Time for a Fiesta
The B-segment bar has just been raised
Ford revealed its Fiesta three and five-door hatches to the press at an “open house” on the eve of the Geneva show’s press days. Saying the Fiesta is an important car to Ford is an understatement. It will play a key role in making Ford Motor Company one company – a lean, efficient, profitable, international machine.
Ford of Europe fared well in 2007. Overall sales improved about about 100,000 units, market share improved, and only three million dollars stood in the way of a one billion dollar profit. John Fleming, Ford of Europe’s President and CEO, has big plans for 2008, releasing 20 new products. With the bar raised, Fiesta is expected to help continue that trend when production starts this fall.
Fiesta will be sold globally in different variations, but unfortunately, North American consumers must wait until 2010 for the opportunity to own this B-segment auto. When it arrives, Fiesta will be lighter but stronger than the last generation, just in time for battle against the Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa, to name but a few. It might be named Fiesta, but Ford is not messing around with this one. This car, despite the light-hearted name, has what it takes.
One of the latest recipients of Ford’s Kinetic design language, the Fiesta’s sleek lines will stand out in the subcompact crowd. Its family resemblance to the Mondeo, updated European Focus, and new Kuga crossover is clear. Fiesta’s grille, however, makes it unique from its stablemates. Fiesta’s door handles are integrated into its character line, which, similar to the Mazda2, follows the belt line through the rear hatch. The three-door is clearly sleeker than the five-door, but neither model will disappoint style aficionados. There is the slightest hint of Toyota Yaris in the rear doors, but Fiesta’s lines have more personality.
Fiesta’s interior is top-notch and will give the competition a run for its money. The driver’s position was favorable, the tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes any combination of positions possible. Ingress and egress was a breeze, thanks to wide-opening doors. Gauges are simple and easy to read. The flowing dash and mobile phone-inspired communication and radio controls stay true to the concept. Brushed aluminum on the center stack adds a pleasant contrast to the two-tone plastic. All interior controls have a high quality look and feel and are easily within the driver’s reach. They may look frightening to technophobes but are easy to navigate and understand. Fiesta will offer Bluetooth technology in their media platform.
Ford built Fiesta to seat five people. Both front and rear seats, sporting quality stitching, were comfortable and supportive. Three seat-belt fasteners are in the backseat, but this doesn’t mean that three average adults can fit comfortably. I was behind the driver’s seat when two adult males entered the backseat also. Now, I can generally fit in compact places with ease, but my shoulders were angled about 20 degrees with them, leaving me to grasp for the door handle. The rear is great for two adults, but three average-sized Americans will proably not fit.
Customers can expect a colorful palette, including the green and rose shown, to chose from when the Fiesta arrives. Sales goals have not been released yet, but Ford should not have a problem making their volume projections with this car, as long as they don’t get too flush with optimism. It marks not only a new direction for the Fiesta nameplate, but a new direction for the company globally, since the Fiesta has not been sold in the States, Ford’s biggest market, for decades. With technologies such as Bluetooth and push button engine start, strong powertrains and attractive styling, it is only a matter of time before North American customers notice what a great value the new Fiesta is.
Ford’s European slogan is, “Feel the Difference”, but with Fiesta, the public worldwide will see the difference also.
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