Tag Archives: Audi

Introducing The New Karen Federmobile: 2001 Audi A6

2001 Audi A6After talking for what seems like forever about getting Karen a different vehicle, the time has finally come: The new Karen Federmobile is a 2001 Audi A6.

Now, some of you may be thinking to yourselves, “Gee that Audi looks familiar.” You would be right. This was my grandmother’s (Nonnie’s) car. To some, it is the Queen Betty on land (the deck boat at the cabin is known as The Queen Betty on the water).

Simply put, this car is special for many reasons. My grandmother loved this car. I’ll never forget the day her, my uncle, my father, and I were in the Audi dealership in Fargo placing the order. At one point there was a conversation that went something like this:

Nonnie: Joel dear, don’t you think the color combination is gorgeous?

Me: Nonnie, the interior color is too light, and it’s going to be a nightmare to keep clean. Also, that exterior color is going to be awful to maintain. Do you realize it’s going to be difficult to find someone who loves this color combination someday when we have to sell this car when you pass away?! Don’t do this to us.

Nonnie: Nonsense, this is just gorgeous. I love it. You’ll see, it’ll be terrific.

I will never ever forget this interaction, or the rest of the memorable quotes during the buying process.

2001 Audi A6

The exterior of this A6 is finished in Ming Blue Pearl Effect while the interior features Vanilla and Royal Blue. It’s definitely unique, and frankly, I do think it’s a sharp looking car in the right light.

Under the hood is a 4.2-liter V8 connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. The car is surefooted through all forms of weather thanks to Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

The car currently sits with about 86,000 miles on the odometer. Most of those are highway miles put on early in the car’s life, as my grandmother drove from Fargo, North Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota to see us, her grandchildren.

Since the car’s been in the family since day one, I happen to have all the service records, manuals, and even the window sticker. Though I will say the most treasured piece that comes with the car is the original brochure from the Audi dealership. It has my grandmother’s notes scribbled throughout the book as she went through the ordering process.

Ironically, both the first owner and second owner of this car have the name Mrs. Feder, though I wouldn’t advise calling Karen, Mrs. Feder.

I know just how much my grandmother loved this car, and I know how happy it would make her to see Karen driving it.

We will remember my grandmother long after we end up selling this A6, but for now, it’s yet another way we are able to keep a small part of her in our daily lives.

The Search Is On – Looking For The Next Federmobile

As some of you know, I sold my Jeep. Funny thing is, when I put it up for sale no decision had been made on its replacement. Now that the dust has settled and my Jeep will be going to its new owners this weekend, it is time to get serious about what my next vehicle will be.

Over the past three weeks I have narrowed the choices down. Some were impractical, while some were going to just be money pits. In the end some clear winners have emerged – unfortunately they are all so different and I am having trouble deciding. Each choice has an upside and of course, like everything else, a downside. Lets get right to it. Read More…

2011 Detroit Auto Show: The Good, The Great, The Sad

While Detroit has been down in the dumps for a while, this years auto show definitely shows things might be back on track in the D. Of course it had to snow while everyone was in town, but it gave those from the warmer climates a chance to see what us snow belt state peeps live through on a daily basis.

Some of you will remember that last year I wanted to differentiate myself. I started tweeting pictures of cars with the models and tagged them as #EyeCandy. This quickly became a hot topic. A few of my followers mentioned this year that I was not really tweeting any #EyeCandy and asked why not. The simple answer, there wasn’t any. Few booths had the babes that were in attendance last year. Though Chrysler group and Ferrari still pulled through.

But lets get down the to the product. The new Chrysler 300 looks terrific. In reality, many wondered when they saw the pictures if it can recapture the market that the 300 once had in 2005. Upon seeing the car in real life, I am happy to report that it looks much better in person. The interior really does deliver on the promise that the 300 made back in 2005. American luxury. From the great new Pentastar V6, to the growling Hemi V8 in the 300C, this is American luxury in a rear-wheel drive car.

Another car I was anxious to see in real life was the new Chevrolet Sonic. The Sonic is Chevrolet’s new B-Segment car which will take on the likes of the new Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and many others. I have to say, while I think the new Sonic is a home run from a styling perspective, I can see how many will not. It will be either a love it or hate it vehicle. From the exposed barrel headlights to the ridiculously short rear overhang and really long front overhang, the styling is nothing short of eye catching. The interior gauge cluster is also interesting, as they actually put into the production model the Aveo RS concept’s gauge cluster. With a racing like analogue tachometer and a digital speedometer, the gauge cluster is more reminiscent of a race car or motorcycle than that of a sub-compact car. Going on sale later this year I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and see how the driving dynamics compare to the competition.

The new A6 has already won a design award without even leaving the show floor. In my opinion the new A6 takes everything that is right with the new A8 and A4 while dropping everything that is wrong with them. Smashing all the good together to make a great looking Audi. The design language has really come together for this car. The interior is terrific and the exterior is eye catching. The optional LED headlights are very intricately designed when inspecting them up close. You will see the new A6 on the road later this year.

I’m not going to really cover the CTS-V Coupe race car but I wanted to make mention of it. Two words come to mind when you walked past it on the turntable, menacing and awesome. Ok, moving on.

Toyota has finally unveiled a larger Prius. The model is called the Prius V. This is especially confusing to some since the regular Prius has trim level packages that are in roman numerals. Right now if you go buy a Prius in the top trim level you are buying a Prius V. Wait, that can’t make sense. So when you buy a top trim level Prius V will you be buying a Prius V V? This is clearly not well thought out. I wonder if Toyota realizes this yet. Maybe someone should send them a note. Regardless, I heard many people comment on how the Prius V rear end has a lot of Honda Fit in it. I can see that. The front, well it looks like a third generation Prius with a few slight tweaks. You’ll still know it’s a Prius. You will see the people mover Prius at a dealership near you in the Summer.

Ah the Honda Civic Concept. Honda waltzed Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy on stage to talk about the new Civic Concept. Here’s the problem, either Wentz was drunk or he really could care less about being there. He enthusiasm was worse than the new Civic’s styling. He barely stumbled through his words off the teleprompter. Note to Honda: make sure your spokesperson is somewhat excited about your luke warm product.

But getting back to that product, the new Civic Concept looks as if a new Odyssey and the current generation Civic got it on in the back room. That, or a designer of the current Civic got wasted one night, and just took the current Civics lines and tweaked them a little. For a mid-cycle refresh, I am not sure how this will be competitive until 2016 with new competition from Hyundai, Ford and Chevrolet. We will have to wait and see when the new Civic comes out, but I am not holding my breath.

Mercedes had its SLS E-Cell electric car on display. In a word it is blinding. The paint job on this car can literally sear your retinas. Beyond the paint job, it looks fairly identical on the outside to the current SLS. The interior changes a little as most of the gauges and center stack are now LCD screens. This car will go into production, but if you have to ask range or price, you can’t afford it.

I don’t really want to spend much time on the Passat as I’m not sure it deserves it. I’ll reserve final judgement until I drive one. Until then, I’ll say this, Volkswagen is going downmarket to sell more cars. Is that really a good idea? Why alienate all your current customers. People that buy current Passats pay more because they expect to get better quality materials. Cheapening the car for a lower base price is going to hurt your brand image. This is no longer just German engineering, it is German engineering to a price point.

While I skipped Porsches press conference to eat breakfast at my hotel (it was at 6:30 AM), I will say looking at the car in person, it is stunning. Seeing that huge flywheel in the passenger seat, yea. This is how you build a hybrid. It is good to see Porsche looking at new technology for racing. If this car does go into the racing circuit it could change the game. With less fuel stops needed and more power on tap for instant bursts, it could be a whole new era of racing.

At the end of the day I was exhausted. Most journalists were up at 5 AM and didn’t leave the show floor till nearly 8 PM. I ran to nearly every press conference and went through approximately 6,600 milliamps of battery power for my iPhone4. It was a good show with some great product. Not everything was great, but it was a good to see where each automaker is going in 2011.


Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations are being provided by General Motors

Review – 2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD: The CUV Sporting the Most Flair

Kia isn’t known for its style or design. Kia’s biggest claim to fame is its 10 year/100,000 mile warranty. Well, that was until recently. When Kia hired ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer, suddenly they had style and dare I say, flair.

This new third generation Sportage is so vastly different in almost every way from its predecessors, that it’s amazing that they sport the same name.

The exterior of the new Sportage looks like it fell out of the awesome tree and hit every branch on its way down. Beginning in the front, Sportage sports Kia’s new signature grill, flanked by swept back headlights. The headlights on upper trim models (like this EX) each have a strip of LED eye liner. Chrome trim above the fog lights finishes off the front end.

The sides have sculpting near the bottom of the doors while a character line runs beneath the window sills into the rear tail lights. Door handles and window sills are trimmed in chrome and the roof rails are covered in a with a satin metal-like finish. The side mirrors also feature LED repeaters, which is a nice touch in this class.

Around back the rear is very stylized, with what can only be described as a bubble butt. The rear view almost looks like an alien scowling at you, especially at night. The rear tail lights feature LED lighting.

With the rear window being somewhat small and the large C-pillars being kind of large, it makes for limited rearward visibility. It is clear that style played a larger role than function when it came to the exterior design – the exterior is probably the best looking exterior of any compact CUV on the market currently.

The interior is also stylized, though not to the extent the exterior is. The dash features two different finishes, one smooth and one textured, both are hard and have a low sheen to them.

The center console has a upward slant to it and it rises to meet the dashboard. The climate controls have a shiny piano black finish to them, but it is not distracting. I could imagine this plastic getting scratched easily over time though.

Both front seats were all day comfortable, with terrific seat heaters. Though only the front drivers seat features a cooling function. The front passenger will have to settle for only heat.

As I mentioned on the exterior, visibility is somewhat limited by the rear design. The C-pillars are quite large and the back glass is quite small. Further enhancing the problem are the somewhat large A-pillars in the front. While not as large as some of the competition, they are still large enough to cause some visibility issues. As with the current trend, the belt line on the Sportage is high, so resting your elbow on the window sill while driving is somewhat uncomfortable. The design also cuts into rear seat headroom. Taller passengers will need to sit up front.

Like the exterior, I found the interior to be a huge win. Button placement was all within arms reach and everything was clearly labeled. My only major gripe would be the style over function of some of the design characteristics.

Currently the new Sportage features one engine  2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that pumps out 176 horsepower and 168 pound-feet to either the front or all four wheels. The power is routed through a six speed automatic transmission that has manual shift capabilities. The Sportage EX I was in came equipped with all-wheel drive and an electronic locking differential. The current powertrain combined with all-wheel drive is rated at 21/28 mpg, and I saw an average of 19 mpg in mixed suburban driving.

As with the new Sorento, I found the ride in the Sportage to be surprisingly stiff. While I can appreciate a stiff ride, over bumpy roads the suspension can feel jittery at times. Also, the steering is light when at parking lots speeds but firms up a little too much once underway.

While I had the Sportage, Minneapolis was whacked with the largest blizzard we have had in over ten years. I drove the Sportage out into the blizzard and must say I was highly impressed. I did not get stuck once. With over 20 inches of snow in less than 24 hours, I drove this Sportage through worse road conditions than almost any owner will ever drive through. The 18″ wheels with Hankook tires where very impressive and the stability control kept everything in line. I did lock the all-wheel drive a few times, though ground clearance did help as well. I am sure the cold and blizzard driving affected my gas mileage.

The EX AWD is currently the top trim model of the Sportage model. This Sportage featured both the Navigation/Premium Audio package as well as the Premium Package with Leather. Combined with these options and destination, the total price on this Sportage was $29,990.

The Sportage lands in a crowded market. The new Chevrolet Equinox is very competitive, and the Honda CR-V along with the Toyota RAV4 are both segment leaders. So is the new little Sportage finally ready to sell on more than price? The answer is absolutely. With more style, or flair if you will, than nearly all the competition, this Kia is ready to finally sell on design and features rather than a warranty and low price.

Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by Kia

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 33: “Take Your Top Off Episode”

Episode 33 starts with introducing this weeks guest Nick Salvatore from SpeedSportLife.  Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Porsche Cayenne and 1967 Ford Mustang I drove since the last recording. We also heard about the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS and Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec Nick was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • NADA picks vehicles with best cost of ownership (Link)
  • Nissan vs. Hyundai – Who is going to be the #2 Asian Automaker (Link)

This week we continue with the newer segment called car spotting.  Justin spotted a Chevrolet Corvair.  Nick saw a Alfa 159 Wagon when in Europe and his new Glut Orange Audi S5.

Next came our main topic which was discussing ownership “stigma” or stereotypes that go with certain convertibles.  We also hit on some positives/negatives along with reliability, and cost of ownership. (Link)
Last we plug our respective blogs, SpeedSportLifeCheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Another Unique Audi S5 Hit’s the States: Guard Your Children

Hey remember Jack Baruth’s Porsche lime green Audi S5?  No?!  Here’s a reminder.  Well that was a unique whip and he sold it *insert sad face here*.  Regardless Nick Salvatore from SpeedSportLife just purchased this Audi S5 in Glut Orange.  This vehicle was part of the Audi Exclusive program, the same program that Jack’s car was ordered through.  This car is Glut Orange with a black interior.  The car is located in Texas (quick someone alert the troopers).  Nick already has plenty of upgrades both on the way and some arrived before the car even arrived.  The bottom line?  There are two very bright citrus colored Audi S5’s in this country.

pPhotography- Zerin Dube

Review – 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Ecoboost: Is This What Lincoln Should Be?

If you asked me about Lincoln around five years ago, I would have said “Town Car what?”  Yes, the Navigator hit it big during the large SUV boom and the LS was an interesting car, but Lincoln has not revisited those old glory days in a while. And when I say a while, I am talking long before I was born.

Now,they are in the midst of what I would almost call a rebirth – or a reboot, if you will.  They are trying to build a brand identity and bring the team together.  So how does the MKT play a role in that?  Is this what Lincoln should be?  Lets find out.

Exterior

As I mentioned above, Lincoln is rebuilding brand identity.  There is no question the exterior of the MKT is polarizing.  Some will like it, some will not – few will be indifferent to it.  When the MKT first rolled up, I was on the fence but leaning towards liking it.  After spending a week with it, (are you sitting down for this?) in my opinion this is exactly how a Lincoln should look.  The front is bold, with a strong crease running up from the Lincoln emblem on the front clip into the hood.

The large (read huge) dual-winged grille sits on both sides of the Lincoln emblem, and two sculpted character lines run from the front fenders into the side of the MKT.  There is also slight sculpting down near the bottom of the doors to bring the sides in a bit.  I even like the window line dip on the side near the rear.  The rear features large light pipes that make up a big rear light.  It looks terrific and really unique at night.  For me the exterior is a huge win.


Interior

The interior in the MKT again makes a strong statement.  The perforated leather is thick and feels of good quality.  The seats are road trip comfy and are both heated and cooled (a great feature).  The touch screen navigation/climate control/infotainment/etc system worked quite well and never appeared washed out by sunlight.  Physical buttons get you around to the function screens you want quickly, and you then manage the details via the touch screen.  It was an easy system to learn and operate quickly, although it does lock you out of certain navigation functions while driving.

The THX sound system simply rocked! Everyone seems to agree this is one of the finer sound systems in the industry offered by an OEM.  With HD radio and Sirius satellite radio available, you have some great choices on board.  Lets also not forget about the Microsoft Sync system, which paired with my iPhone 3Gs seamlessly and operated easily.

The rear had the flowing center console option with a small fridge/freezer in between the rear buckets.  The third row was power-operated and folded flat when not in use.  The interior materials were first class all around.  Everything was soft touch with a nice finish, while all plasticsl felt of high quality.


Powertrain and Driving Impressions

This MKT was equipped with the (awesome) 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine, which pumps out 355 horsepower and 350 pound feet of torque to all four wheels.  The power goes through a one-choice six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.  The bottom line?  This thing is a rocket ship for its size.  Seriously, it is just silly! The torque curve is flat from 800 rpm to 5250 rpm.  That is nearly the entire power band.  That is thanks to the twin-turbo direct-injection set up on the V-6.  Essentially the concept is V-6 fuel economy with V-8 power.  Bravo!  The transmission actually played nice and I had no gripes with the programming.

The MKT Ecoboost rode on 20″ wheels and it can actually handle better then you would expect a vehicle of its size to handle.  The steering is light but not overly so.  The adaptive cruise control worked terrific on the highway all the way up north and the active park assist worked as advertised (though a little creepy the first time you do use it, and the second).

The EcoBoost engine is completely worth the $3,005 price.  The MKT with all-wheel drive and EcoBoost is rated at 16/21.  During my week with MKT, I averaged 17.2 in a mix of city and suburb highway driving.  That was without really trying to achieve the best mileage possible.  On the open road loaded down with four adults and the rear packed with gear, I averaged 21.2 with the cruise control set at 77 mph.  Neither of those numbers are bad at all.  I would call those good considering the MKT has three rows and weighs quite a bit.

Gripes? Well, the A-pillars are quite large.  I am not sure what it is with this recent trend, but it is almost a safety hazard on some vehicles.  Also that touch screen system I mentioned earlier – it had a melt down.  I am talking a 13-year old girl tantrum melt down.

I started the MKT after leaving it in the sun for four hours.  It was approximately 92 degrees outside.  Upon entering the car, I went to input a destination into the navigation system.  The entire screen/system froze up.  After restarting the vehicle and realizing that was not going to fix it, I had no choice but to drive using my iPhone as my navigation.  I was going to be late for a meeting.  About five minutes into the drive the screen changed to a inform me a system fault has been detected and I would have limited functionality of the screen.  Terrific.

It also informed me I should head to my dealership.  Luckily for me, my appointment was at a client that happened to be an auto repair shop.  They pulled codes and found the yaw control sensor and something to do with the cruise control sensors had both faulted.  After resetting the sensors, we could not get the system to malfunction again.  I will note that Ford reached out immediately to try and resolve the problem, without me prompting them or making contact, Seeing as I only had the vehicle for a week and cannot fully determine what happened or how it was caused, I am saying it was a fluke. However, it did happen and I wanted to note that incident.

The MKT I was in was pretty much fully loaded.  The total sticker price rang in at $56,980,which included $7,780 in options.  The bottom line is this segment (like many of the luxury segments now) is packed with great options.  I would put the MKT right next to the Audi Q7 TDI (along with other competitors) and say drive both.

They are very different vehicles both in personality and execution.  The Lincoln MKT is most definitely a winner.  You would be missing out if you did not consider it when purchasing a vehicle in this segment.  I truly believe this is what a Lincoln should be.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Ford

Cars & Café – August 7, 2010

Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

Another month, another gathering of man and machine.  Of course I speak of Cars & Café, out at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.  This month promised, as usual, to be eventful.  I woke up a little early (4:40 am), as I did poor planning.  I had not washed the 300ZX (note to self: next month wash the 300ZX before the morning of Cars & Café). So, I washed the 300ZX and popped off the T-Tops.

As I was cruising out West to meet up with my buddy in his S2000, I saw black sky in front of me – then lightning  – and then I saw a car come over the hill with windshield wipers on (this was not going well).  I hit the gas and made it to his garage with the 300ZX still clean and dry.  We ended up taking his daily driver and leaving the 300ZX and his S2000 there, as it started pouring down rain right after I pulled into the garage.

Upon arriving, it was clear the rain, which was at this point a nice steady rain coming down, had affecte turn out.  Nooooooooo I cried to the car gods.  Luckily some of the cooler rides still managed to show up.  As I was admiring a nice Ford F150 Lightning, I heard something loud pulling into the complex.

I turn to see a true hard core car guy (you would have to be) driving a Cobra in (remember no top) through the rain.  Two Dodge GLH Turbos sat next to each other, both in ridiculously good condition.  I also counted not one but two Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbos (I drooled a little).  Quite a few Acura NSX’s showed up, along with a Lexus IS-F.

Two BMW’s caught my eyes this month.  One was a early 90’s 540i manual white on black with only 28k on the odometer.  The kicker?  It is for sale and they are asking only $25k!

Someone buy that car or buy me that car!  There was also a mid 80’s M6 in fantastic condition that caught my eye., along with an early 2000’s black Audi S8 that is a regular at Cars & Café.  I just love that car!

So good story,  I am walking by the club house and hear tires squealing like a burn out.  I look around and am quite confused.  Suddenly I realize that the sound is coming from behind this building in the VIP section.  I go running through the crowd, and as I turn the corner I almost fall over.

This Lamborghini Miura owner clearly had put the car in reverse instead of first gear (as best I can tell from the situation).  The car had gone backwards off the cement and onto the pebbles directly below.  Part of  the car definitely was resting on the cement.  The tires were squealing and these two guys were pushing the back of the Miura trying to get it back onto the cement.  Finally after a few minutes they accomplished this task, but not before you could smell the clutch and tires.  It was quite a scene.

Also filed in the – ahem – interesting category, was the Toyota Camry Solara parked in the American muscle section.  Hey at least it was on dubs!  Sitting next to that was a Chrysler 300C.  Not just any Chrysler 300C, but one riding on 24’s – and wait – it gets better.

The person had welded extensions (eyebrows?) onto the leading edge of the hood.  You can still see where the person welded and sanded them.  They were not painted yet (I am assuming they are going to paint them….at least I hope so).  Let’s not forget the white Toyota Yaris hatch with lime green wheels.

Jensen

On the list of awesome cars I would include the RUF 911, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, and a Jensen that showed up.  The red GMC Typhoon that was for sale earlier this year was on hand, along with two Ford GT’s (they are Cars and Cafe regulars).  A new Lotus Evora made the trip, along with a Ford Mustang Shelby Super Snake.

One of the cleaner Oldsmobile 442’s I’ve seen was on site as well.  Obviously I have already mentioned the two Dodge GLH Turbo’s but I want to just mentioned them again in this section of awesome.  Last but not least was the regular BMW 200ti. It is a work in progress, but hot all the same.

One cool thing was this garage that had a Corvette Z06 in it.  Ok that car was nice but you know those bag chairs you take to soccer games and such?  Well they had one of those. and then they had a ginormous one that was literally super sized.  To get a idea of just how big it was they let me sit in it and I got a picture!

Overall the rain really put a damper on the attendance, or at least it felt that way.  With most of the people clearing out before 10 AM, it had to be one of the shortest Cars & Cafés I have attended yet.  Thankfully, the doughnut holes provided by Imola Motorsports stayed dry in the clubhouse.

Yes they were tasty,and yes I ate some.  Just for the record, doughnut holes always seems to taste better when they are delivered in a BMW M5.  I can not prove that, but that seems to be my experience.  Here’s hoping for a dry Cars & Café next month!

Review – 2011 Ford Fiesta: A Win For America

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?

Exterior

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.

Interior

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.

Powertrain

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

Are You Jack Baruth’s New Ride?

Mirko Reinhardt found this lime green Dancia Sandero.  This looks quite similar to the unique color of Porsche lime green found on Jack Baruth’s Audi S5.  The question instantly turns to is this Jack Baruth‘s new ride none of us know about?