The 2011 Ford Fiesta is a likeable compact – likeable for its gas mileage, spunkiness and some nice design features.
The five-door hatchback comes with a 1.6-liter engine and promises 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The five-speed manual I test drove has a friendly arrow indicator that notifies the driver when it’s most fuel efficient to shift gears. The gear shift itself was surprisingly light to the touch, and the vehicle wasn’t at all sheepish in acceleration, maneuverability or control. In short, I loved its spunk and found it a blast to drive.
And considering the size of the vehicle and the fact that it’s at the entry point of the market, I was amazed that there wasn’t jarring when it encountered potholes and pitted streets. Credit the MacPherson front suspension system and possibly something Ford calls its “active nibble control” to “detect and minimize undesirable rotational vibration” for giving this compact the ability to glide over rough terrain. In fact, a week later when I test drove a luxury vehicle with a $30,000 higher price tag I found myself remarking that the Fiesta did a better job in minimizing the bumps.
Initially I was excited about getting the updated version of one of the first cars I owned back in the early 1980s. I learned to drive a stick on a snazzy aqua blue boxy Fiesta. However, this time around I didn’t have a single nostalgic moment as the 2011 edition doesn’t resemble that vehicle in any form or fashion except its size. While the Ford Fiesta, which debuted in 1976, and has been available abroad for years, 2010 marked the return of the Fiesta to U.S. roadways.
The interior—said to fit five but three would be crammed in the back—features a LCD message center ideally placed directly in the driver’s line of sight. And although I didn’t think I would be dazzled by the light, I found the ambient lighting that softly illuminates the floor area, cup holders and the glove box area extremely appealing and contemporary. Driver or passenger can select from seven colors, including purple, red, green, blue and orange, and change at will.
A standard feature in the Fiesta that’s likely to be popular is the Sync voice-activated connectivity system that allows phone, MP3 player or other devices via USB to be connected and controlled hands free.
No need to worry about driving off leaving a gas cap behind, this Fiesta is designed with an “EasyFuel” capless gas tank. A small metal covering inside the opening of the gas tank pushes away when the fuel nozzle is inserted. Not that one might have to fill up as often. In a week’s worth of driving, I didn’t drop past the halfway point of a full tank.
Other standard features include push-button start, “dragon eye” driving lamps, ABS brakes, leather-wrapped steering wheel and six-speaker sound system.
The Fiesta model I tested was priced at $17,120 with $795 in options (heated seats, keyless entry and start, comfort package, perimeter alarm, etc.) and $180 for the candy red metallic finish and $715 for leather seats, bumping the price to $19,485.