to redline. But while the sporty resonance — more than loud enough to get the neighbourhood dogs howling — is enjoyable as you blast along empty streets, I can't help but think it would soon become tiresome on longer journeys spent in top gear (which, sadly, is fifth and not sixth).
Under the hood
Of course, the aural onslaught does add to the feeling of speed. So, else what has been tinkered with under the bonnet, and to what end? Well, modifications to the camshafts and cylinder head on the 1596cc DOHC 16V engine, along with a remapped ECU, have helped to boost power from the standard 88kW (at 6000rpm) to a claimed 110kW (at 6200rpm), which works out to an increase of 25 percent.
Torque climbs from the stock vehicle's 149Nm to 175Nm at the same 4250rpm peak, or about 17 percent more twisting force. Ford claims that the standard Titanium completes the 0-100km/h sprint in 9.9 seconds, topping out at 193km/h, while LupiniPower says their modded version hits 100km/h in just 8.5 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 208km/h.
Interestingly, LupiniPower claims that fuel consumption is improved and that CO2 emissions have dropped too. While this may be the case, the exhaust note in particular makes it difficult to resist driving the car hard, which does little for economy. But, of course, that part's up to the driver...
The prototype did have one niggle, which reared its head whenever I attempted to accelerate hard from low in the rev range. From about 1800rpm, putting your foot down (in all gears other than first) results in a brief hesitation as unburned fuel is coughed through the exhaust. Once the needle passes about 2000rpm though, the misfire clears and the engine revs cleanly to redline. While I found that it was possible to tailor my driving style to this quirk, being quite gentle with my right foot until the revs had passed 2000rpm, one shouldn't have to do this. However, a simple ECU tweak should solve what is quite probably just an over-fuelling issue.
To match its newfound power, the Lupini Fiesta also gets bigger brakes, which are well up to the task of hauling the matte black beast to a standstill. The 17-inch rims with 205/40 tyres replace the stock 16-inchers (195/45), and are closer to the bodywork than before thanks to the lower ride height, which is facilitated by progressive rate coils. The Fiesta's chassis geometry has also been altered and the car benefits from a more aggressive stance, with body roll almost non-existent through the corners. Despite all this, the ride was surprisingly comfortable.
So, wouldn't all this void my four-year or 120 000km warranty, I hear you ask? Well, in a word, yes. But included in LupiniPower's price is a comprehensive three-year unlimited kilometre LupiniPlan warranty, optionally upgradable to five years. So, what is the magic number?
Well, a Titanium (sans optional extras) from Ford would set you back R203 020, while the modded Lupini Fiesta is priced at R233 950, or R239 950 including the optional wheels/tyres combo (the latest price according to Lupini's website).
So, the Lupini Fiesta is an individual, both in terms of looks and sound, and is an option for anyone looking for a car that stands out from the crowd. Stunning good looks? Check. Aural pleasure? Yip. Just enough of a power hike? Yes again.
And since Ford currently doesn't offer a truly sporty Fiesta, the LupiniPower Fiesta is definitely filling a gap...
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Click through to page 2 for specs and pricing.