All photos by Ford
I have been hearing and reading about the 2011 Ford Fiesta for so long now that I felt I knew the car before I stepped inside the cabin. Ford provided Bullz-Eye with a Lime Green Metallic 2011 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback with a manual transmission for our test drive, and I had a week to get to know it better.
I had high expectations considering this is an all new offering in North America from Ford. The media coverage has been off the charts so I was very curious to see how the Fiesta would measure up. When you first see the Fiesta, you realize this isn't just a filler in The Blue Oval's lineup, but a signal of what subcompact cars in America will look like in the future.
The 2011 Fiesta has a clean and aggressive looking front end that, quite frankly, surprised me a bit. When I took a hard look at the fascia and stance, I wondered if there were more positive surprises in store with this ride. I continued to check out the exterior of the vehicle and caught the 16" painted aluminum wheels staring at me and, I must say they, looked very sharp. The front driving lamps have a chrome bezel and look very stylish. It is the kind of detail I would expect in a larger, more expensive car. (We just aren't used to these things in subcompacts in the U.S...) I liked the overall look of the hatchback and the rear blended smoothly with the hyper-cool front end. The edgy styling sat well with me and will distinguish the Fiesta from its competitors.
The interior of the 2011 Fiesta SES Hatchback is funky, fresh and a refreshing change for this segment of the market. The dashboard is not right on top of you, but close enough that everything is well within reach. The climate control dial is very simple to use and right above that is Ford's SYNC voice-activated system. This is one of the areas where Ford is ahead of the competition, although I would have liked to see a navigation system in the Fiesta. I normally would expect the feature in a subcompact, but we're talking leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, Sirius satellite radio, push button start, ambient lighting and much more here. Oh, did I mention heated front seats and anti-theft engine immobilizer? The interior of the 2011 Fiesta takes subcompact cars to a whole new level.
The Fiesta we tested had a 1.6 liter Duratech 5-speed manual transmission. It didn't blow me away with any kind of power but I didn't expect that from the subcompact. There has been plenty of emphasis on gas mileage in this segment and, in mostly city driving, we averaged around 34 mpg. If you spend most of your time on the highway in the Fiesta, you can expect to hit the 40mpg mark – that is without a hybrid engine or electric surcharge!
The steering was very precise and handling around corners was much better than I have experienced in other subcompacts. The 5-speed had effortless shifting, again, much better than we've seen from more expensive nameplates.
I really enjoyed my time with the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Ford has not really been a player in the subcompact segment in the US. but with the success of the Focus and Fords overseas, the company made a smart move when they decided to bring the Fiesta to North America. Ford has been building great small cars around the world for years. It's high time that we in the U.S. and Canada get the chance to get behind the wheel. Kudos to Ford for also offering a hatchback in the Fiesta. The rest of the American automakers will learn the hard way that options for differing lifestyles will sell more cars.
With the vast improvement the Fiesta brings to Ford's subcompact lineup, you will notice a higher price point than with past Fords. The SES Hatchback starts at approximately $17,000. We'll leave it up to the consumer to decide whether it's a fair price considering the quality, superior gas mileage and options included.
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