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2011 Ford Fiesta

A few years ago, before the economy completely went bust, Ford was in trouble. Its product line up was old, boring and sales were down, way down. The company went on a diet and sold many of its brands including Aston Martin (big mistake), Land Rover and Jaguar. So when GM and Chrysler had to take bail out money, Ford did not. Ford now has one of the best line ups of any brand, American, European or Import.

Even more remarkable is the fact that the Ford line up is only going to get better. Now the all-new Fiesta has been introduced. Typically, it will take a new model some time to grow on me and to impress me, but not the Ford Fiesta. It impressed me from the start.

The look of the Fiesta has a sculpted, defined style and with the right color, is very keen. One of the more impressive features on the Fiesta is its dual clutch transmission, similar the type that Audi first introduced a few years ago.

Dual clutch transmissions are as close to a manual-automatic transmission as you can get. These units will basically engage two gears at the same time, so when you gear up and especially when you gear down, shifts are crisper. In addition these types of transmissions are very fuel efficient. If you are familiar with my column, you know that I push every vehicle that I test hard. This typically yields less efficient fuel economy numbers.

The Ford Fiesta averaged 30 miles per gallon city/highway during my week long test. While this is not world shattering for an entry level economy car, it is very impressive nevertheless. Especially considering how hard I drove the Fiesta. In other words, the average driver probably could achieve a 34 mpg or higher average.

Simply put, the Fiesta was a blast to drive. Acceleration at times was surprising, but at other times somewhat slow. While its trick transmission worked well most times, it was confused at times when asked to accelerate sharply after hard braking. The transmission either had a lag in reaction, or unexpectantly sprang into action chirping the front tires. Yes, you read that correctly, I was able to chirp the front tires in a 119 horsepower economy car with an automatic transmission.

The front seats were comfortable and had good lateral support. Steering was quick and pretty precise for an economy car. The four door hatch back, the best looking Fiesta model also had good cargo space. In fact, I was able to load my Specialize Roubaix bicycle without taking the wheels off, whereas I had to remove them to get it in the back of a larger Honda Crosstour.

There was one quality issue with the window trim around the rear driver side passenger window that came loose.

Overall the 2011 Ford Fiesta was very, very impressive. Good style, nice comfort, good fuel economy, very nice performance, good cargo space and much, much fun.