Fiesta, a party on wheels.
Posted by: Paul Brian
Around the world, the new Ford Fiesta is a global success. In Europe, the Fiesta is the No. 2 best-selling car. In China, it has earned more than 50 awards. And the excitement is building in the United States where the Fiesta goes on sale this summer.
This past week I was among the first American journalists to get behind the wheel of the Fiesta five-door hatch or four-door sedan. Both models come equipped with either a manual transmission or Ford's North American industry-exclusive PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission that will help Fiesta achieve an expected 40 mpg. We also had the chance to experience Fiesta's 15 class-exclusive technologies as well as the safety, connectivity, and performance typically reserved for more expensive vehicles.
I really try to not break embargoed information. It's not fair to the company that's requested it, yet at the same time when you've got good news it's just SO hard to keep a lid on what you're thinking. So, I tend to find alternative ways to convey the message.
This uncomfortable position presented itself again Saturday morning during my WLS Drive Chicago show. I had spent some time during the week with the Ford Folks in San Francisco driving their snappy new Fiestas--sedan and five-door--that are getting close to appearing in dealership showrooms. The embargo was at midnight last night and I was reminded by my compadre-in-arms, Dave Sloan, that people would be up at that hour, salivating to read what I thought about the newest offering in the Blue Oval stable. So in full disclosure, I wasn't ready to pop this online until 1 pm Sunday, but then went back to double-check the time for release. Glad I did. The folks who invite us to do such things would like the lid on it until midnight TONIGHT, not last night. More teasing of the Fiesta, but an honest mistake, not a come-on!
2011 Ford Fiesta
No idea who this guy is, but somewhere he's got a TV show.
So I suggested on the radio that while I couldn't break the embargo on my impressions, I was highly recommending that Ford dealers consider adding a few new desks in their dealership showrooms for what might be a strong surge in business. Did I say I loved the Fiesta? You be the judge.
The fact is--now that it's free game time for impressions--Ford is going to have yet another reason why they're doing great with their entire lineup these days. Fiesta is addressing a small car (B-car as it's known in the industry) need let them fully compete in a highly competitive segment.
First off, it's a really sharp design. Angular, great colors (12 from which to choose) that'll tickle anyone's color palette, a base 1.6L 4-cyl engine that's going to deliver up to 40 mpg (with the manual tranny) and still give the owner room for 4 adults. The interiors are well-designed and I particularly liked that they've taken the Synch System for music, multi-media, satellite and iPod inputs into the next step. It's worth stopping by your local Ford store to see everything Synch does, as fully describing it here would take up more room than I have and more time than you have. The highlight for me, though, were the apps that now will allow real-time streaming of Pandora (for music) and Stitcher (for talk radio content). In connectivity terms, Ford's Synch system leads the pack. Others are nice, but this is the stuff.
Driving Fiesta is pleasant, too. Is it a Group B Rally Car with neck-snapping power, 1.4 lateral g-force cornering and brakes big enough to stop Tiger Woods fingers from punching up his next text message? No, but it's darn nice and fully competent. Power is adequate enough to pop you on the expressway (as if any of them are moving over the summer) and not feel like you're waiting for a following wind to accomplish the mission. The suspension and handling team have Fiesta set up to do a little "road analysis" for you, too, which I loved. With roads "crowned" for draining properly, they've figured out a way to electronically take away the nibbles that often make a long trip on the Interstate more work than they should be. This system stabilizes the car and is akin to a TV SteadyCam. Nice!
We had the opportunity to drive Northern California's wine country mountain twisties and a fair amount of 65 mph freeway, as well. Fiesta stood up to both well. As I said, it's not a full-on performance car, but with a base price of (roughly) $17,000 and (as we drove them equipped (again, roughly) around $19,000, you're going to find comfortable, fuel efficient, quality transportation in the new Fiesta.
So yes, Ford stores will need a few more desks. This is a great segment in which to see a new, smart, comfortable, stylish product from Dearborn. If you drew that conclusion from my comments yesterday on the radio, then that's what you drew from them. From my perspective, I shaved this morning with a clean conscience that I complied with their wish to hold off comments until a particular time. I'm betting, though, that their hearts wouldn't have been broken if I had spilled the beans 12 hours in advance, but that wasn't the deal we signed on for.
Nicely played, Ford. Customers are going to like this car as much as dealers will like selling them.
Next week... the new Jaguar XJ, dahhhhhling.