2012 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback: Subcompact is big on style and safety
By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Ford began its Euro-styled Fiesta in 1976 marketed only in Europe. The vehicle finally reached American shores in 2010, and now in its sixth generation, produced in Mexico with some American tweaks and adaptation to conform to U.S. regs, has received full North American market status.
Built in Cuautitlán Izcalli, México, Fiesta is powered by a Brazilian-constructed aluminum-block 1.6-liter I-4 Ti-VCT engine that produces 120hp and 112 lb-ft of torque. The set-up, coupled with the vehicle’s light curb weight of 2578 lbs. for the hatchback with manual transmission, is EPA rated at 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, while the PowerShift Automatic SFE package is rated at 29 in the city and 40mpg on the highway. A week’s testing on my review manual hatchback showed an average of 32.3mpg.
A trendy, hip, fun-to-drive small car that is big on safety, and high-strength steel in its rigid structure, the Ford Fiesta combines a cool look, economy, and small-car abilities with strong driving dynamics.
Fiesta also offers class-exclusive technologies and first-to-market features such as hands-free SYNC® with voice-controlled travel, directions and information and Pandora internet radio app.
Fiesta’s hatchback measures a length of 160.1 inches (13.5 inches shorter than the four-door version), a width of 67.8 inches and height of 58.0 inches on a 98.0-inch wheelbase).
Utilizing forward movement in its design, Fiesta seems to be in motion with its sloping windshield and hood, long dragon’s eye headlamps and athletic swooping sides that point toward the front fenders. Its high wheel wells and side creases as well as its aggressive rear hatch and above it, a cool decklid spoiler, make for a very sporty demeanor from all views.
On the rear hatch the rear windshield is endowed with a rear wiper, and exterior appeal is enhanced with body-color decklid eyebrow molding, Easy Fuel ™ capless fuel filler, two-bar body-color grille, body-color front and rear bumpers and door handles, integrated blind spot mirrors, body-color power mirrors with integrated mirrors and solar-tinted glass.
Under hood, the front-wheel drive Fiesta’s 1.6-liter I-4 Ti-VCT engine provides responsiveness that doesn’t equate to track quickness, but that does produce adequate highway and road capabilities. Downshifting for extra power results in slight hesitation, but steady acceleration shows the engine can be asked to perform and will slowly and steadily deliver. Zero-to-60 sprints were accomplished in a tardy 9.4 seconds and the quarter-mile took 17.3 seconds, but unless you need immediate power for passing or that quick extra burst for long uphill grades on the interstate, Fiesta is quite capable of keeping up with traffic demands.
Fiesta’s electric power steering delivers a firm feel and only slight understeer in quick turns, and braking causes some abrupt dive, but conveys confidence.
Inside, the diminutive exterior package evolves into a roomy-for-the-niche cabin that presents seating capacity for five and remarkable front headroom of 39.1 inches, front legroom of 42.2, front hip room of 50.6 and front shoulder room of 52.7 inches. Rear measurements go 37.2 inches of headroom, 31.2 inches of legroom, 47 inches of hip room and 49 inches of shoulder room.
The cabin treatment is solid, upscale and sporty with two-tone leather-trimmed seats that are in-synch with door trim inserts, color-coordinated steering wheel and instrument panel trim, premium carpet floor mats with the Fiesta logo embroidered in front and a leather-wrapped gearshift knob.
You also get a 4-inch multifunctional display with LCD screen, manual air conditioning with electric actuation, metallic trim on instrument panel, manual tilt/telescoping wheel with metallic trim, power door locks with auto lock, message center with trip computer, AM/FM stereo with single CD player, MP3 capability and four speakers, power windows with driver one-touch up/down, carpeted floor mats, driver and front passenger sun visors with vanity mirrors, rear window defroster, intermittent windshield wipers, driver left footrest, center and rear dome lamps, cloth bucket seats, 4-way manual driver and 2-way manual front passenger seats.
Named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Fiesta is big on safety with a class-leading array of seven airbags including a class-exclusive driver’s knee airbag, side intrusion door beams, tire pressure monitoring system, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with Electric Brake Force Distribution, front disc/rear drum brakes, AdvanceTrac® with electronic stability control and SOS Post Crash Alert System™.
Additionally, Fiesta’s Trinity front crash structure helps prevent occupant injuries in a frontal crash incident using a boron steel front beam and shotgun rails to absorb initial crash force and transmit impact forces to the Fiesta’s rigid roof structure. Fiesta’s decoupling engine cradle will shear to drop the powertrain to help prevent intrusion into the passenger cabin under impact.
The 2012 Ford Fiesta sedan starts at $13,200 and the Hatchback at $15,670, with the upscale SES trim starting at $17,500. My SE model with 5-speed manual transmission (automatic would have added $995), and the Sync and Sound Package (Bluetooth capability, 911 Assist™ after accidents and Vehicle health Report diagnostics) added $595, keyless entry added $95, a power moonroof added $745, and destination charges added $795 for a sticker price as tested of $17,900.
> 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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