Friday, November 5, 2010

Ford Fiesta Sedan SEL 2011 Review

Ford Fiesta is a world car, meaning that it's sold around the world in as close to a single specification as possible. There are minor differences under the skin, as American safety specs are just different enough from European or Asian to require such, but a North American Fiesta still looks nearly identical to its foreign counterparts. With one exception. While the rest of the world has only hatchback versions of the Fiesta, in two- or four-door form (three or five counting the hatch as a "door"), we get the four-door hatch and a four-door sedan.

Conventional thinking in the auto industry is that hatchbacks are seen as entry-level, bottom-feeder "econoboxes", with a smattering of performance models. Hatch sales are far less than ten percent of total passenger cars, so Ford's strategy seemed to make sense. Except that in early sales, 60% of Fiesta buyers have opted for the hatch. Still, that's a sizable 40% for the sedan, and the mix could change. The other surprise with early Fiesta sales is that premium, not entry-level, trim levels have been the best-sellers. 2011 ford fiesta review

In the Fiesta sedan lineup, that means SEL, not the base S or mid-level SE. And SEL means "fully-equipped", with ambient lighting, Ford's SYNC® in-car connectivity system, a good AM/FM/CD sound system with jack and USB inputs, and Sirius® satellite radio. Where there are a variety of small gasoline and diesel engines in other markets, the extra weight from U.S.-spec emissions and crashworthiness standards and the longer distances traveled here mean any engine you want as long as it's a 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower four-cylinder.

Transmission choices are five-speed manual, no surprise, or a six-speed "automatic". Why the quotation marks? The PowerShift is not a conventional torque converter-based automatic, nor is it a CVT. It's an electro-hydraulically controlled dual-clutch automated manual, as used in high-performance and racing cars. It's more efficient than a torque-converter automatic, for improved fuel economy, and uses a variety of electronic systems to work nearly seamlessly.

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