The Ford Fiesta has been all over the media for the last year and now that it is finally hitting dealers, consumers are eager to see if this new car really lives up to the hype. For many it is hard to believe that a small car could be as well equipped or come from Ford, but that is what the rebirth of the American automotive industry is supposed to be about. This time, Ford has really made a nice car, one that not only has the best option list in its class, but gets great mpgs while still having a naturally aspirated non-hybrid powertrain. So does it live up to the hype?

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

I drove a 2011 Ford Fiesta SES 4-door hatchback over the weekend and it left me with a couple of observations. First, some background; the SES is the top model package for the hatchback version of the new Fiesta and has a starting MSRP of about $17,120. I know what your thinking, you thought this was going to be a reasonably priced car. Well, it is, the base 4-door sedan “S” model starts at $13,320. What we have to remember is that Ford wants the Fiesta to be a well equipped small car with all the features you might find in a higher end car. The particular SES I drove had all the options including the SYNC, heated seats and Sirius satellite radio. It was also equipped with the new PowerShift dual-clutch automatic.

Getting down to the real business here—how the Fiesta drives—I can say that it is a pleasant and well-mannered car out on the road. With only 120 horsepower it isn’t a pocket rocket, but will get you up to speed and around town without fearing for your life. To boot, it will do this while getting 29-mpg in the city and 38-mpg on the highway. The automatic takes a little getting used to because you can definitely tell it is your father’s 4-speed (or 3-speed for that matter) automatic. The sensation is that it shifts very quickly and under normal loads doesn’t use as many revs. Mostly this is due to the dual clutch gearbox that allows the next gear to be engaged much quicker than the single clutch automatics we have been used to in small cars.

Something else you will notice about the Fiesta is that it has electric steering, which makes for a light, but accurate steering feel. For me personally, I like to have a little more weight to my steering, but the feeling of the Fiesta steering is comparable to the feel of other manufacturers’ units. The one thing we did notice is that the lock-to-lock turning circle didn’t seem as tight as we would have expected from such a small car. The Fiesta will turn curb-to-curb in 34.4 ft compared to the 2010 Toyota Yaris which accomplish it in 30.8 ft.

Bottom line—the Fiesta has a nice ride, lower than expected noise levels, the option for a lot of technology and several price points to fit a wide variety of budgets. The best news is, you won’t sacrifice power or performance for lower end models…in this car the efficiency is standard and the accessories are optional. Does it live up to the hype—this writer thinks it does.

 

Check out all our news on the New 2011 Ford Fiesta by clicking here.