2011 Ford Fiesta: Ford’s Diamond

21 Sep 2010 | 4,518 views | No Comment
Just about everything you’ve heard about the all new Ford Fiesta is true.
It’s a diamond.   Anyone who doesn’t consider it when buying a small car is out of their minds, and likely to be profoundly disappointed when they buy something else and see a Fiesta later. No, it’s not perfect. No car is. It still has a way to go in the interior room department, its interior is not as functional and flexible as its primary competition, the Honda Fit. And its dual clutch automatic has some rough edges and shifting issues that need to be ironed out, and from what we hear, Ford’s on it. Still, it’s the best thing that’s happened to American compact and subcompact cars since we don’t know when. It sets the bar way, way high not only American car makers, but for everybody else too. That’s what happens when you have air tight quality, an interior that’s better than many luxury cars, to say nothing of being the most inviting, hands down, of all the compact and subcompact cars we’ve tested---and handling that puts a smile on your face. And styling? Fiesta’s a winner here, hands down. And that’s good news for Ford. Styling has been Ford’s biggest challenge for some time now, except for the classically charismatic Mustang. The brand has had everything else going for it: Strong quality, technology and electronics know-how to die for, and a reputation on the upswing. But styling was always nice--jut nice--nothing to get excited about. Even the Fusion, as pretty as it is, still falls short of both Hyundai’s Sonata and Chevy’s Malibu. We expect big things when the Fusion gets its next revamp. But here comes the Fiesta, and boy, is it sweet looking. Just the right sense of motion in its lines, just the right proportions and relationship between front and rear wheels, and enough aggression to scare off competitors. The Fiesta also uses some tricks inside and out that are seen only on much more expensive cars. Check out the chrome trimmed driving lights that resemble what Audi now uses as a trademark up front for its lineup. And how about the ambient lighting and hip looking violet-pink glow that comes from the cup holders and various other interior spots? Cool! Ford’s turned a styling corner. Let’s welcome back the Blue Oval gang to styling leadership. Our test model was a pre-production SES five door hatchback--and we ask you to remember that important phrase --preproduction. These are cars built prior to those that are sold to the public, and they’re still rough around the edges so to speak. Now about that dual clutch PowerShift six speed automatic transmission. It seemed to be hunting for the right gear from time to time, and it sometimes caused the car to spring forward when you first head out after starting the car. At other times, it made it tough to get up Pittsburgh’s hills quickly, and it shifted with a jerk sometimes while underway on the road. In the current issue of Motor Trend, that magazine’s staff had similar concerns. “Our example shifted uncertainly and sometimes inappropriately. Ford’s response was that it as a preproduction unit not completely to production spec.” Their choice for best transmission in a small car? Nissan's continuously variable automatic in the Versa. Ford's engineers and company officials say that they are aware of the glitches in the pre-production models, and a sercvice bulletine has been provided for dealers. But to be fair, these irritations only occurred a small portion of the time we drove the car. Most often, the Fiesta and the transmission were just fine on the road. For us, the real treat with the Fiesta was its handling. It just chews up the road, and it has gobs of that important trait--tossability. The Fiesta, powered by a 1.6 liter, 120 horsepower four, (we averaged 29 miles per gallon) rated at 28/37 or 29/40 miles per gallon and with a 0 to 60 time of 9.5 seconds, isn’t particularly fast, but it is perky and engaging when you hit the gas. The interior, is of course a highlight. Where do you begin to describe it? The rust colored front seats were awesome, and provided plenty of thigh and leg support. Everything on this car--everything-- felt so solid and well built, from the satisfying sound of the doors and trunk closing, to the tone of the chi8mes when you start up. You have nice chunky, intuitive controls, and of course, there’s Sync. Just plug in your Ipod and a voice comes on, walking you through the process The instrument panel had plenty of the gee-whiz factor, especially the futuristic center stack. The controls for the audio system were somewhat confusing, though, so you may want to spend some quality8 time with instruction manuals before use. The back seats of the Fiesta fold down, of course, but there aren’t the hidden compartments and the built-in flexibility that you have with the Honda Fit, which one magazine referred to as the “Swiss army knife” of the automotive world. What seals the deal for the Fiesta is its huge list of standard equipment. Our SES, which had a base price of $17,120 had painted aluminum wheels, capless fuel filler, power side heated mirrors, with marker lamps, driving lamps, one touch up and down windows, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise ad audio controls, the well-regarded Sync voice activated system, satellite radio, ambient lighting among other things, as standard equipment. Want more? Try air conditioning, side air bags, traction and stability control, keyless entry, full power equipment and on and on and on. Adding a rapid specification package, leather seating and other items brought the final price tag to $20, 375. Ford’s timing with introduction of the Fiesta ia s impeccable. The action is now at the small end of the automotive market, and consumers want well-equipped luxurious small cars, and they are willing to pay for them. Fiesta will likely find a home with many of those buyers.

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