2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta
Cool New Car Models
Fuel-stingy minicars are back in vogue, thanks to escalating gas prices. Ford has long promised such a car for its U.S. lineup. In fact, it had one ready several years back, but canceled it on learning the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris would show up.

Since then, the Blue Oval has been working on what it thinks will be a more competitive minicar. Though Ford isn’t talking timetable or specifications yet, the three Verve concepts, unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show, 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show, and 2008 Detroit Auto Show suggest the showroom version is well on the road to completion. So does the debut of a new Mazda 2, which will parent the U.S. baby as well as a redesign of Ford’s popular European Fiesta. Right now, sources predict the American version--which will be badged Fiesta--will arrive in 2010 as a 2011 model.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is another “world car” project a la Ford’s 1981 Escort and 2000 Focus. Like the original VW Beetle, the idea is a basic design that can be built and sold profitably the world over, because one car serving many markets drastically cuts development costs and raises profit potential. That’s why General Motors still dabbles with world cars, too.

In the past, though, Detroit “world cars” ended up with so many regional design and engineering changes that economies of scale were diminished, if not erased. The Focus is one example. At first, the U.S. and European models were quite similar. Then Ford Europe did a 2005 redesign that U.S. marketers deemed too costly. In other words, a Euro-based Focus would have been priced out of its U.S. market slot. Which is why our Focus still uses the original design, already paid for, albeit heavily updated for 2008.

Ford says Focus will be a “world car” again in its next incarnation, expected around 2011. There’s not much choice. Ford is running very low on cash and must leverage its global resources--that timeworn Detroit cliché--to get the most new model bang for the bucks it has. That’s why Ford CEO Alan Mullaly is busy spearheading a global product plan that aims for big savings by greatly trimming the number of platforms and parts in Ford Motor’s worldwide inventory. The increased sharing won’t be confined to small cars, either. Ford also plans to merge two different midsize sedans, the American Fusion and European Mondeo, into a single basic design, with only modest tailoring for various markets.

All this explains why the 2011 Ford Fiesta will be closely related to the next-generation Fiesta, but possibly sourced from low-wage Brazil or Mexico to achieve a competitive El Norte price. And because Ford now assigns small-car development to Japanese affiliate Mazda, which is plenty experienced that way, the Fiesta will be derived from the recently-released second-generation Mazda 2. That model isn’t coming here, but its good U.K. and Continental notices bode well for the North American Ford.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta will share a new B2E corporate platform with the Mazda 2, but have different styling (penned by Ford designers in Europe) and perhaps different powertrains too. It will look more conservative than the Verve concept, which Ford says suggests the general “design language” of the production car. But the concept is certainly expressive, as is the wedgy Mazda 2, so the showroom Fiesta won’t be another plain two-box appliance like the Fiesta sold here way back in 1977-1980.

Size wise, the 2011 Ford Fiesta should be close to the Fit, Yaris, Chevrolet Aveo and other so-called “B-Class” minicars, but a generous wheelbase versus overall length should make for a surprisingly roomy four-seater, judging by the Mazda 2. It’s front-wheel drive, of course, and a 4-door sedan body style is assured for the U.S. Two- and 4-door hatchbacks are likely for Europe and possibly for our side of the pond as well.

Powertrains should come from the Mazda 2, which in various markets offers twincam 4-cylinder engines of 1.3 and 1.5 liters. We’d guess the U.S. 2011 Ford Fiesta will get the 1.5 at least, or perhaps a 1.8-liter enlargement providing the extra low-end torque that’s always so helpful for U.S. driving conditions. Transmissions should comprise a 5-speed manual and an optional 5-speed automatic, also per the 2. Standard equipment should include antilock brakes, front torso side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Traction control will certainly be available, maybe even standard. Stability control is a likely option, as it is on the Mazda.
2010 Ford Fiesta
The 2011 Ford Fiesta will likely be powered by a 1.5-liter or 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. The European-market 2008 Fiesta is pictured here.

A Notable Feature of the 2011 Ford Fiesta

Depending on marketers’ courage, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may offer upscale extras like sport suspension, 16- or 17-inch tires to replace standard 15s, power windows, keyless power door locks, perhaps even a navigation system. The options list will almost certainly show the new Ford Sync system for voice-activated control of cell phones and portable music players, if only to court the youth market. An available 5-speed automatic would be a competitive advantage among B-Class cars, where 4-speed transmissions are the rule so far. Let’s also note that the latest Mazda 2 weighs some 220 pounds less than the previous version, which bodes well for both performance and fuel economy in the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

Buying Advice for the 2011 Ford Fiesta

B-Class competition is heating up fast. Suzuki now offers sedan and hatchback versions of its little SX4; Toyota’s Scion brand has replaced its small xA hatchback with the more-refined xD; and 2009 brings a new, slightly larger Honda Fit with fresh styling, better performance and more interior space. The Toyota Yaris will also be tweaked before its expected redesign for model-year 2012. And Korean brands Hyundai and Kia won’t be idle. There’s also the prospect of a low-cost Chinese-sourced mini from newly independent Chrysler, though its timing is still a bit murky. With all this, the 2011 Ford Fiesta will have a lot to contend with, but it should be up to it, assuming the well-received Mazda 2 is any guide.

2011 Ford Fiesta Release Date: Ford isn’t talking, as we said, but most sources except an on-sale date in the first half of calendar 2010.

2011 Ford Fiesta First Test Drive: Assuming the above timetable holds, media previews should be scheduled for fall 2009.

2011 Ford Fiesta Prices: They’re obviously a long way from being decided, but the 2011 Ford Fiesta could well displace the bottom-end versions of the compact Focus. We’d look prices to start at around $12,000 and range up to $16,000 loaded. Currency exchange rates between now and intro time will loom large for Ford in determining the final numbers.

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