First Look: 2011 Ford Fiesta

By Steven J. Ewing

December 02, 2009

One of the most hyped-up, anticipated new vehicles being introduced at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show is the U.S.-spec 2011 Ford Fiesta. Not only has Ford been talking about this car for months, the automaker went ahead and put a fleet of Euro-spec Fiestas on the road in 2009 as part of the Fiesta Movement, a way to ramp up awareness of the vehicle and get some free press from drivers all around the country. In fact, Ford says that the Fiesta name already has a 60 percent awareness rating in America, which is pretty impressive for a vehicle that isn't even on sale yet.

The Fiesta has been a success story in Europe for many, many years, and it seems like America's biggest concern is how the Fiesta's design would change once the car was brought to our shores. Well, as you can see by the photos, it's slightly different, but in a way looks like a natural evolution of the Fiesta. Consider it a mid-cycle refresh, if you will. The other big change for the U.S. market is the introduction of the Fiesta sedan, which uses Ford's signature three-bar grille and gives consumers an alternative option from the five-door hatch. Visual changes on both cars come in the way of a slightly tweaked front fascia, where the Euro car's foglamps have been ditched in favor of vertical LED bars, similar to those on the new Taurus. We think it looks great.

Under the hood is a 1.6-liter four-pot mill good for 119 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission offering is a five-speed manual, though consumers can option up to a six-speed, Powershift dual-clutch automatic. Don't be fooled, though -- there's no way to manually change your way through the automatic's gears. And when it comes to fuel economy, the Fiesta will surely put smiles on people's faces, offering up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Inside, the Fiesta's cabin has not been changed much from the European car, save the addition of American-friendly amenities like extra cup holders and a center armrest. We had a chance to sit in the new Fiesta at Ford's product development center recently, and find the materials used to be much better than on the current Focus small car, and the whole design is really good-looking. Both the sedan and hatchback offer a 60/40 split folding rear seat, though curiously, the hatch's seats do not fold flat and the headrests need to be removed to put the seats all the way down. Seems like an odd omission in this segment, but Ford says that in its research, consumers didn't seem to mind this. However, the Fiesta will offer a ton of segment-exclusive features like push-button start, automatic climate control, and (of course) SYNC.

No official word on pricing has been released as of this writing, but we'll keep you posted as the car's on-sale date nears. We'd expect it to be pretty comparable to the Focus, and priced to compete within its class. Scroll down to read Ford's official press release, and be sure to click through our gallery to see a raft of Fiesta shots.


• The all-new Ford Fiesta features an expressive, vibrant design, with sharp reflexes and a global track record that will redefine U.S. small car customers’ expectations
• Fiesta offers 15 class-exclusive technologies, adding luxury and convenience usually found in vehicles at significantly higher price points
• Fiesta is projected to deliver best-in-class highway fuel economy of 40 mpg, with a responsive 1.6-liter DOHC I-4 engine, advanced PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission and Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS)
• Designed to be versatile, personal and adaptable, Fiesta is expected to deliver best-in-class safety, convenience and connectivity with segment-exclusive SYNC® voice- activated communications system, an expressive color palette and available graphics

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2, 2009 – Ford’s hot-selling new Ford Fiesta will deliver more than just great looks and top fuel economy of any vehicle in its segment when it goes on sale in North America next year. The 2011 Fiesta – available in four- and five-door body styles – also will set a new small car benchmark for safety, connectivity and powertrain technology.

In fact, Fiesta will offer North American buyers a stylish new choice of 15 class-exclusive technologies and projected highway fuel economy of 40 mpg, besting the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris and Corolla.
“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,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. “We plan to answer the call with Fiesta; an all-new vehicle in North America we hope will set a new standard for small cars.”

Fiesta is the next milestone under the ONE Ford plan to design and develop vehicles that meet the differing needs, wants and expectations of customers around the world. More than 500,000 Fiestas have already sold to customers in Europe and Asia.

When developing the new Fiesta, Ford conducted extensive global customer research. Findings clearly indicated the need for style topped the list of customer desires everywhere in the world. In Europe, across North America and in the Asia Pacific region, customers are looking for a distinctively designed small car that offers world-class quality, convenience, comfort and connectivity.

“Fiesta was developed with customers, not just for them,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for global product development. “Fuel economy, spirited performance and efficient use of space are universal desires, across global markets – and Fiesta delivers.”

The anticipated new Ford Fiesta arrives in North America with strong consumer awareness, thanks to the Fiesta Movement program. With 100 social media mavens chronicling their experiences of driving European market Fiestas on American roads, Fiesta has generated more than 675,000 Flickr views and more than 5.5 million YouTube video views. 

Kinetics and aesthetics
Kinetic design imparts a sense of movement – even while standing still – harmonizing character elements to reflect global Ford identity, enabling Fiesta to project its own air of confidence, style and individuality. Fiesta targets a youthful “design progressive” mind-set, a consumer group that values style and diversity as worthy assets. 

“These influential, prospective Fiesta customers relate to the design philosophy of ‘energy in motion’ because it reflects their personal outlook and lifestyle,” said Kevin George, Fiesta design manager.

Up front, Fiesta sports the global Ford face, centering the Blue Oval badge on the grille over the signature inverted trapezoid lower grille opening. These subtle cues engender familiarity across the portfolio, providing aesthetic linkage between the distinctive new Taurus, the fuel-efficient midsize Fusion and the bold Fiesta.

Adding eyes to the Fiesta face are sweeping, elongated headlamps that frame and connect the hood to muscular, sculpted front fenders. Available in sporty five-door hatchback or four-door sedan body styles, Fiesta provides ample space for occupants and their gear.

At the rear of the car, many design elements merge, including the chamfered rear liftgate glass, the low roofline sweeping into a spoiler and dramatic taillamps with honeycomb detailing mounted high in the five-door’s corners. Muscular rear quarter panels, wrapped tightly, draw the eye to the wheels and Fiesta’s confident stance.

The Fiesta design is further enhanced with a choice of nine vivid new colors. From Bright Magenta through Lime Squeeze to Blue Flame, Fiesta’s broad color palette – more available colors than any other segment competitors – instills vibrant individuality.

Inside Fiesta
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.

The North American Fiesta features first-row bucket seats with a 60/40 split second-row seat.  Cloth or leather seating surfaces vary by trim level offering comfort, style and individuality.  High series Fiestas also offer leather with sporty contrast accent color piping.
Soft, sculptured surfaces and the centerstack layout provide the Fiesta with a sense of harmony. Intuitive switchgear placement, comfort zone seating and available ambient lighting allow a driver to maximize the mood with seven complementary colors – switchable among three levels of intensity – for interior accent lighting.

And Fiesta keeps it green; 25 percent of volume series SE seat fabric inserts are comprised of recycled content.

Fun, with fuel efficiency
Fiesta’s flowing sculpted hood covers a 1.6-liter DOHC I-4 engine with an estimated 119 horsepower and 109 ft.-lbs. of torque. Spirited performance and fuel-efficient economy are signature attributes with the Fiesta expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy at 40 mpg.

Fiesta’s advanced 1.6-liter engine features Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) allowing the engine to be downsized for fuel economy while continuously optimizing camshaft phasing for throttle response, performance and flexibility.

Big results from a small package are possible with several new technologies in this new global engine, including an advanced new front end accessory drive (FEAD) belt with stretchy dynamics to improve the engine’s thermal dynamics. The elasticity in this new drive belt eliminates the need for a belt tensioner and contributes to overall fuel economy.

Fiesta features a standard five-speed manual transaxle with gear ratios selected to offer spirited off-the-line performance and exceptional fuel economy for drivers who desire three pedals and a stick shift to maximize driving experience.

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.

Automatically game-changing
An available all-new North American industry-exclusive PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission combines the responsive performance and fuel economy of a manual transmission with the convenience of a traditional automatic in one advanced, dual dry-clutch package.

“Fuel economy leaders have traditionally been manual shift models,” said Pierro Aversa, team leader for transmissions. “Fiesta changes the game by offering an advanced PowerShift six-speed automatic that delivers maximum fuel economy.”

Twin internal clutches keep the PowerShift in constant mesh, always optimizing for maximum responsiveness or fuel efficiency, depending on input received from the driver’s foot on the accelerator pedal.    
This “dry” transmission operates with sealed internal lubrication, reducing internal friction and adding to Fiesta fuel economy. The lack of pumps and hoses reduces under-hood complexity, saves weight and also contributes to fuel efficiency.

PowerShift has been proven in Ford’s European market and will redefine North American small car segment expectations for responsive shifting and fuel efficiency.

Power steering conserves fuel
For confidence-inspiring on-road dynamics, Fiesta features Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) which reduces complexity while saving weight and fuel. This advanced system is speed-sensitive – providing optimized assist based on speed, cornering forces and acceleration or deceleration.

Ford is aggressively moving to EPAS across its product lineup. The system already is available in several Ford, Lincoln and Mercury nameplates, and by 2013 nearly 90 percent of Ford’s lineup will offer this fuel saving technology.

EPAS also includes Pull-Drift Compensation to help Fiesta track true regardless of road crown or side wind conditions. In addition, active nibble control helps detect and compensate for tire balance irregularity. Both features – enabled by EPAS – are class-exclusives.

Strength, safety, quality and quiet
More than 50 percent of Fiesta’s welded body structure is made from high-strength steel, with ultra-strong boron steel used in several critical areas. This rigid body shell contributes to Fiesta’s confident road-holding, best-in-class occupant safety and quiet composure.

Fiesta safety is enhanced by an array of features including dual-stage first-row air bags, a class-exclusive driver’s knee air bag, side air bags and side curtain air bags. AdvanceTrac® with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) is standard on Fiesta, along with seat belt pretensioners, rear door child safety locks and a Safety Canopy® system with rollover sensors.

Tested and proven on virtually every continent where you can drive a car, Fiesta arrives with proven quality and customer readiness.

“For North America, the global Fiesta was tweaked, not re-designed or re-developed.” said Steve Pintar, chief engineer. “We built on the success of the European Fiesta and are really proud of how little has changed.”

Fiesta NVH (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.

Much of Fiesta’s sound-absorbent materials are comprised of recycled content, helping to conserve resources as it preserves peace and quiet. In addition, Fiesta aerodynamics contributes to both NVH control and fuel efficiency.

Features and functionality
From class-exclusive automatic climate control to a standard aux input, Fiesta offers customers 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, a feature unique within the segment. Drivers of all sizes can adjust the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel to suit their individual preferences. Reflecting Fiesta’s versatility and adaptability, adjustable cup holders can accommodate Red Bull cans and Big Gulps along with every container size in between.

Fiesta also features Ford’s EasyFuel® Capless Fuel-Filler System, a North American industry-exclusive, as standard equipment.

Fiesta sales success
Fiesta is continuing its sales momentum as Europe’s No. 2-selling car and Ford of Europe’s top-selling vehicle, helping increase Ford’s share in Europe’s main 19 markets. More than 500,000 Fiestas have been sold since the car was launched last autumn. In Europe, the Fiesta name has long been synonymous with outstanding drive quality, design and value. It’s winning enthusiastic media reviews in Asia. Now, the all-new Fiesta offers North American consumers a stylish, fuel-efficient alternative.