It only took a global recession and gas costing over $4.00 a gallon, but finally, automakers are embracing the subcompact. Not that this is a new segment-we’ve seen cars this size for decades. What is different this time around is that these are actual, real cars. Not just an afterthought. Buying an inexpensive subcompact used to mean purchasing the automotive equivalent of a penalty box-a crude implement that offered nothing in the way of style, comfort, or, (gasp!) fun at the wheel.
Ford has been here before-remember the Aspire from the 1990′s? Of course not. This time around, North American buyers are now getting a taste of the Fords we have longed for from Europe. The Fiesta is a true global car, and this is good news. Ford has been building exceptional small cars for years, they just haven’t been selling them here. All that changes with the Fiesta. How does the tiniest Ford fare in this growing market? Read on!
One of the drawbacks of subcompacts of the past was styling. Your choices were like picking a refrigerator based on looks. A car purchase, regardless of your budget, is and should be an emotional one, and Ford decided not to fashion the Fiesta after an appliance. Instead, we have a fun, funky shape that will surely resonate with the young, hip demographic Ford is hoping the Fiesta will appeal to. A choice of eye-popping colors, including the Lime Squeeze Metallic our test car came in only adds to the appeal and funk factor of the Fiesta.
Ford did not skimp when it came to the interior either. The Fiesta delivers a thoughtful, quality interior, and the funk factor carries over from the exterior. The front seats are fairly comfortable, and I had plenty of room for my 6′ 1″ frame. The gauge cluster is simple and easy to read, and other controls are also straightforward in operation. While the surfaces you touch won’t be mistaken for a Lexus, there is nothing here that screams “bargain basement”.
All Fiestas share the same drivetrain-a 1.6L four, good for 120hp. Buyers have a choice of either a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch automatic. Our test car was equipped with the five-speed manual, which was a cinch to use. The Fiesta is a fun car to drive, and in some ways reminded me of my old MG-not much power, but a kick to scoot around town, and corners on rails. Would I pick a Fiesta for an out of state trip though? Not likely. The pep that you get around town is lost when you need to make a pass on the highway. The Fiesta boasts EPA fuel economy ratings of 28/37 MPG for city and highway, respectively.
The Fiesta comes in two styles-a four door sedan or a four door hatchback. Our test car was the hatch, which is available in base SE and SES trim. Our car was the base SE. Equipped with Ford’s Sync multimedia voice command center with turn by turn navigation, upgraded stereo, cruise control, 15″ alloys and satellite radio, our sticker price came to $17, 120USD.
While the Fiesta is a fun and frugal car, it is not without fault. A typical GPS navigation is not available. Rear seat space is pretty tight, and with the seats up, cargo space is unimpressive. The Nissan Versa, which competes directly with the Fiesta, offers far greater utility. The trade-off comes to style, and personal preference-Ford sacrificed space for style, while Nissan opted for a plain wrapper for maximum utility. I’d have a tough time recommending the Fiesta to a small family of three unless they had a larger car.
Ideally, the Fiesta is best suited for a young urban dweller, and it comes highly recommended by The Garage. While the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit trump the Fiesta for outright interior and cargo space, buyers seeking some fun, funk, and style would be well served to give the Fiesta a serious look.