Compact cars usually don’t get our adrenaline pumping. They are cute little college-kid cars – they’re cheap to buy, cheap to fuel, and generally adequate as starter cars. They are practical, but the 2012 Ford Fiesta gives drivers a super compact car with a well-received, new, sportier personality.
This year’s Fiesta is not only about practicality. It also adds a bit of fun too. The Fiesta is powered by a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, that kicks out a meager 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. It has a five-speed manual standard transmission, but also offers an optional six-speed tranny. The Fiesta will go to 60 mph in an excruciating 9.5 seconds and Ford estimates its fuel economy at 30 mpg city / 40 mpg highway for the automatic and 29 city / 38 highway for the manual.
Of course, small cars make some drivers nervous. Can anything that small actually be safe? The answer is yes. The Fiesta’s safety features include stability and traction controls, anti-lock disk brakes, side airbags in the front seat, side curtain airbags and, a feature not found anywhere among other subcompacts, a driver’s knee airbag.
The Ford Fiesta earned an overall score of four out of five stars in this year’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing. It scored four stars for front-crash protection and five stars overall for side-crash protection. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gave this compact car a rating of “good” for the way it stood up to frontal-offset and side-impact collisions. In brake tests, it came to a complete stop from 60 mph in a brief 119 feet.
The newest Fiesta has four doors in both the sedan and hatchback model. There are three trim packages for the sedan – S, SE, and SEL – and two trims for the hatchback - the SE and the SES.
The most basic model, the S sedan comes with 15-inch steel wheels, power mirrors, a tilting, telescoping steering wheel, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo that has an auxiliary input jack and USB port for your MP3 player. This model also features a split-folding rear seat. If you add power windows and door locks, a CD player and throw in a few metallic cockpit accents, then you have the SE.
To this, the SEL sedan adds a rear spoiler, 16-inch premium painted wheels and a more upscale sound system which includes satellite radio and two extra speakers. There’s also ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, as well as the SYNC infotainment system, which offers hands-free calling and other cabin controls through simple voice commands.
The SE Hatchback is appointed very much like the SE sedan, but adds a rear-window wiper and a spoiler. The SES Hatchback mimics the SEL Sedan but comes with a rear-window wiper as well. Other optional features such as keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats and leather seating can be added for an additionl cost.
Even the most finicky and critical members of the automotive media find the new Ford Fiesta to have a surprisingly sporty, responsive feel, a quiet cabin and a surprising array of paint colors, which are just as spicy and exotic as the Fiesta itself. If you want a small car that doesn’t scream cheap, take a long look at Fords new Fiesta, you may be pleasantly surprised.