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2011 Ford Fiesta Bi-Generational Review

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2011 Ford Fiesta

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2011 Ford Fiesta: Great for the young, and young at heart

by Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel
Senior Editor-At-Large

Like it or not there’s a new small car in your future. And there’s currently not a better choice than the 2011 Ford Fiesta. This classy vehicle has made the trip from Europe, with sales of over 700 thousand units, to the U.S. where it’s gone through an effective Americanization transition to go on sale this summer.

If you haven’t seen the Fiesta commercials, Face Book, Twitter, web pages and other new media yet … get ready it’s coming to you soon, very soon. During the recent media introduction of the cute new 2011 Ford Fiesta, a Ford executive noted the Fiesta would have great appeal to two demographic groups: millennials and boomers.

That’s a generous marketing divide for one car. Appealing to both the young and aging generations seemed a bit oxymoronic to me given the dissimilar likes, needs, characteristics, dislikes, attitudes, resources and group personalities of each. Would it work, did it work?

That was my focus during the test drive of the Fiesta – but admittedly as a geezer I had just one point of view -- but made certain my co-driver-reviewer was from the youthful group. That’s why this is a ‘he said and he said” review and is, we believe, a fair test of the Fiesta’s driving characteristics, design, interior and feel.

2011 Ford Fiesta Promise

Based on Ford’s press material these are the key points of the Fiesta:

  • Has an expressive, vibrant design with sharp reflexes that will redefine U.S. small car customers’ expectations.
  • Offers 15 class-exclusive features, adding luxury and convenience usually found in vehicles at significantly higher prices.
  • Delivers projected best-in-class safety, fuel economy of up to 40 mpg, high tech SYNC connectivity and an expressive color palette inside and out.
  • Good value pricing and warranties.

And here’s how it delivered to both markets using Ford’s own descriptions.

2011 Ford Fiesta Exterior Design

Ford said:
Kinetic design imparts a sense of movement – even while standing still – harmonizing character elements to reflect global Ford identity, enabling Fiesta to project an air of confidence, style and individuality. Fiesta targets a youthful “design-progressive” mind-set, a consumer group that values style and diversity in both hatchback and sedan models.

We said:

Millennial Opinion                          Boomer Opinion
Sleek aerodynamic design.                 Distinctive and attractive. Nothing garish
Preferred the hatchback to the sedan   Sedan seems better suited to my needs
Liked the extra cargo room                  Back seat perfect for grandkids
Loved the really hot colors                   Most colors too youthful 

2011 Ford Fiesta Interior

Ford said:
Fiesta is as dramatic on the inside as it is on the outside. Boldly sculpted surfaces, contrasting colors and comfortable, supportive materials make the interior as individual as the driver. The instrument panel centerstack – focal point of the new Fiesta interior – was designed to feel as useful and familiar as the keypad on a mobile phone.

We said:

Millennial Opinion                           Boomer Opinion
Awesome. Very cool                          Never seen anything like it. Nice.
More room than I imagined                 Could be cramped for ample sized people
Love the colors and materials             A couple OK, some too wild
Easy in and out                                 Have bad knees, too low for easy in/out

2011 Ford Fiesta Amenities and Features

Ford said:
Fiesta features first-row bucket seats with a 60/40 split second-row seat. Seating surfaces vary by trim level offering comfort, style and individuality some series offer leather with sporty contrast accent color piping. Intuitive switch gear placement, comfort zone seating and available ambient lighting for interior accent lighting. Fiesta offers a number of standard and available features that increase convenience and add connectivity. Among them is Ford SYNC, integrating a driver’s mobile phone with Fiesta’s onboard, voice-activated communications and entertainment system. Fiesta also offers keyless entry and push button start, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel to suit their individual preferences. Adjustable cup holders can accommodate Red Bull cans and Big Gulps

We said:

Millennial Opinion                              Boomer Opinion
Loved the bucket seats                         Could be cramped for ample sized people
Back seats okay                                  Will be good for carriers and grand kids
SYNC is sensational                             Difficult to use 
Lighting very cool. Ditto cup holder size   What’s a Red Bull and Big Gulp?

2011 Ford Fiesta Driving Experience

Ford said:
Big results from a small package are possible with new technologies in a new global engine, a 1.6-liter DOHC I-4 engine with 120 horsepower at 6,350 rpm and 112 ft.-lb. of torque at 5,000 rpm. Spirited performance and fuel efficiency are signature attributes, with Fiesta delivering projected best-in-class highway fuel economy of up to 40 mpg.”

“Fiesta features a standard five-speed manual transaxle with gear ratios selected to offer spirited off-the-line performance and exceptional fuel economy or an available all-new North American industry-exclusive PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission. Specially tuned front struts, bushings, dampers, stabilizer bars and a rear twist-beam axle keep Fiesta sure-footed and firmly planted. Sporty, European driving dynamics prevail.

We said:

Millennial Opinion                                  Boomer Opinion
Liked the stick shift version                         Automatic is easier and improves MPG
Fun city driving and on the road too              Effortless easy and fun for daily driving 
Sticks to the road on curves and straights     Never push a car while I’m driving
Power when it’s needed – runs nice              No worries about merging on expressways

2011 Ford Fiesta Safety and Noise

Ford said: 50 percent of Fiesta’s welded body structure is made from high-strength steel, with ultra-strong boron steel used in several critical areas. Fiesta safety is enhanced by an array of features including dual-stage first-row airbags, a class-exclusive driver’s knee airbag, side airbags and side curtain airbags. AdvanceTrac® with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) is standard on Fiesta, along with seat belt pre-tensioners and rear door child safety locks.”

“Noise, vibration and harshness control is taken to a new level of quiet for this segment, helped in part by a specially laminated, class-exclusive windshield that was chosen to help absorb and contain noise. Engine noise is subdued by a hood blanket, with enhanced door seals keeping wind noise minimized. Special padding behind the instrument panel and foam baffles mounted inside the pillars keeps Fiesta quiet. Even the headliner material was specified for its sound-deadening qualities.

We said:

Millennial Opinion                                        Boomer Opinion
Like the high quality steel for protection      A small car needs lots of safety features
Air bags crucial for safety                           Hope I never have to use them
So quiet it’s a personal concert hall            Conversations easy to understand
ESC is sensational                                   Many features I don’t have now

2011 Ford Fiesta Quality and Reliability

Ford said:
Customers are savvy. They want expressive cars that deliver not just great fuel economy, but also high quality, new technologies and a fun driving experience. The Fiesta – an all-new vehicle in North America – Ford hopes will set a new standard for small cars. Nearly 700,000 Fiestas have been sold to customers in Europe and Asia, since launch.”

“When developing the new Fiesta, Ford conducted extensive global customer research. Findings clearly indicated a desire for style topped customer lists everywhere in the world. Fiesta was developed with customers, not just for them with fuel economy, spirited performance and efficient use of space are universal desires across global markets.

We say:

Millennial Opinion                                       Boomer Opinion
Ford really understands our wants/needs           Great to see Ford on the rise
It’s a proven vehicle fixed for the U.S.                Obviously they understand small cars 
Great fuel economy                                         Good ecological responsiveness 
Sets a new standard for small cars                    Setting new standards others will follow 

2011 Ford Fiesta’s Bottom Line

There are five Fiesta models -- ranging in price from models priced from $13,995 - $17,795, most nicely equipped. While we have differed on points, both of us agree the Ford Fiesta is a sensational vehicle for the price and will set new benchmarks for small cars in the U.S. Ford has delivered what it promised and isn’t that nice. So no matter if you’re in Gen X or Y or one of the Boomers or even a Geezer the Fiesta could be the new car for you. In your Ford dealer’s very soon, some even are offering a sneak peak.