Anyone that has been on the internet lately has probably heard of the Fiesta Movement. The car’s unique marketing has definitely stirred interest into a vehicle that has not been in the American market for quite a while. This small vehicle is a hit in Europe and many Americans have been requesting the vehicle. With the car finally here, the question is how much was lost in translation? Is the American Fiesta as good as the European version?
The exterior has not changed much from the European model. Gone are the normal fog lights and projector headlights. Instead, you have LED light pipes where the fog lights would normally go. The sedan version of the Fiesta also wears a chrome three bar grille instead of painted insert. The hatch back does not have the chrome three bar grille rather it sports a painted insert that is closer to the European models look. I think they are the same size and you could swap the painted insert in place of the chrome three bar setup if you wanted to. Personally, I like the look of the painted insert better. From the front fender to the rear quarter panel, a strong character line runs down the side of the car. While the headlights are up swept and unique, the tail lights wrap around the sides and are a basic non-offensive oval shape. The overall sedan is better looking then I thought it would be. Much better then the comparable Toyota Yaris.
The interior of the Fiesta is really close to the European counterpart. The gauges look very European while the radio controls are supposed to remind you of a cell phone. While I am not sure of that, there are definitely a lot of buttons in a tiny space. I found it easy to operate and the interface was clean. The small 4-inch display glowed red and was easy to read in all lighting conditions. The Microsoft SYNC system operated as advertised, and was really quite handy. One thing that is different from the European model is the climate control. No automatic climate control is offered, though it was extremely warm while the Fiesta was here and it always kept the interior nice and chilly. The seats were comfortable, with adequate side bolstering. I did find the seat bottoms a bit flat when driving on a road trip. The graining on all plastics was very nice and the seat fabric felt like great quality material. With a soft touch pad for the top half of the dash, if it doesn’t feel quality it certainly looks the part. Rear seat legroom is somewhat short, but if you are under six feet tall you will be OK. I am not sure an adult would enjoy a road trip back there, but it is doable. The steering wheel was the perfect size and the electric power steering had great feedback and on-center feel. At night the Fiesta I was in had “mood lighting” with seven different color options. My girlfriend settled on a color resembling teal for the week. If you find it distracting the lighting, can be turned off. Overall the interior is a huge win. Everything from ergonomics to style, the Fiesta fits the bill and then some.
The Fiesta comes standard with a 1.6 liter four cylinder engine pushing out 120 horsepower and 112 pound feet to the front wheels. That power goes through the standard five-speed manual or optional six-speed dual clutch dubbed PowerShift. Off the line ,the Fiesta is no rocket. In fact, it almost seems a little sluggish. Once you get revs a little higher the car starts to feel faster then it really is. Driving the car I always seemed to have a stupid grin on my face, even though I was not going that fast. The Fiesta I had was equipped with the five-speed manual. Personally, I liked the gearbox. It was fun with clean shifts. Though on the highway I will admit at times I longed for a sixth gear. Not because of engine drone or anything like that (engine and wind noise was in check), but because the car probably would have gotten better mileage. The five speed manual is rated at 29/38 while the six speed dual clutch is rated at 30/40 (with SFE package, 20/38 without SFE package). I averaged 29.9 mpg in the city during the week, which was good considering I was definitely not trying to get the best mileage. On the highway I managed to average only 34.5 mpg. It is worth noting I had the cruise control set at 77 mph on the highway trip. I can only assume going slower and or having another gear would have significantly increased that average.
So how much of the car was lost in translation? Frankly, not a ton. In fact some of the technical changes when coming across the pond made the car better. For instance, the addition of knee airbags gave the people up front more leg room. The car is a blast to drive and many people commented on how fun the car was. Everyone seemed to the like it. An Audi A6 owner commented on how great the car looked, both outside and inside. This car is a huge value and a win for America. If you look at the direct competition such as the Toyota Yaris, the Fiesta almost puts it to shame. The Fiesta SE I had was somewhat optioned with the Rapid Spec 203A package (nowhere near loaded) and had a sticker price of $15,990. That is without a question a value. I definitely would take the Fiesta over the Toyota Yaris. The Honda Fit has many tricks of its own, so it really depends on what your uses will be. With the Mazda2 coming, the Fiesta has a ton of competition in this segment. In the end, it has the goods to fight off the competition.
Photography- Alex Bellus
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Ford