Strengths and weaknesses:
- fuel economy
- so-so acceleration
- a bit pricey at this trim level
Fiesta puts on its party dress for a younger crowd
"Fiesta has such a modern shape that it appeals to younger buyers anyway - both girls and guys - without the need for gimmickry."
The first thing you notice about our 2012 Ford Fiesta test car is the colour. It’s red. Oh, man, is it red. One of the reddest reds I’ve seen on an automobile in a long time.
And not just red on the outside, but on the inside as well - seats, door panels, steering wheel and control panel - all trimmed with black.
The other thing that’s immediately noticeable is the wild graphics applied to the car’s flanks. Ford calls this a “graphic tattoo” and I’m not sure I’d spend $500 for something I can’t quite decipher. Especially when, combined with the Race Red paint job, it elicits comments such as:
“Driving your daughter’s car today?” And, “Nice wheels - for a girl!”
I’m not sure these are the reactions Ford stylists had hoped for.
The thing is: Fiesta has such a modern shape that it appeals to younger buyers anyway - both girls and guys - without the need for gimmickry.
In a subcompact market segment crowded with excellent front-wheel-drive offerings, Fiesta is one of the best. Our test car is the popular five-door hatchback that starts at $13,999 (it’s also available as a four-door sedan for the same buy-in). But our tester is a top-of-the-line SES, loaded with $4,850 worth of options to bring its MSRP to $23,849.
And even without the extras it’s already packed with good stuff including cruise, air conditioning, auto-dimming rearview mirror, capless fuel filler, ABS, electronic stability control and Ford’s SYNC voice-activated connectivity system.
The only engine available is a 1.6-litre Duratec inline “four” with either a six-speed stick or optional six-speed automatic. There’s not much difference in fuel economy, and with the automatic, Fiesta can deliver 0-100 km/h acceleration in 10.7 seconds. Passing from 80-120 km/h takes 9.2 seconds.
The speed-sensitive electric power steering is quick and precise, making Fiesta nimble in traffic with a tight turning circle. On the highway, it has no trouble keeping up with traffic in the fast lane and delivers a quiet ride. About all you hear in the well insulated cabin is tire noise.
The six-speed automatic wants to rush through the first few gears - a fuel economy measure, I’m sure - but then takes its own sweet time shifting into high. Shifts, however, are smooth and Fiesta’s lack of low-end torque isn’t as noticeable with the automatic as it is with the stick.
The manually operated front buckets are supportive, but only the driver gets a flip-down centre armrest. Instrumentation is sparse - just speedometer, tach and fuel gauge - but of more importance to younger buyers is Ford’s voice activated SYNC connectivity system which is activated by a button on the steering wheel. It provides hands-free cell phone use and access to your digital music library, with information visible on a six-inch LCD screen. The 80-watt, six-speaker premium sound system that’s part of the SES package also provides a six-month prepaid subscription to Sirius satellite radio.
Luggage space is easily accessed through the rear hatch and can accommodate 435 litres behind the rear seats.
With standard features such as power windows/locks/heated mirrors, tire-pressure monitoring system, seven air bags and push-button ignition, even the base Fiesta hatchback feels like a premium small car. But none of this should come as a surprise, because when it made its debut in 2011 Fiesta was named Best Small Car under $21,000 by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
Fiesta is one of the vehicles that have led Ford to the top of the heap in Canada and sales show no sign of slowing down. In fact, June 2012 was the best month ever for this excellent small car that appeals to so many people in so many ways.
2012 Ford Fiesta
Trim level: SES
As tested before taxes: $23,849
Options on test car: Premium interior pkg ($1,400) inc.: leather seats and leather/aluminum steering wheel; automatic transmission ($1,250); premium exterior package includes 16-inch alloy wheels, decklid package and LED front marker lamps ($800); graphic tattoo ($500); intelligent access ($500); remote starter package ($300); block heater ($100)
Engine/transmission: 1.6L 4-cyl./ 6-spd automatic
Power/torque: 120 hp/112 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (45L)
Fuel economy ratings: 6.9 L/100km city; 5.1 L/100km highway
Observed fuel economy: 6.1 L/100km over 655km
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Sonic; Fiat 500; Honda Fit; Hyundai Accent; Kia Rio; Mazda2; Nissan Versa; Toyota Yaris