Good looking and fun to drive, Ford Fiesta is a miserly fuel user and small car with a lot to offer…

BM Ford Fiesta 01

Ford bounced back into the Canadian small car market in a big way with the return of Fiesta for the 2011 model year.

Sleek, modern styling lines, peppy performance, great fuel economy and an attractive price made the new Fiesta was a hit straight out of the gate.

Ford claimed it set new industry benchmarks in small car safety and in-car media connectivity. Although it has strong European roots, the North American version of Fiesta is made in Mexico. It comes in a five-door hatchback body style plus a four-door sedan, which was not sold in Europe. The 2011 Fiesta also came in S, SE, SEL and SES trim levels.

Power comes from a Ti-VCT 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with twin variable camshaft timing that can provide up to 120 horsepower and peek torque is 112 ft-lb at 5000 rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.9 L/100 km in the city and 5.1 L/100 km on the highway (which is about 56 mpg) with the optional automatic.

Some extra (passing) power would be nice at higher speeds, but there’s no problem getting a Fiesta up to a freeway cruising speed. It’s surprisingly quick off its mark from a standing start and the mid-range power available is also impressive, for a small engine.

The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual but the optional PowerShift six-speed automatic was a completely new (direct-shift) high-efficiency unit. Fundamentally, it is two manual transmissions inside one gearbox with shifts that are electronically activated using a dual-clutch feature, similar to the Audi/VW DSG transmission.

Inside, the centre dash layout (audio etc.) was cell phone inspired, with an eye to attracting younger buyers. SES and SEL trim levels also come with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a multi-function info screen and a unique ambient lighting system allows drivers to choose between seven interior accent lighting colors.

Rear legroom is limited, like most in this class, and the seat is a 60/40 split-fold design. Nothing clever here, the seatbacks simply flop forward on top of the seat cushion and allow more cargo space, it’s more a more useful feature in the hatchback.

Fiesta comes with seven standard airbags, one more than the norm. The extra driver’s knee airbag helps prevent leg injuries and better positions the driver to survive a serious frontal impact. It’s also constructed to comply with European pedestrian (impact) safety requirements. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes came standard on all trim levels, which is unusual in an ultra cost-conscious market segment.

A tilt and telescopic steering wheel is another unexpected standard on all versions of Fiesta. The electric-assist steering system has progressively firmer feel as vehicle speed increases. It also incorporates ‘pull-drift compensation’ feature to help the Fiesta track straighter in strong side winds and another feature, called ‘active nibble control,’ dampens wheel/road vibrations at the steering wheel.

While changes for 2012 were minor, they did include an integrated driver’s seat armrest on SE, SEL and SES trim levels. Remote start and keypad entry also became new options on SE, SEL and SES. The top SEL and SES trim levels were replaced with a new Titanium trim package for 2013.

Both sedan and hatchback versions of Fiesta got “Top Safety Pick” ratings based of crash test results done by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). On the down side, Consumer Reports rated Fiesta “below average” for reliability. The most troublesome areas appear to be power and audio equipment and the transmission (some software glitches/automatic).

Good looking and fun to drive, Ford Fiesta is a miserly fuel user and small car with a lot to offer.

Price Check: 2011 to 2013 Ford Fiesta (March 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011              Hatchback SE                                                  $9,000 to $12,000

2012              Hatchback SE                                                 $11,000 to $14,000

2013              Hatchback SE                                                 $13,000 to $16,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2010 to 2013 Ford Fiesta:

2013: The Tire and Loading Information Label may contain incorrect tire size and inflation pressure information. Dealers will inspect and install a revised label, if necessary.

2011/2012/2013: The Restraint Control Module may turn OFF the right side air curtain, as well as the front passenger seat-mounted side airbag, when the Occupant Classification System (OCS) senses the right front seat is not occupied. This could increase the risk of injury to a right rear seat occupant in a collision. Dealers will reprogram the Restraint Control Module.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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