After two days and 1200 miles behind the wheel, we can’t help but be impressed by the new Fiesta. It has its quirks, but take the time to learn them and you’ll be very impressed with what Ford’s been able to do with such a small package.
After logging roughly 20 hours at the helm of the Fiesta, we rolled into Colorado Springs tired but impressed. Over the course of our journey, the Fiesta returned 32 mpg on average, which is decent for a small car, but not spectacular. What is spectacular is that it returned that kind of mileage in spite of the hardships it’s faced. While it has a natural advantage in its small engine and feathery curb weight, we didn’t let the Fiesta off easy.
After leaving Los Angeles, we’ve climbed over mountain ranges and across the high desert on our way to Colorado. Along the way, we encountered outside air temperatures ranging from, according to the Fiesta, 30 to as high as 52 degrees Celsius. For our U.S. readers, that’s over 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Such temperatures, of course, necessitated constant use of the air conditioner, which we’re happy to report still blew cold even in the sweltering heat. We also climbed nearly a mile into the sky and, at one point, crossed the Rockies at nearly 11,000 feet. This is all while carrying two staffers, our cameras and all our gear, and the Fiesta still returned 32 mpg. Imagine what it would do on a normal commute.
Of course, as well as the Fiesta performed, there’s only so much that it can do. Every car on the road will be breathing hard at 11,000 feet, so we can’t blame the little 1.6L engine for struggling up the hills. While it didn’t power up the larger hills, the Fiesta still had the gusto necessary to maintain freeway speeds, even if passing was out of the question.
Now, about that handling. In yesterday’s blog, I wrote that the suspension was soft, but that wasn’t quite accurate. The suspension itself is actually a tad firm and quite sporty, but there are other factors at work. Firstly, we’re talking about a car that weighs barely 2500 lbs with me, my copilot and all our gear in it. Secondly, it’s a tall, narrow car, giving it a naturally higher center of gravity. Finally, the seats, while comfortable, don’t hold you particularly well in the corners. All of these factors make the Fiesta feel top-heavy and floaty, but guide it carefully into a turn and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
As I said yesterday, it’s important you set up your corners correctly. Turn in abruptly and you’ll be tossed to the side. Execute your turn smoothly and you’ll be rewarded with confident handling that eats windy roads without a thought. Ford’s engineers must be commended on their work with the Fiesta’s steering, as it is very precise and there is no dead spot on-center whatsoever. The Mini may be known for its go-kart-like handling, but the Fiesta may just give it a run for its money. In the end, the handling performance you get out of the Fiesta depends entirely on what you put into it.
From inside, the Fiesta’s cockpit is, in general, a nice place to spend your time. The dash is far more stylish and modern than most cars in its class and the features list is impressive. Features like an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, an auxiliary input jack and a USB port, a multi-function screen and a voice-command system make the Fiesta an impressive value. Ford hasn’t announced the U.S. Fiesta’s specs list yet, but we hope it includes options for satellite radio and a navigation system, since neither would be hard to add. We also can’t forget to mention the impressive head and leg room, both of which passed the six-foot-plus staffer test easily.
Other useful features include power-folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry and starting, power doors, windows and mirrors, song information from the radio displayed on the screen, adjustable headlight height, automatic headlights, automatic wipers and split-folding rear seats that increase the luggage capacity tremendously.
Pressed for details, we admit that some of the plastic on the dash is a bit shiny and cheap-looking, which detracts from the otherwise handsome interior. The red LCD multi-function display, while quite useful, looks a bit dated, as do the gauges themselves, which are flat and plain-looking. While the rest of the dash pops, the gauges themselves are reminiscent of those found in 1990s vintage automobiles and look like an afterthought. We also have to wonder how long the dash styling will stay relevant before it, too, looks dated. The slanted layout of the buttons is counter-intuitive and the mirror and window controls are in awkward locations.
Still, these are small details that may not even be issues on the U.S.-spec vehicle. Halfway through our trip, the Fiesta has us singing its praises as it goes about its business with little fuss and not a single squeak or rattle in the cabin. Can we say with confidence that Ford has discovered how to do a small-car right? We’ll know for sure once we’ve returned to Los Angeles, but at the halfway point, things are looking up for the Fiesta.
For the next few days, we’ll be taking a break from the road to bring you coverage of the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Fiesta’s racing debut. The Great Fiesta Road Trip will pick up again Sunday after the race as we make our way back out to California. In the mean time, stay tuned to MotorTrend.com for all your Pikes Peak coverage.
Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6564755/miscellaneous/cowboy-up-the-great-fiesta-road-trip-day-2/index.html