SAN FRANCISCO — Small?
Well, only if you’re talking segment.
’Cause if you’re talking space, features and feel, the new 2011 Ford Fiesta really doesn’t fall into the typical idea of what’s considered small.
Yeah I know, sounds like an ad, right? And if there’s one thing I hate in a car review, it’s a line that sounds like an ad pitch. But it’s kinda hard not to be sold on the Fiesta even if you’re not really into “small” cars. And this is coming from a guy who is 6’1” and around, uh…200 and something pounds. (lol)
Either way, it’s hard not to like the Fiesta.
SIZING IT UP
For starters, it looks cool and a lot different than the small car designs that have rolled out of American car companies in the past. Different in that it’s nothing like those vehicles you looked at as just a means of getting from point A to point B. You know, the kind of car that you never really worry about parking too close to another vehicle at the movie theater, just as long as there’s enough time to grab that popcorn before the flick starts.
Thought being, though you’d probably never admit it, you really don’t care if the car gets a scratch or not.
Well, the Fiesta changes that.
The car is available as either a four-door or five-door hatchback and was heavily influenced by European design. Key features include Ford’s new signature grille, a high beltline and a low sweeping roofline that gives it great road presence. Although the hatchback is definitely a lot more sportier than the four-door model.
The Fiesta, which has been selling in Europe and Asia since 2008, is available in nine cool colors like Bright Magenta, Lime Squeeze (featured above) and Blue Flame. It also offers buyers a choice of multiple graphics packages that can be used to personalize their cars.
Inside, the Fiesta features a number of “big” car features ranging from standard equipment to available options.
The instrument panel centerstack, the focal point of the new Fiesta interior, was designed to feel as useful and familiar as the keypad on a mobile phone. The vehicle features Ford SYNC technology, integrating a driver’s mobile phone with Fiesta’s onboard, voice-activated communications and entertainment system.
Interior features are a lot more premium than you’d expect in a “small” car when it comes to elements like the door knob and glove compartment. Some of the less seldom used touch points, like the driver and front passenger seat lever, feel a little flimsy. But the quality of key interior features that will likely endure the most wear and tear with the vehicle is impressive.
Seating surfaces are available in either cloth or leather surfaces, which typically isn’t an option for a car in this segment.
The Fiesta is pretty roomy as well for a “small” car.
Not that I’d try to pull off a five-hour road trip in the Fiesta with four other guys about my size. After all, there are a few parameters you have to adhere to when designing a small car and space is one of them, although I never felt like I was giving up much when driving or riding as a front passenger.
The interior design is also pretty innovative with some of the details like a cup holder that actually holds that small can of Red Bull. I can’t think of how many times I’ve bought Red Bull when driving and had to figure out somewhere to hold in place in the car opened because the standard cup holder won’t hold it.
The Fiesta also features Ford’s ambient lighting that features seven complementary colors – switchable among three levels of intensity – for interior accent lighting.
With a 1.6-liter DOHC I-4 engine with 120 horsepower and 112 ft.-lb. of torque, the Fiesta isn’t big on power. But it’s fun to drive, which I experienced testing the car on some of twists and turns of San Francisco’s hills and an autocross course Ford set up at Candlestick Park.
The car’s available in an automatic and standard manual transmission, which is definitely your best option if you want to experience a little bit more fun when driving the vehicle.
Chalk it up to a specially tuned suspension that gives the Fiesta a sporty, European driving feel.
Projected fuel economy is up to 40 miles per gallon highway.
The Fiesta’s quality is enhanced by the car’s level of quietness with a specially laminated windshield that helps to absorb and contain noise. Engine noise is subdued by a hood blanket, with enhanced door seals keeping wind noise minimized.
The Fiesta’s pricing starts just under $14,000.
Safety features include dual-stage first-row airbags, a class-exclusive driver’s knee airbag, side airbags and side curtain airbags. AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control is standard on Fiesta, as well as seat belt pretensioners and rear door child safety locks.
The model tested featured heated front seats, chrome beltline molding, passive keyless entry and start system and chrome deck molding. All together, there are more than 15 segment exclusive features found on the Fiesta.
It all kind of changes your idea of a “small” car, right?
Marcus Amick is a national automotive and lifestyle writer. He can be contacted at Marcus@Wheelside.com.
Sticker: $18,590 (model tested)
Fuel Economy: 29 City/38 Hwy
Available Heated Front Seats
Optional Leather Seats
Available SNYC Technology