While all Decembers are special because of the holiday spirit, December 2010 was extra special for me because I won my second Henry Ford Award for motoring journalism. I received a special award called Fiesta Connect, and it was for my cover story on the Ford Fiesta. That story came out in our August 2010 issue and it was entitled "A New Hope." (Yup, big Star Wars fanboy here.)
Among the prizes I won was a month-long lease of the Ford Fiesta. I was quite excited about this because I drove the Ford Fiesta I wrote about in Thailand (see photo), just a few days after their factory started churning them out.
I've never driven a left-hand drive variant, until a week ago that is.
This month I finally claimed my prize, and since a month-long loan is rare for us, I thought of making several blog entries about my time with this hot hatch. Think of it as an extended review.
Last week I picked up the chili orange Fiesta S (its signature color) and took it home. A lot more Fiestas are on the road now since its introduction to our local market during the fourth quarter of last year, but it's still a striking sight to see on our streets.
Ford's Kinetic Design direction is implemented heavily in the Fiesta, and the result is a compact car with relatively bold design elements: honeycomb grille, chrome grille accents, dynamic-looking feature lines, swept-back headlights, and a lithe athletic presence. If that sounded like a litany of modern design cues, then the Fiesta is guilty on all counts. It's difficult to believe that the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta are related. Despite the shared development, they obviously went separate ways once the engineers were done with the platform.
Once inside, I adjusted the cockpit to my desired seat distance and tilted the side mirrors to the necessary field of view (a routine we've grown accustomed to in our job). Then I was given a hint that the Fiesta was not a typical automobile. Subcompact market vehicles are built to sell in large numbers: They are as designed to please the most number of potential customers. In other words, subcompact cars tend to be the same.
I tried to adjust the Fiesta's seat angle at a more upright position. I never liked leaning back while driving; it obscures what I can see of the road. I couldn't find the lever that springs the seat to an upright position. I spent a few seconds blindly feeling for levers, and I found a circular knob that in my experience usually fixes the lumbar support. I twisted this and the seat angle changed. Eureka. My cousin from Canada commented that the seat adjustment is just like in Volkswagens.
The seats themselves are the second sign that the Fiesta isn't typical. The side bolsters are too snug, and I totally don’t mean that in a bad way. When a car seat grips your body's sides (or love handles in my case), this is a hint of sporty intent on the carmaker's side.
True to Ford's marketing statements, the Fiesta was designed to surround the driver. This is a very European way of thinking. The knee brace on the lower part of the center console reminds me of BMWs I've driven. You usually need this when cornering hard and the car's center of gravity shifts drastically, forcing you to find a way to anchor your body to the cabin--thus the knee-brace area.
At this point I've familiarized myself with the Fiesta (again) to the same level as a potential customer sitting inside the car in a showroom of mall display. But I have three weeks to go. Stay tuned.
Next: HVAC, ergonomics and audio functionsPhoto by Mikko David