2011 Ford Fiesta: A world car that’s a fun car
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The commercials are starting to hit the popular TV shows … and that means Ford is joining the fun-car market with the 2011 Fiesta.
Taking a page out of the Euro and Asian tuner and fun car line-ups, Ford is aggressively going after the subcompact niche with European panache. In fact, Fiesta has Euro roots. Fiesta began from 1976 to 1983 in Europe and now in its 6th generation …with some American tweaks and adaptation to conform to U.S. regs, is headed for full American status, though it is produced in Mexico.
Assembled in Cuautitlán Izcalli, México, and employing a Brazilian-built aluminum-block 1.6-liter I-4 Ti-VCT engine, Fiesta has already won accolades as one of the “coolest” of “hottest” cars priced under $18,000.
Fiesta comes to the U.S. via Ford of Europe’s design team. During the prototype and project stages of the original Fiesta in the 1970s, the car’s proposed name included a plethora of monikers including Iris, Beta, The Deutschlander, Mini-Mite and Blue Car. When the project was finally code named Project Bobcat, another slew of names was suggested, which included, Amigo, Bambi, Bebe, Bravo (which the Ford Board preferred), Bolero, Cherie, Chico, Fiesta, Forito, Metro, Pony, Sierra and Tempo. Henry Ford II personally chose Fiesta, a name that belonged to GM, but which was given to Ford at no cost.
But that was the old Fiesta … the new, 2011 Fiesta is a new and exciting version of the established Euro-subcompact that appeals to the budget conscious as well as the young, “drive-with-excitement-and flair” crowd.
At 160.1 inches in length, 67.8 inches in width and 58 inches in height on a 98-inch wheelbase, the 5-door hatchback I tested was compact outside, with comfort and upscale appeal inside.
Fiesta’s flamboyant look begins with the Blue Oval badge centered on the grille over the signature inverted trapezoid lower grille opening. A bold, forward-motion stance encompasses sweeping, elongated headlamps that frame and connect the hood to muscular, sculpted front fenders. From the ground up, you see 16-inch luster 8-spoke nickel premium paint wheels and deep, precise, artistic cuts in the side panels that seem to create a slash-and-move demeanor.
In the rear, chamfered rear liftgate glass, the low roofline sweeping into a spoiler and dramatic taillamps with honeycomb detailing mounted high in the five-door’s corners accentuate muscular rear quarter panels. My test ride was clothed in striking Lime Squeeze Metallic but colors run from Black to Candy Red to White, Silver and Blue.
Standard exterior items included 15-inch wheel covers, Easyfuel capless filler, front/rear intermittent wipers, integrated spotter mirrors, power mirrors, quad beam halogen headlamp, rear spoiler and rear window defroster.
Under hood, the front-wheel drive Fiesta is powered by an aluminum-block 1.6-liter I-4 Ti-VCT engine that produces 120hp and 112 lb-ft of torque. That is enough force to take the 2537-lb. hatchback from zero to 60mph in a slow-but-steady 9.5 seconds. My best quarter-mile test showed 17.4 seconds and passing on the interstate requires some strategy. Cornering was surprisingly tight for the class; EPAS rack-and-pinion steering was responsive, the ride was smooth and grip is good, with the expected small-car yaw and understeer in autocross maneuvers.
Independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bars and a twist beam rear with coil springs make for a smooth, forgiving ride.
Interestingly, the EPA rates the Fiesta manual (which I drove) at 29 mpg in the city and 38mpg on the highway, while the 6-speed automatic is rated at 30/40. That is because its PowerShift automatic transmission features several fuel-saving technologies including aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and enhanced aerodynamics twin-independent variable cam timing that make it a responsive and fuel-responsible driving experience. During 500 miles of mixed-use tests with highway cruises making up 75 percent of the miles covered, my manual Fiesta averaged an impressive 36.3mpg.
Inside, there is remarkable roominess. The cabin measures 39.1 inches of headroom, with 37.1 inches in row two, 42 inches of front legroom with 31.2 behind and shoulder room of 52.7 and 49.0 with seating for five.
Standard interior items include 1-touch up/down driver window, air conditioning, AM/FM single CD/MPS system with 4 speakers and auxiliary audio input jack, iPod interface, center dome lamp with map lights, dual sunvisors with mirrors, power door locks with remote keyless entry and rear dome lamp.
Attending to safety Fiesta employs AdvanceTrac with ESC, front disc and rear drum brakes with ABS, power steering with EPAS, child rear safety door locks, driver knee airbag, driver and passenger air bags, side air bags and curtains, security anti-theft engine immobilizer, and tire pressure monitor system.
Marketed aggressively, the Fiesta SE is base priced at $15,120. The Power Moonroof is $695, Sirius Satellite Radio adds $370, Keyless entry is $95 and Ford Sync and Sound, Cloth buckets and Sport appearance package are added at no charge. With destination charges of $675, drive-off is $17,710 plus tax and license.
At under $18,000 Ford’s Fiesta is a fun, low-cost ride destined to create excitement on the road and in the showrooms.
I> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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