world car built and sold in Europe, Asia and North America to amortize cost and keep prices down. High mileage, low price. MINUSES:
Fuel gauge moves awfully quick for such a high mileage rating. Interior cabin cramped, especially in back seat.
This is it, one of those long promised world cars to make the auto industry prosperous again because it basically is the same machine offering the same parts and components, only assembled and sold in different locations around the globe.
And while the formula is going to make the industry money, it is going to save consumers money because the one-car-fits-all countries philosophy would better amortize costs to keep the sticker price low for the masses.
world car offering at dealerships now is the 2011 model Fiesta
, basically the same car built and sold in Europe, Asia and North America (Mexico for the U.S. market).
It's a high mileage alternative to a premium priced gas/electric hybrid, and a machine for youth or those on a budget trying to conserve the weekly outlay for gas. Fiesta
's price range is an example of a blue light special for the auto industry, starting at $13,320 for the base 4-door S sedan and running up to $17,120 for the top of the line 4-door SES hatchback.
Lotta car for little money. Fiesta
isn't stripped to keep the sticker low. It comes fairly well equipped with the basic power equipment and essential audio system and climate control. And safety isn't shortchanged, with stability and traction control plus ABS brakes and side curtain airbags standard. Ford
also has a long laundry list of amenities consumers can add to spruce the car up and dealers can add to boost profits, such as heated leather seats, heated power mirrors, keyless entry and pushbutton start, remote start, hill start assist, and a new novelty, body graphics that Ford
calls tattoos that can be ordered and installed through dealers to customize and individualize your car.
Those goodies compliment the already standard Sync voice activated sound and entertainment system that also provides traffic reports and directions, capless fuel tank, blind spot mirrors, and tire pressure monitor.
Sync is aimed at youth who are tuned into fingertip controls, whether computer, phone, or car, and who consider a car yet another source of music. Fiesta
is available as a 4-door S, SE, or SEL sedan or 4-door SE or SES hatchback, and though about a foot shorter in length, the sportier looking hatchback runs several hundred dollars more than the sedan.
We tested the SEL sedan. Fiesta
is economy first and foremost, the reason for a 1.6 liter, 120 h.p. four cylinder under the hood. We previously tested some pre-production sedans at a Midwest Automotive Media Association rally with manual transmission, and now an actual production model sedan with the 6-speed automatic.
For those who enjoy driving, manual is the choice. For those who consider a car an appliance, opt for automatic. Ford
boasts that the special Power Shift automatic bases its shift points on engine and vehicle speed and the amount of foot pressure the driver exerts in order to maximize mileage.
The automatic's magic shifting prowess was to have earned a 40 m.p.g. highway rating from the government, but the test car mileage sticker read 29 m.p.g. city/38 m.p.g. highway (28/37 with 5-speed manual).
The reason for missing 40 m.p.g. highway? Ford
sent out the test car minus the SFE or super fuel economy package with deck lid spoiler, aero body panel air deflectors, and underbody air deflector shields, plus low rolling resistance radials. To get the SFE package ($695 on the sedan, $395 on the hatchback) you must first purchase the 6-speed automatic transmission at $1,070, which the test car did have.
Air deflectors minimize fuel robbing air drag and low rolling resistance radials employ stiff sidewalls to minimize flex and resist scrapping or scrubbing on the pavement, which negatively impacts mileage. But the side effect is stiffer ride.
With the SFE package Fiesta
is rated at 29 m.p.g. city/40 m.p.g. highway.
We found Fiesta
had better movement from the light with the 5-speed manual, a smooth shifting unit that squeezes the most performance out of the little engine. The automatic feels a bit tentative on a power take off.
A turbo boost would certainly provide some welcome power for Fiesta
without threatening its mileage rating. Whether manual or automatic, Fiesta
has spirit, but doesn't sizzle. Mileage takes precedence over muscle, whether 38 or 40 m.p.g. on the highway.
Singles or newly marrieds without a slew of kids will be better able to cope with cabin size than long time married empty nesters and those with kids of school age. Leg room is at a premium in the back seat and makes for tedious travel over long distance.
Trunk space is good and expands when second row seat backs are folded, but the seat backs fold from inside the cabin, not from the trunk. And unless front seat occupants are height challenged and have seats slipped far forward, you have to remove the head rests to get the rear seatbacks to fold without getting lodged against front seats. When folded, seat backs are higher than the trunk floor, so you have to balance any load slipped inside. Fiesta
is small and easy to park and garage.
While the base S sedan is the price leader and starts at $13,320, the SEL sedan we tested starts at a still reasonable $16,320. The 6-speed automatic was added for $1,070, but not the low rolling resistance radials.
A comfort package upgrade at $795 added heated front seats that are welcome in the snowbelt, plus keyless entry and push button start, an unusual feature on a subcompact economy car.
When it comes time for upgrades to this world car, we would hope Ford
considers a turbo boost to give the four cylinder more off the line and up the hill life, a healthy increase in rear seat leg room, and an upgraded rear seat back design so that when folded, the backs are flat with the cargo floor for easier loading and hauling.2011 Ford Fiesta sedan SEL Wheelbase:
98 inches Length:
173.6 inches Engine:
1.6 liter, 120 h.p., four cylinder. Transmission:
6-speed automatic. Mileage:
19 m.p.g. city/38 m.p.g. highway. Base price:
$16,320. Price as equipped:
Add $795 rapid spec package 301A with keyless entry and pushbutton start, chrome belt line moldings, decklid moldings, heated front row seats; $1,070 Power Shift 6-speed automatic; and $675 freight.