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The 2011 Ford Fiesta Hatch SE
We hope to share some interesting insight about our week-long experience with this compact vehicle

Last week we had the privilege of test driving the 2011 Fiesta Hatch SE which was provided to us by Ford.  This subcompact features Ford's next-generation 1.6L 16-valve Duratec I4 engine.  The engine is pretty light on power, producing 120 hp @ 6350 rpm and 112 lb. feet of torque @ 5000 rpm.

The vehicle features a MacPherson strut front and twist-beam rear suspension. The vehicle features an electronic power-assisted steering (EPAS) system, which may turn off some auto enthusiasts, but Ford promises sporty handling will be preserved.

Riding in the Fiesta for a week, we traveled 366 miles, and used approximately 1 tank of gas.  That places our gas mileage for the 12 U.S. gallon (45 liter) tank at 30.5 mpg.  This is slightly below the EPA-rated 32 mpg, but it was likely due to the fact that much of our time on the highway was spent in stop-and-go and we were at times a bit aggressive in our engine use to test the vehicle's power.  Thus we wound up closer to the rated city mileage (28 mpg) than the rated highway mileage (37 mpg).

This is a good fuel economy performance, but falls short of hybrid engines such as the Ford Fusion hybrid or the Toyota Prius.  Of course the price of the Fiesta starts at a much lower price -- $13,320 MSRP for the base sedan Fiesta versus $23,050 for the base Toyota Prius.

The best thing about the Fiesta, in our minds, is the handling.  The car turns tightly and is capable of swift maneuvers.  It takes the curves beautifully.  The suspension allows you to "feel" the road's uneven character, without discomfort, offering the perfect blend of sport and comfort.

One important thing to bear in mind for those who haven't previously owned a subcompact, is that the class lacks power compared to larger compact and midsize sedans.  The Fiesta is slightly more powerful than two of its chief competitors -- the 117, hp 1.5L Honda Fit, or the 106 hp, 1.5L Toyota Yaris hatchback.  For those used to driving midsized sedans, the car will still feel underpowered, though.  It is also slightly less powerful than the 2009 Toyota Prius (134 combined hp), which we test-drove last year last year.

dual-clutch 6-speed option option is provided, which may help with power needs, by utilizing the engine's power a bit better and having a better gear distribution.  Our vehicle came with the base-level 5-speed transmission.

With our 5-speed we took the car up to 80 mph in the top-gear (see updates below)and under controlled highway conditions then floored the accelerator.  It took approximately 10-15 seconds in several trials to reach 90 mph.  Acceleration at the higher end of highway speeds was a crawl and felt painful and unnatural.  We could see this as being a problem if you wanted to pass vehicles on the highway, say to make an exit or something.  Of course, this is a problem that effects most of the cars in this class, so it's largely the nature of the beast.

And the Ford Fiesta is a pretty light vehicle -- 2,537 for the high speed hatch-back version -- so the lack of power isn't quite as glaring as some vehicles in its class.

If you can get past the power, the Fiesta offers a compelling experience.  Looks are highly subjective, but we felt that the Fiesta looks attractive.  Of numerous American automotive designs, the Fiesta is among the best in preserving the aggressive look of its concepts in the actual production model (versus vehicles like the Volt that featured bold concepts, which were transformed into more sedate production looks).

As mentioned, the handling and gas mileage are both pleasant experiences.  And we experienced little noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) during our rides -- another desirable factor.    To top it off, the interior is relatively spacious for a vehicle of this class.

Minor gripes about the interior include that the seats feel a little bit rigid/hard, which may turn off some (we found them sufficiently comfortable, though, and felt they fit with the "sporty" feel) and the storage space in the middle was limited.  For us the latter gripe was definitely the hard one to deal with, as we found ourselves using cup-holders as a place to hold your cell phone, etc. -- not exactly a desirable stowage situation.  We would have preferred a bit of recessed space between the center console.

Our version of the car had one more compelling positive, that's worth noting -- SYNC.  We were preoccupied with testing the vehicle's performance and weren't able to extensively test SYNC, but as we've previously stated, this is a pretty powerful tool if you want to make calls in-car or play music from your iPod or other USB device.

In all the 2011 Ford Fiesta is a vehicle well-suited for day-to-day commutes and chores, while offering a definite "fun-factor".  The sweet price point, inclusion of SYNC, and the strong gas mileage all help the vehicle overcome the inherent downside of subcompact vehicles -- power.  We feel this car -- like any one -- has its negatives.  But overall the 2011 Ford Fiesta Hatch SE is a compelling option in its class.

Ford's product page for the vehicle can be found here.

Update 1 -- Tues. September 28, 2010:
As some commenters pointed out, the key to accelerating with a lower powered manual like the Fiesta is to put it in a higher gear.  Of course this will spike your RPMs quite high -- probably above 4k.  But if you have to speed up, this is the obvious way to do it, albeit at the cost of fuel efficiency. 

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Why underpowered?
By theagentsmith on 9/28/2010 9:39:26 AM , Rating: 3
I think 120HP for a car that weighs about 1 ton is plentiful.
I have a 2.2 diesel PT Cruiser with 121HP and while it's not blazing fast, it's perfectly fine even on highways even if it weighs more than 1.6 tons.
Please notice that in most US states the speed limit is 70-75 mph, while here in Italy it's often 80 mph, and here there are a lot of car much underpowered than this Fiesta.
European Fiestas have a HP range from 60 to 120!
I don't understand why Americans love to have cars with a lot of HP with speed limits so strict. While I agree it's fun to get sticked to the seat while accelerating, it's not fun for the environment (hence why better MPG is so important nowadays) and for the wallet.
1 gallon = 3.78 liters x 1.4 euros per liter = 5.38 euros which means a gallon costs a whoppy 7.24 dollars!
A gallon of diesel costs 6 dollars that's why diesel engine is so popular in the EU :)

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why underpowered?
By AssBall on 9/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/28/2010 12:29:58 PM , Rating: 3
Are you seriously making fun of a guy's son who has to sleep in an iron lung? Are you going to make fun of his other son who died at 22 or 23 from a similar condition as well? It is a miracle his son has lived as long as he has with the condition he has.

And yes, he has a large truck so that if he ever has to go somewhere with his son, the iron lung has to come along. Say, a hurricane evacuation. He also has a several hundred pound wheel chair lift on the back of the truck. You need to make fun of that as well to be consistent.

Christ you're an ass.

RE: Why underpowered?
By Schrag4 on 9/28/2010 2:06:07 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, but HIS son doesn't sleep in an iron lung, so of course nobody would every need and therefore nobody should be allowed to own large trucks.

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/28/2010 2:21:31 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much.

The fact is that if the guys reason for owning a large truck is solely because he wants to, at least in the United States, that is, or at least should be, a valid reason.

But with people like Assball's attitude, apparently you should need a government voucher in order to buy a large vehicle. And as such, pay an extremely high price for it due to low production volume.

I fear for my buddies kid under Obamacare. People with his condition will never be able to be productive members of society so the government really won't care about providing funding for their illness.

RE: Why underpowered?
By AssBall on 9/28/2010 3:51:16 PM , Rating: 1
Jesus Christ.

I drive a fricking 07 Tundra and get around 14 MPG if I am lucky in good weather and NOT hauling shit. I agree with Fit on 90% of his posts. Yes, I was just being an Ass.

You guys don't appreciate sarcastic humor? Then lick my 85 octane guzzling exhaust pipe.

And yes I make fun of people with disabilities. I'm easily amused like that, which is my enaliable right.

Don't be so goddamn serious all the time.

RE: Why underpowered?
By AssBall on 9/28/2010 3:53:39 PM , Rating: 2
/edit spelling fail ***


RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/29/2010 8:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
It's actually unalienable or inalienable, depending which you meant.

RE: Why underpowered?
By albundy2 on 9/29/2010 5:22:46 AM , Rating: 2
lol, that reminded me of the episode where Brian tries to become Quagmires' friend.

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/29/2010 8:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry. If your post was meant to be sarcastic, then I didn't pick it up. But my co-workers kid is a sensitive topic because the kid is only like 5 years younger than me and likely won't live to be 27 as I am now. And my co-worker has already suffered the loss of one child, who was only 6 months younger than me. No parent should have to see their child die.

It's not like I don't make fun of certain non-politically correct topics as well.

RE: Why underpowered?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/28/2010 12:35:35 PM , Rating: 3
Please notice that in most US states the speed limit is 70-75 mph, while here in Italy it's often 80 mph. I don't understand why Americans love to have cars with a lot of HP with speed limits so strict.

WOW a whole 5 mph difference!! That's SOOOO much stricter.

While I agree it's fun to get sticked to the seat while accelerating, it's not fun for the environment

Ummm do you realize the least economical cars on the planet almost exclusively come from Europe and the UK?

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/28/2010 1:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention, Italy specifically where he says he lives. Ferrari....Lamborghini....not exactly high on the fuel efficiency charts.

RE: Why underpowered?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/28/2010 1:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
How about that Bugatti huh? The MODEL of efficiency lol

RE: Why underpowered?
By Hyperion1400 on 9/28/2010 1:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Ferrari is owned by Fiat, one of the most prolific econo car producers in the world. Also, Fiat makes Alfa Romeo, another known for making both affordable and efficient cars, AND sporty, affordable cars.

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/28/2010 2:15:18 PM , Rating: 2
Ferrari's are made in Italy though.

His point that the world's most fuel in-efficient cars are built in Europe is valid.

RE: Why underpowered?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/28/2010 2:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. I wasn't saying that Europe didn't make fuel efficient cars. I was just pointing out that the huge HUGE majority of gas guzzlers are European and British.

RE: Why underpowered?
By lelias2k on 9/28/2010 4:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
This HUGE majority you are talking about (Ferraris, Lambos, Buggatis) are sold in a ridiculous small quantity.

American trucks and SUVs on the other hand are sold in millions. AND they are driven on a daily basis, which is not the case of supercars.

Finally, much of the production of these European guzzlers (in many cases the vast majority) is sold to the US.

The US is not the leader of oil usage per capita by accident...

RE: Why underpowered?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/28/2010 6:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
This HUGE majority you are talking about (Ferraris, Lambos, Buggatis) are sold in a ridiculous small quantity.

BMW's are mostly gas guzzlers. Mercedes total gas guzzlers, Rolls Royce. Range Rover. Bentley. Lotus. Porsche, are those sold in ridiculous small quantities too?

I can go on and on. I was only seeking to point out the irony of an Italian accusing another country of not caring about gas mileage.

The US is not the leader of oil usage per capita by accident...

It's no accident we have 330 million citizens, if that's what you're getting at. With over 200 million registered drivers. Yeah, that's going to cause some oil usage. It does NOT make a case, however, for us being not efficient enough.

RE: Why underpowered?
By FITCamaro on 9/29/2010 8:06:51 AM , Rating: 3
Not to mention living a far more spread out country than any European nation.

They can keep their tiny cars, tiny apartments, and extremely high costs of living. At least for those who actually work anyway.

RE: Why underpowered?
By shaidorsai on 9/28/2010 6:44:14 PM , Rating: 1
It's not really horsepower per say as much as torque that we like...that lets us feel like we are something special when we floor the gas on our retardly large pickup truck and cut off the guy in the Fiesta trying to merge in traffic. Basically we all drive like assholes and need the power to look cool (to ourselves) as we do it....

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