First Look: 2011 Ford Fiesta

We've already driven the Ford Fiesta in Europe where the car has been on sale for more than a year, but the subcompact is just making its U.S. debut at the 2009 Los Angeles auto show. The new details and specifications of the U.S. model confirm that the Fiesta will continue the trend of moving subcompacts upscale while keeping fuel economy at the front of the discussion when it goes on sale in summer 2010.

The sole powertrain is a1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 119 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque and uses variable timing of both the intake and exhaust cams. Transmissions offerings include a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. While EPA fuel economy numbers aren't official yet, Ford is expecting the most efficient Fiesta to be a dual-clutch car equipped with a special fuel economy package that results in 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Automatic Fiestas without the fuel economy package are expected to be rated at 30/38 mpg. Manual cars, which aren't offered with the SFE package, should deliver a label of 29/38 mpg.

Ford hasn't released detailed pricing yet, but it looks like the company isn't afraid to offer a low-content model to undercut the Fiesta's chief competitor, the Honda Fit. The base Fiesta will make do with manual windows, whereas all Fits come with power windows. Standard equipment on all models will include a four-speaker AM/FM radio with auxiliary audio input, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, and Ford's capless fuel filler system. Fiestas also come standard with stability control, antilock brakes, and seven airbags, including a knee airbag for the driver.

On the flip side, we also expect the Fiesta to be at the top end of the subcompact price range when loaded up with options. Choosing available features like heated leather seats, push-button start, and a sunroof should easily move the Fiesta's price over $20,000. Other options include Sync, satellite radio, ambient lighting, and heated exterior mirrors. Ford will also offer personalization accessories such as 17-inch wheels, exterior graphics, and interior trim pieces. There's not a navigation system in the traditional sense, but the latest generation of Sync will provide turn-by-turn directions using your phone's data connection.

Americans can choose from either a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback body style. The cars feature similar styling, but are differentiated with unique grilles. While the hatchback retains a small slot opening that mimics the European Fiesta, sedans use a horizontal three-bar chrome grille that recalls Ford's larger sedans like the Fusion. Fiesta design manager Kevin George did tell us, however, that the grilles are interchangeable, so putting a three-bar sedan grille on a hatchback (or vice versa) is as easy as ordering the part from your local dealer. Ford will offer the Fiesta in nine colors, including bright magenta, lime squeeze, yellow blaze, and blue flame.

Fiesta is the first vehicle developed under Ford's new strategy to design and build products that can be sold globally, reducing costs with higher parts volumes. As such, the Fiesta sold in North America will share sixty percent of its parts with the versions sold on other continents. Already, the company has sold 500,000 Fiestas in Europe and Asia, and Ford eventually expects Fiesta family vehicles to account for 600,000 sales annually with roughly 400,000 more sales every year from vehicles that share the platform, such as the Mazda 2.

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