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Jalopnik Ford Fiesta First Drive

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Jalopnik

Ford_Fiesta_Review_1.jpg

Want a small, cheap, fun-to-drive, economical, practical car? Right now there's not many choices at all and none if you want to buy American. The Ford Fiesta will change that. Earlier today we picked up this Europe-spec (or international-spec, depending on who from Ford you speak with) 2009 Ford Fiesta and spent a few hours tooling around New York. It's one of 100 being given away for 6-month loans as part of Ford's Fiesta Movement. All 100 were assembled in Europe and as such, it tells the temperature in Celsius and has some kind of sub-FM band along with normal 'merican FM. American sales of the Mexican-made Fiesta are scheduled to start early next year as a 2011 model and will be identically spec'ed to this one, complete with the 1.6-liter, 118 HP engine and European-tuned suspension. We'll even get the five-speed manual transmission.

That engine/transmission combination is good for 39.8 MPG (US) in the European cycle (expect a combined MPG figure in the mid 30s when it gets run through the EPA) and will hit 60 MPH from rest in 9.9 seconds, continuing on to a top speed of 120 MPH.

When Ray pulled up in the "Hot Magenta" Fiesta outside my Brooklyn apartment this morning it was almost shocking how much the Fiesta stood out on the street and not just because of the unfortunately-named red paint. European Fords have eschewed the recent Colonial trend of retro futurism in favor of something that's contemporarily futuristic. In a sea of SUVs and mid-size sedans, the Fiesta's incredibly small, and the crisp exterior makes it look like something from another planet or at least Europe.

2009 Ford Fiesta Interior

Climb into the surprisingly large interior and it doesn't feel like our idea of what a small car should be either. It feels spacious and even, dare I say it, luxurious, an effect created by the large glass house, good packaging and high-quality materials. Ours was clearly an optioned-up version with leather and a nice stereo, but even the base model will benefit from the solid, attractive dash, comfortable seats and room for four adults (five in a pinch). US Fiestas will also get Ford's industry-leading SYNC connectivity system.

Driving up the BQE to our favorite shooting location in Greenpoint, the small exterior size, responsive chassis and perky engine make moving through traffic easy. Small cars like this that don't compromise the driving experience in the name of cutting cost are incredibly empowering in traffic. Vision is good and you can work the gearbox to cut through small gaps in the split second that they open. The trucks, cabs and luxury cars just can't keep up. The Fiesta also rides well across the BQE's constant construction and does a pretty decent job of isolating wind and road noise.

While the Fiesta's official price hasn't yet been revealed, our sources tell us to expect a price point starting around $12,000 and moving into the Focus-overlapping $16,000 range. We'd guess the Fiesta we tested would sit near the top, but we're still shocked by how cheap it is; this design, this space, this luxury, this driving experience feels more expensive than $16,000.

It's hard to know which cars to compare the Fiesta directly to. The Versa, Yaris and xA are priced similarly, but fall into the traditional American small car trap of being pieces of crap. The Honda Fit is a comparable drive and has ridiculous amounts of space inside, but it's more expensive and not as luxurious. The lower end of Ford's US-spec Focus overlaps the upper end of the Fiesta's price range, but the Fiesta feels more expensive, not less.

For years nearly every auto journalist in this country has been calling for Ford to replace its partially lackluster US range with its world-beating European cars and now, first with this Fiesta, then with the next-generation Focus and Mondeo/Fusion, all new Fords will be built on global platforms. There, despite facing stiff competition, nearly every one of Ford's vehicles is a clear leader in its class. That's because the European arm sets out to build great cars. American Ford has finally acknowledged that it too can build great cars, by bringing design and engineering over from Europe. Sure, that's a somewhat convoluted approach, but if, like with this Fiesta, they can sell genuinely exciting vehicles at a more-than-competitive price point, we don't care how they do it, we just want them. Now.

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I want mine in that color.

I want mine in "hot MANgenta" like the Torana concept. Seriously, this would be a great car to use around town for errands.

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I want mine in that color.

yeah, it looks tremendous in that color.

i never noticed the chrome strip on the window before. Looks snazzy in that photo.

my usual complaint though, i'd really love to see more HP in the thing. the rest of the car looks A+.

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I just checked Ford's UK site, and the Fiesta is available in FIFTEEN colours over there. That's a fantastic range of hues... dare we hope to have so much choice for personalization when the snazzy little Ford comes stateside?
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I just checked Ford's UK site, and the Fiesta is available in FIFTEEN colours over there. That's a fantastic range of hues... dare we hope to have so much choice for personalization when the snazzy little Ford comes stateside?

Linkypoo

There are some great colors available. Oddly, I like white the most.

I hope we get the 3-door.

Edited by Satty
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The 3-door is by far the coolest bodystyle. That is why I am pissed at VW with their brilliant new Polo. Europe gets the good one, we get a little bloatmobile in the wrong bodystyle.
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The 3-door is by far the coolest bodystyle. That is why I am pissed at VW with their brilliant new Polo. Europe gets the good one, we get a little bloatmobile in the wrong bodystyle.

VW will learn when no one will buy their bloatware.

Ford deserves praise. Before Mullaly Ford was on dialysis and life support. He did shrink Ford's size but now it looks capable, if not out of the docks.

GM bring some unadulterated fun cars.

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I love this car in every single way. It's desirable AND affordable.

+1

This car might be a great daily driver. I hate to spend a lot of money on gas just driving to work, but I still want something that is stylish and enjoyable to drive. This car looks like it has hit the proper balance. The 5-door is the looker of the line (compared to the somewhat awkward looking sedan) in addition to being a nice blend of good looks and utility. I think Ford has a potential hit on its hands. Way to go, Ford!

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The 3-door is by far the coolest bodystyle. That is why I am pissed at VW with their brilliant new Polo. Europe gets the good one, we get a little bloatmobile in the wrong bodystyle.

I agree with you that Ford is making a mistake in not offering the 3-door here in the U.S. The Fiesta segment is dominated by young people who are purchasing their 1st ride. Even though 4 side doors are more practical, young people often times tend to view 2 side doors as sportier for some reason. I guess it gives them the impression that they are still piloting a sporty coupe type of vehicle. Ford's U.S. operations would definitely benefit by making all 3 bodystyles (3-door, 5-door, and sedan) available here.

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The 3 door is coming here last I heard.

I think I actually like the 5 door better :o

I agree that the 5-door is the best variant, but you know that there are some people who still think that "4 side doors = square". I remember thinking the same thing when I was buying my first car (which was my first and last 2 door car).

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Now if the damn Cruze would get a better powertrain (more power) we would have two EXCELLENT choices for a domestic small car.

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Now if the damn Cruze would get a better powertrain (more power) we would have two EXCELLENT choices for a domestic small car.

edmunds has a very positive writeup on the cruze right now.

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Now if the damn Cruze would get a better powertrain (more power) we would have two EXCELLENT choices for a domestic small car.

Except the Cruze competes with the Focus and the Fiesta competes with the Aveo. Of course it's no competition when you compare them to the Focus and Aveo.

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Except the Cruze competes with the Focus and the Fiesta competes with the Aveo. Of course it's no competition when you compare them to the Focus and Aveo.

True, but hopefully the Sparx is leaps and bounds over the Aveo.

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I'm pretty sure the Spark competes with the Smart. Therefore the next gen Aveo will continue to compete with the Fiesta. (Next gen Aveo = next year... Hopefully, stilll)

P.S. Never thought I'd be discussing a Chevy line up with such lame names.

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The 3-door is by far the coolest bodystyle. That is why I am pissed at VW with their brilliant new Polo. Europe gets the good one, we get a little bloatmobile in the wrong bodystyle.

I love the 3-door Fiesta, and I want mine in dark green. On Ford's UK site, I spec'ed mine to where I'd want it, and it would cost the same as my basic Golf V.

If VW was going to give us the real Polo, I'd drive it against the Fiesta to see which I'd prefer because the Fiesta is more exciting looking, but the Polo is more mature, less trendy which could possibly lead it to aging better.

Shame on VW for them giving us a car that's going to be basically the same size as the Golf. (I say this only because the U.S. designated "Polo" is going to be a bigger, squishier car.)

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I'm pretty sure the Spark competes with the Smart. Therefore the next gen Aveo will continue to compete with the Fiesta. (Next gen Aveo = next year... Hopefully, stilll)

P.S. Never thought I'd be discussing a Chevy line up with such lame names.

I don't feel the Spark or Fiesta competes with the Smart. When you are parking in the city, the difference between 104 inches and 142 inches is like the difference between a Suburban and a Cobalt to the rest of the US. Especially, when most cars have only 1 or 2 people riding along, that backseat and 36 inches is just not needed.

What we need is a Spark that stretches lengthwise to go from a Smart 2 seat format to a Aveo 4 seater at the push of a button.

Is that a a dent on the hood of the Fiesta, just above the Ford logo? It looks like someone slammed the hood too hard... or the hood is a bit flimsy.

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Reminds me of a Jelly Bean, Guess back to Reaganomics style of auto's.

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I HATE small cars. This thing looks awesome--like a complete blast to drive.

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