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2011 Ford Fiesta Preview and Drive

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2011 Ford Fiesta

Preview: 2011 Ford Fiesta
By Carey Russ

Back in the late 1970s, in the dark days of oil crises and gas lines, Ford imported the Fiesta, a European model bred for the land of expensive fuel. It sold well enough until the American fuel situation returned to what passes for normal, and, if my memory is working, was eventually replaced by something called the Festiva, not the same at all. And then there was the Aspire, which we will quietly sweep under the rug...

Americans have, in the past anyway, been loath to embrace small, fuel-efficient cars. But that may be changing, as the economy is, um, in the undecided and undefined state it's in, as the US Government may get serious with fuel economy standards, and as people are switching from huge trucks to more reasonably-sized cars. And as European and American safety and emissions regulations converge and it becomes easier for European cars to come over here without massive and expensive changes.

Ford had announced that it will bring the Fiesta back for model year 2011. This is not the car that was here 30 years ago, but it is a car very much in the same vein. While smaller than the Focus outside, it's roomy enough for four inside, and features dynamic European styling.

And, as I discovered during an all-too-short test drive of a European-spec example recently, it has the fun-to-drive character necessary to succeed in the subcompact hatchback class. Which is something that several potential competitors lack.

The drive wasn't long - just a loop through the city streets of Sausalito, CA, just north of San Francisco, and out onto the 101 freeway. But the on-ramp was a classic do-or-die situation, short and up a steep hill, into traffic moving at 55+ mph. A 12-second 0-60 time was not going to cut it here. The little Fiesta did fine, even with three people inside. Acceleration was brisk, the handling good, and the fun factor high.

Changes for he US market are not likely to be major, and it's looking like the Honda Fit and Scion xD, the two current class leaders, are about to have another serious competitor.