The Ford Fiesta is among the best of an impressive choice of recently redesigned subcompacts. Completely redesigned for 2011, Fiesta carries over with no significant changes for 2012. Some believe the second year of production is the sweet spot: All the bugs have been worked out yet the design is still new enough to offer the latest advances in safety engineering and fuel efficiency. If that's true, the 2012 Ford Fiesta is in the sweet spot.
The 2012 Fiesta comes in hatchback and sedan versions and the two body styles make distinct statements.
The Fiesta sedan is an interesting combination of an American style econobox with softened edges and a high rear deck (trunk lid). The Fiesta hatchback presents a more satisfying, Euro like profile, with nicely wedged side character lines and an almost sensuously rounded posterior. Choice is in the eye of the beholder, but both are pleasant and more than competitive in today's design conscious new car market. We prefer the hatch.
Inside, Fiesta features a voice activated infotainment system that augments the traditional AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with audio and podcasts streamed into the sound system via a Bluetooth link to a smart phone. Non voice audio controls and creature comfort settings revert to basic knobs and buttons that are sized and arrayed for ease of use with minimal distraction from the driving task.
Comfortable seats have enough side and bottom bolsters to keep occupants properly positioned, but gingerly, without obstructing ingress and egress. Quality of interior materials is either on a par with or a tick or two above the expected standard for cars in the Fiesta's class. Ford wants to boost this even further, too, with something not commonly found on cars in this size and price class: Leather seating surfaces and heated front seats are optional on the top of the line sedan and hatchback.
We found the Fiesta feels right at home running around town and on weekend errands. It slips conveniently into fleeting gaps in stop and go urban traffic and into space limited parking slots.
The Fiesta is powered by a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine. We found its 120 horsepower sufficient to tackle the daily commute in stride. The ride quality is smooth, important in the daily grind. Wind and road noise is decently muted. Steering feel is certain, the Fiesta goes where you point it, and it doesn't lean much in corners at responsible speeds. It handles long weekend drives well, also.
Fiesta is available with a 6 speed transmission that works like an automatic but gets the fuel economy of a manual transmission. This twin clutch, automated manual is the best of both worlds for people who like driving but live in the big city: there's no clutch pedal to have to work repeatedly yet the driver can engage in authentic manual transmission gear changes. There's also the traditionally better fuel economy of a manual gearbox. Fuel economy is an EPA estimated City/Highway rating of 29/38 miles per gallon for the 6 speed against 28/37 mpg for the standard 5 speed manual. Normally, an automatic would come up two or more mpg short of a manual.
2012 Ford Fiesta buyers can individualize their cars further, with two new interior packages featuring two-tone leather upholstery in black and red or black and white. A new Premium Sport Appearance package for the 2012 Fiesta adds polished wheels, blacked-out trim and, on manual-shift versions, a numerically higher final drive ratio (4.25:1 vs. 4.07) for snappier acceleration performance.
The 2012 Ford Fiesta comes as four door sedan or five door hatchback, all with the same 120 hp 1.6-liter four cylinder engine. The standard transmission is a 5 speed manual; optional is the 6 speed twin clutch, electrically shifted, automated manual ($1,095).
Fiesta S sedan ($13,200) comes standard with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a new driver's-seat armrest, 60/40 split fold down rear seatback, four speaker, 40 watt AM/FM stereo, power door locks and outside mirrors with new spotter mirror, carpeted front floor mats,rear seat heat ducts, and cloth door panel trim. Steel wheels with a eight spoke hubcap wear 185/65R15 tires. Options include a convenience package ($495) combining a CD/MP3 player with remote keyless entry and auto lock doors.
Fiesta SE ($14,500) comes with the Fiesta S convenience package content plus upgraded upholstery, metallic painted interior trim accents, power windows, trip computer, and 195/60R15 tires, still on steel wheels. Option packages include SYNC entertainment center with six speakers and 80 watts, redundant audio controls on the steering wheel and USB equipped center console ($595), and a sport appearance group ($545) that includes painted aluminum wheels, cruise control, LED running lamps and deck lid spoiler. Or bundle the two packages together for significant savings ($895).
Fiesta SEL ($16,600) has everything that is standard and optional on the S and the SE, plus rear seat floor mats, seven color ambient lighting, a second, rear seat auxiliary power point, auto dim rearview mirror, SIRIUS satellite radio, and leather wrapped steering wheel. Fiesta SEL comes with 195/50R16 tires on painted aluminum wheels. An option group adds chrome external trim, heated front seats, perimeter alarm and keyless door unlock/pushbutton start/stop ($795).
The Fiesta hatchback has two trim levels, SE ($15,500) and SES ($17,500). Standard equipment on the SE hatchback tracks the SE sedan's, as does the available package combining SYNC with a stereo upgrade ($595). Also available is the sport appearance group ($295) and a package combining both packages ($695), both cost less because the hatchback comes standard with a spoiler. Fiesta SES is equipped similarly to SEL and offers the same upgrade package, described above, for the same price ($795).
The 2012 Fiesta SES hatchback offers a new premium sport appearance package ($795) with polished alloy wheels, blacked-out trim, and on manual-transmission models a numerically higher final drive ratio. Also new is a two-tone leather option ($925), available in black-and-red or black-and-white, on the 2012 Fiesta SEL sedan and 2012 Fiesta SES hatchback. Single-tone leather is available in plum, cashmere, and black.
Options include a power sunroof ($745), keyless entry keypad ($95), illuminated interior accessories ($410), cargo organizer ($115), and various appearance items.
The Super Fuel Economy Package, or SFE, for the Fiesta SE hatchback ($395) and sedan ($695) comprises cruise control, partial grille blockers, side air deflectors, underbody shields and 195/60R15 T-rated (low rolling resistance) tires. It is available only with the automatic transmission, and it boosts EPA-estimated Highway fuel economy to 40 mpg.
Safety equipment that comes standard includes seven airbags, with dual stage frontal, front seat side impact, side curtain and driver knee, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, and child safety seat anchors (LATCH).