Monday, May 30, 2011

Auto: 2011 Ford Fiesta SEL

Price aside, the Ford Fiesta sedan hits marks.

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED: $16,995 (base price: $16,995)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection

Displacement: 97 cu in, 1596 cc
Power (SAE net): 120 bhp @ 6350 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 112 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual

Wheelbase: 98.0 in Length: 173.6 in
Width: 67.8 in Height: 58.0 in
Curb weight: 2583 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 9.3 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 29.1
Street start, 5–60 mph: 9.8 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 17.0 sec @ 82 mph
Top speed (Drag Limited): 119 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 175 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
EPA city/highway driving: 28/37 mpg
C/D observed: 29 mpg

June 2010

One of the small but brilliant stars of the 2007 Frankfurt auto show was a three-door hatchback concept that looked like the automotive equivalent of a piranha—small but with a pretty fierce bite.

Ford called it the Verve, but it was clearly a tease for the next generation (number six) of the Fiesta. And when high fuel prices provoked a crescendo in U.S. subcompact sales, Ford decided to bring the Fiesta back to this market, its first appearance here since 1980 and also the company’s first North American subcompact since the unlamented departure of the Kia-supplied Aspire in 1998.

Our initial encounters with Euro-spec Fiesta five-doors, including a New York–to–Seattle drive, were positive. But this is the Fiesta that Ford sees as the volume-selling version for the U.S., a formal sedan assembled in Cuautitlán, Mexico.

Is disappointing too strong a word? The sedan—it will be offered only in North America and China—shares the hatchback styling as far as the A-pillars, with the addition of Ford’s U.S. three-bar grille. From there, however, it loses the five door’s sassiness, as well as the hatchback’s cargo versatility.

Something else that’s been lost—okay, diluted—is the Euro Fiesta’s performance. The rack-and-pinion steering is quick (2.5 turns lock-to-lock), and transient responses are brisk, but braking and skidpad numbers aren’t as good as those of the Euro five-door tested last year [September 2009].

Blame the tires—all-season Hankooks (195/50R-16) versus Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2s—as well as mass. Last September’s five-door weighed a lissome 2462 pounds. This sedan, which is 13.5 inches longer than the hatchback, weighs 2583.

Inevitably, mass also affects acceleration. Ford lists horsepower of the U.S. Fiesta’s 1.6-liter four as 120, two ponies more than the Euro version makes, but the sedan’s 0-to-60-mph (9.3 seconds) and quarter-mile (17.0 seconds at 82 mph) times were slower and would have been midpack in our most recent mighty-mite meshugas [“$15,000 Cheap Skates,” May 2006].

A six-speed gearbox would probably help. The top two gears in the Fiesta’s five-speed manual are pretty tall. (The Fiesta’s optional six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual may well outperform the manual.)
Aside from willing responses, the sedan’s virtues are a supple ride, supportive front seats (diminished by awkward seatback adjustment), a dashboard with a high-tech look (higher if it had a coolant gauge), a tilting and telescoping steering column, a ­sizable trunk (13 cubic feet, and rear seatbacks fold forward to expand capacity), ­satellite radio, and Ford’s Sync infotainment and ­communications system. Rear-seat space is tight, but a couple of adults can fit with cooperation from those up front, and there are hookups for child seats, enough airbags to cushion a ride over Niagara, and standard stability control.

Fuel economy should be a strong suit—the EPA forecasts 28 mpg city and 37 highway for the manual, 29 and 40, respectively, for the automatic—but, as usual, we underachieved: 29 mpg.

Though the U.S. product planners initially resisted, there will be a five-door Fiesta in Ford’s North American lineup. Fiesta prices start with a base four-door at $13,995 and culminate with the five-door SES at $17,795. Our well-equipped SEL sedan carried an MSRP of $16,995.

Will this be a little ambitious in the most price-sensitive of all segments? Even though the key competitors have yet to release their 2011 pricing, it’s safe to say that the Fiesta will be substantially more expensive than the Nissan Versa. And it’s also safe to say that we favor the hatchback. Ford’s conventional wisdom on this score—Americans don’t like hatchbacks—may be out of date. As evidence, consider the Nissan’s sales record with the Versa, one of the segment’s bestsellers: Over the last three full calendar years, Nissan sold 247,535 Versas, roughly two-thirds of them (165,404) in the more expensive hatchback body style.


Brake Type Pwr
Brake ABS System 4-Wheel
Brake ABS System (Second Line) N/A
Disc - Front (Yes or ) Yes
Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness 10.2 x -TBD- in
Drum - Rear (Yes or ) Yes
Rear Drum Diam x Width 7.9 x -TBD- in
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume 12.8 ft³
Cooling System
Total Cooling System Capacity 4.8 qts
Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F (Primary) N/A
Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps) N/A
Engine Order Code 99J
Engine Type Gas I4
Displacement 1.6L/97
Fuel System SMPI
SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM 120 @ 6350
SAE Net Torque @ RPM 112 @ 5000
Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 98.0 in
Length, Overall 173.6 in
Width, Max w/o mirrors 67.8 in
Height, Overall 58.0 in
Track Width, Front 57.7 in
Track Width, Rear 57.7 in
Min Ground Clearance N/A in
Liftover Height N/A in
Fuel Tank
Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx 16 gal
Aux Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx N/A gal
Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Volume 85.1 ft³
Front Head Room 39.1 in
Front Leg Room 42.2 in
Front Shoulder Room 52.7 in
Front Hip Room 50.6 in
Second Head Room 37.1 in
Second Leg Room 31.2 in
Second Shoulder Room 49.0 in
Second Hip Room 49.2 in
EPA Fuel Economy Est - Hwy 37 MPG
Cruising Range - City 448.00 mi
EPA Fuel Economy Est - City 28 MPG
Fuel Economy Est-Combined 32 MPG
Cruising Range - Hwy 592.00 mi
EPA MPG Equivalent - City N/A
EPA MPG Equivalent - Hwy N/A
EPA MPG Equivalent - Combined N/A
Battery Range N/A mi
Steering Type Pwr Rack & Pinion
Steering Ratio (:1), Overall 14.3
Lock to Lock Turns (Steering) N/A
Turning Diameter - Curb to Curb 34.4 ft
Turning Diameter - Wall to Wall N/A ft
Suspension Type - Front Independent
Suspension Type - Rear Twist Beam
Suspension Type - Front (Cont.) MacPherson Strut
Suspension Type - Rear (Cont.) w/Coil Springs
Shock Absorber Diameter - Front N/A mm
Shock Absorber Diameter - Rear N/A mm
Stabilizer Bar Diameter - Front 0.87 in
Front Tire Size P195/50R16
Rear Tire Size P195/50R16
Spare Tire Size Compact
Drivetrain Front-wheel drive
Trans Type 5
Trans Description Cont. Manual
First Gear Ratio (:1) 3.85
Second Gear Ratio (:1) 2.04
Third Gear Ratio (:1) 1.28
Fourth Gear Ratio (:1) 0.95
Fifth Gear Ratio (:1) 0.76
Reverse Ratio (:1) 3.61
Clutch Size N/A in
Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1) 4.07
EPA Classification Subcompact
EPA Greenhouse Gas Score 7
Weight Information
Base Curb Weight 2578 lbs
Front Wheel Size 16 x -TBD- in
Rear Wheel Size 16 x -TBD- in
Spare Wheel Size Compact in
Front Wheel Material Aluminum
Rear Wheel Material Aluminum
Spare Wheel Material Steel


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