NUTS & BOLTS
Specs on the 2011 Ford Fiesta
Bottom line: This one is a winner. It easily takes on competitors such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris and Corolla. It's not quite a Mazda3, and it is nobody's Mini. But here's betting that Fiesta buyers, particularly those who take the top SEL and SES models, won't suffer in the least from Mini envy.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets very good small-car marks in all three.
Head-turning quotient: Smart and cute, in both the four-door sedan and the five-door hatchback. Credit Ford's stylists for the use of triple-layered metallic paint jobs in eye-popping colors such as Yellow Blaze, Lime Squeeze and Blue Flame. Also, kudos to the design team for a control panel that perfectly mimics the world's best cellphones in appearance and function.
Body style/layout: The 2011 Fiesta is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive subcompact designed for commuting and long highway drives. As a sedan, it is available in three trim levels: base S, midline SE and top-line SEL. As a hatchback, it comes as base S and top-line SES.
Engine/transmissions: The Fiesta comes with a base 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engine (119 horsepower, 119 foot-pounds of torque). Please note that other journals may report slightly higher horsepower and torque. But I've been advised by Ford and other engineers that the numbers here are closer to the mark. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A six-speed Ford-trademarked "PowerShift" transmission that can be operated automatically and manually is optional.
Capacities: The Fiesta has seats for five people, with tight space for three in the rear. Maximum cargo space is 26 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 12 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.
Mileage: I got nearly 40 miles per gallon on the highway driving the manual-transmission SEL sedan and SES hatchback. I did not have adequate city mileage to check city stats. But Ford and federal officials put it at 29 mpg.
Safety: Standard equipment includes seven air bags, among them a segment-exclusive knee bag for the driver. Ventilated front disc brakes are standard. But rear brakes are the traditional drum variety. Electronic stability and traction control are standard.
Prices: The Fiesta goes on sale in the United States in June. Base prices from $13,320 to $17,120, depending on model and equipment chosen.