It's every parent's nightmare but now Ford has come up with a way
of keeping young drivers as safe as possible behind the wheel.
A device called MyKey is being introduced on the latest Fiesta and it is designed to stop excessive speeding and other dangerous practices on the road such as playing music too loud.
The set-up is one of a series of hi-tech features Ford is rolling out on the latest version of its top-selling model alongside a set of economical new engines to keep the Fiesta ahead of the game.
With the line-up running from Pounds 9,795 to Pounds 17,545 the entry price for the new Fiesta is unchanged but higher grade models are moving upmarket with the introduction of Titanium X trim at the top of the range.
It will be in showrooms in the next few weeks and heralds some class-leading features including an active safety system to prevent low speed shunts in traffic.
No fewer than six of the 14 engines Ford is using in the new car come with tax-free emissions below 100g/km and one - the 1.6-litre diesel ECOnetic - is rated at 87g/km making it one of the cleanest cars around with average fuel economy of 85mpg.
The new Fiesta is also available with Ford's award-winning one- litre EcoBoost engine in either 100 or 125ps power settings.
We have just tried out the higher powered EcoBoost in a three- door Titanium trim Fiesta priced from Pounds 15,445. The car is fitted with a stop-start system as standard and comes as a five- speed manual.
The engine may be only a three cylinder but thanks to turbocharging it is a lively performer, never flat throughout the rev range and with a 0 to 60mph acceleration time of 9.4 seconds it is the quickest of the new crop of Fiestas.
Ford is also claiming average fuel consumption of 65.7mpg, although we fell way short managing only 42 to the gallon on an 80- mile run but much of that was on motorways.
For the first time Ford will also be using a non-turbo version of the three-cylinder engine and it will feature in Zetec and Titanium versions of the Fiesta priced from Pounds 13,045.
While slower - it develops 80ps and 0 to 60mph takes almost 15 seconds - it also uses a stop-start system which Ford claims results in the same fuel economy as the turbo and matching emissions at 99g/ km.
When it comes to ride and handling the Fiesta has always been a fine mover yet the new car is even sharper than the current version.
From a styling point of view the new Fiesta has a completely different nose with a five slotted grille sitting above the bumper. It also has a restyled bonnet and the overall effect has been to make it appear much more grown up.
Other changes include revamped rear light clusters and a more pronounced tailgate spoiler but otherwise it is the same as the present model which was introduced four years ago.
The extensive engine line-up - which also includes a new 1.5- litre diesel priced from Pounds 13,395 - and the additional equipment are part of a major makeover which will broaden the Fiesta's appeal to drivers young and old while also increase its profile among downsizers who want a smaller car with plenty of features and innovation.
The MyKey device is being fitted to all Fiestas while Ford's SYNC communications and entertainment technology, which includes automatic emergency assistance in the event of an accident, is standard on higher specification versions and a Pounds 200 option on all but the entry level Fiesta Studio.
Seldom has a mid-life refresh included such sweeping changes and without a doubt MyKey is a breakthrough.
Developed originally for Ford's American models it is being introduced into Europe under the company's "One Ford" global strategy and allows the main keyholder to programme the car to reduce risks by preventing the deactivation of safety systems such as stability and traction controls and restricting the maximum speed to 80mph.
The most common cause of serious accidents involving drivers under the age of 25 is excessive speed and Ford wants parents of young drivers to promote safer driving by using the MyKey to place restrictions on the car.
Other elements prevent the sound system from being played if seatbelts are not fastened, limit the volume of the audio player to stop music blaring out, give early warning of fuel running low and emit audio alerts when certain speeds are reached between 40 and 80mph.
The restrictions can be selected one by one and once programmed are stored in the car's memory to be activated when the secondary keyholder gets into the vehicle.
The settings can be overridden only from the main key and according to Ford a survey of more than 6,000 parents of young drivers across Europe revealed that more than half would be more likely to allow a teenage son or daughter to drive a MyKey-enabled car.
In America MyKey has proved so popular it is now standard on most new Fords and in Europe Ford plans to introduce the system across its range by 2015.
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