|Ford has made the subcompact segment cool with the introduction of the new 2011 Fiesta Hatchback. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
My three-decade comment refers to the original European-designed and built Fiesta that sold here from 1978 through 1980, a short lifespan in North America but a memorable car just the same. Some considered it a virtual copycat of the market-leading Volkswagen Rabbit hatchback that came before, and rightly so as it looked much the same and performed similarly, but it would be a mistake to compare the new Fiesta the same way.
It's the same as its
|The Fiesta's tall hind quarters and aggressively raked beltline makes for a sporty looking ride. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
Ford is making up for lost time in the subcompact segment by arriving with two new Fiesta body configurations right out of the gate, a four-door hatchback with good cargo
|Among the most uniquely shaped headlights in the industry. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Fiesta gets a powerful yet fuel-efficient engine that's quite advanced on the technologically front, with Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT), a lightweight composite intake manifold, an electronic throttle body, plus a short intake runner length for higher power and a fully symmetrical runner length for reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. The result is a 16-valve, DOHC, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with output levels that are greater than the subcompact average, reaching a maximum of 120-horsepower at 6,350 rpm and 112 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Ford's Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD) belt powers the air
|Some classy chrome trim detailing that really make the Fiesta stand out. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
Fuel economy is a Fiesta forte, with the five-speed manual-equipped model achieving an estimated 7.1 L/100km in the city and 5.3 on the highway, and the six-speed automatic getting an estimated 6.9 and 5.1 respectively, on regular fuel. Even better, Ford offers a Super Fuel Economy Package on SE models ($800 with the sedan and $500 for the hatchback) that brings the Fiesta's estimated rating down to 6.8 L/100km in the city and 4.9 on the highway by adding special T-rated tires measuring P195/60R15, as well as aerodynamic enhancements such as blockers on the lower grille, side air deflectors and cruise control.
I was surprised to learn that Ford wasn't utilizing
|Sporty looking wheels spiff up top-line models. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Never fumble with your keys again, just press the button and you're in. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
The PowerShift six-speed automatic is just one premium-like feature Ford is shifting down-market, with others, such as leather upholstery, top-tier audio and SYNC connectivity being made available too. What you get on your Fiesta will depend on the trim level chosen, and for 2011 there are two to choose from for the hatchback, namely SE or SES.
If you want economy above all, the base S sedan, at $12,999 plus $1,350 for shipping, is the way
|Once inside you're greeted by a well-made, tech-oriented cabin with a sporty flair. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
Exclusive to the hatchback, a
|The top-level SES gets leather seats with contrasting piping. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
The base hatchback can be upgraded with a standalone power glass sunroof at $1,200, plus a variety of feature combinations including the Winter Package featuring heated seats and heated side mirrors for $350; the SYNC and Sound Package featuring SYNC connectivity with steering-wheel controls and 911 assist plus an upgraded six-speaker sound system with hard drive media storage via a USB port that will charge your external device for $650; the Sport Appearance Package with 15-inch painted
|All the switchgear is high-quality. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
The SES hatchback, at $18,899 includes the features added via the Winter and SYNC and Sound packages along with such niceties as standard heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with spoke-mounted audio controls, chrome side window mouldings and deck lid appliqué, and 16-inch alloy wheels inside P195/50R16 all-season tires. The only SES hatchback options include the same power glass sunroof available with the SE for the same $1,200 price tag, plus leather seats
|Push-button start-stop in a subcompact? Believe it! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
Ford loaded up my test car with absolutely every option available, including leather and the push-button start system, which helped convey the concept of premium-like luxury and maximum efficiency combined. The look and feel of the interior is excellent for the class, although don't expect soft-touch plastics or real metal garnish as the Fiesta is still an entry-level model despite the top-tier features list. Nevertheless, all switches and knobs are nicely weighted and fit snuggly without any side-to-side slop, interior panels are put together well and the seats are very good. Even rear seat room is decent, with good headroom. You really notice the size difference between subcompact and compact models when comparing widths,
|SYNC with full connectivity, of course. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
While the Fiesta puts out more power than average, nothing in this class is going to light up the front tires. Once underway the little Ford moves along very well, mind you, and it tracks with confidence at highway speeds. Where it truly impressed was in the corners, delivering decidedly sporty performance and solid stability. While the availability of rear discs would be nice, none of its competitors offer them and its standard ABS makes stopping in any weather condition uneventful anyway. The Fiesta gets standard traction and stability control too, and I'm going on
|Rear seat room is good for the class. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
Just the same, it's a good idea to check crash test results before buying any car. The Fiesta scores as well as possible in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests with both body styles getting the organization's highest "Good" score for frontal offset and side-impact tests. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives both sedan and hatchback a 4-Star rating for frontal crash tests, 5-Star rating for side crash tests and a 4-Star rating for rollover tests.
The Fiesta is covered by Ford's 3-year or
|Room to spare. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
After a week of living with Ford's new Fiesta I'm a believer in the car and the company. If Dearborn keeps producing cars like this it won't have to rely on the old "Buy American" plea or worse, big price cuts, incentives and fleet sales to keep the factory doors open. The Fiesta is as good as any subcompact car has ever been and better than most.
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