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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Fuel-efficient Ford Fiesta to get jump on competition

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Fuel-efficient Ford Fiesta to get jump on competition

BY MARK PHELAN

FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC

Ford's upcoming Fiesta subcompact will have fuel-economy bragging rights when it goes on sale this summer, but its triumph promises to be short-lived.

The most fuel-efficient Fiesta will score an EPA rating of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway. That beats other competitive subcompacts handily.

However, the bigger Chevrolet Cruze -- which has the interior space of a midsize sedan, although Chevy will market it as a compact -- will match the Fiesta's 40-m.p.g. highway rating when it goes on sale this fall, General Motors executives say.

The Fiesta will lead other subcompacts by a significant margin, however. The Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Mini Cooper, Nissan Versa, Scion XD and Toyota Yaris have EPA ratings of 27-29 m.p.g. in the city and 34-37 on the highway.

"It's great to have bragging rights," said Joe Phillippi, principal of AutoTrends Consulting, Short Hills, N.J. "Energy prices will go up and people are concerned about their budgets. Frugal is the new black."

The Fiesta could save its owners more than $100 a year in fuel costs compared with other subcompacts.

The most fuel-efficient Fiesta will have a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission and a new 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 120 horsepower. A dual-clutch transmission combines mechanical components of a manual transmission with electronic controls that change gears automatically, without the driver operating a clutch or moving the shifter.

Ford also will offer the Fiesta with a five-speed manual transmission. That model will have an EPA rating of 28 m.p.g. city and 37 highway. Fiesta prices will start at $13,995.

link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100517/BUSINESS01/5170322/1331/Fuel-efficient-Ford-Fiesta-to-get-jump-on-competition

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