When I first saw that the Ford Fiesta U.S. sales in 2013 were up 25.2% compared to 2012 (71,073 vehicles vs. 56,775), I was initially surprised. The Fiesta is Ford’s entry-level car, and “entry-level” has long been synonymous with “the kind of thing that you have to buy when there is no alternative and you’re ready to live with something for a few years with what is really quite crappy but at least it comes with a warranty.”
I don’t want to get all effusive with praise here, but “entry level” isn’t what the Fiesta seems like to me. Yes, it is a little car, a subcompact. Yes, the one I had has a manual transmission, and unless you’re driving the ST version of the car, a manual transmission seems to be something not particularly desirable. Yes, the Fiesta in question here had a sticker (including $795 for destination and delivery) of $18,925, which isn’t cheap, but neither is the car.
Lots of praise has been heaped upon Ford CEO Alan Mulally for his implementation of the “One Ford” program. At its most essential, that is about looking at vehicles on a global level. Ford of Europe has long had outstanding subcompact and compact cars because in order to compete in that market, where gas prices have long been nose-bleed expensive, people buy small and expect good.
Which is the Fiesta in spades.
Design-wise, the five-door hatch is stylish, and if it seems a bit narrow when looked at head on, that’s probably because, well, it is (it is 67.8 in. wide and 58.1 in. high, so the narrowness is accentuated).
The car has a base of $16,050 but the one here was optioned up with $2,080 worth of stuff, which ranged from the SYNC with MyFordTouch to heated front seats. The 6.5-in. screen for the infotainment was a bit small when it came to trying to put in satellite radio presets (given that I work on a keyboard all day, arguably my fingers are somewhat more dexterous than they otherwise might be). The heated seats were an absolute delight, as I had the car when southeastern Michigan was smashing its low record temperatures. The interior materials weren’t such that it made it seem as though one was in an Audi, but they also didn’t seem to have been selected from the bargain bin.
The car is powered by a 1.6-liter four that produces 120-hp, which is certainly sufficient to move a car that weighs just 2,537 lb. While I’ve found five-speed manuals in some small cars to be one gear too few, that is not the case with this car. (Of course, when you’re driving a car over roads that are caked with snow and ice, fifth was something of a rarity to reach.)
Although this is a small car, it is rated “Good” by IIHS for frontal offset, side impact, rear impact, and roof strength, all of which are, well, good.
And that’s what the Fiesta is. A good car.
Engine: 31.6-liter Ti-VCT I4
Horsepower: 120 @ 6,350 rpm
Torque: 112 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Materials: Aluminum block and head
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Steering: Rack and pinion with electric power assist
Wheelbase: 98 in.
Length: 159.7 in.
Width: 67.8 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Passenger volume: 85.1 cu. ft
Cargo volume: 14.9 cu. ft
EPA: 29/39/31 city/highway/combined mpg