2009 Ford Fiesta

European High Style

The Fiesta adheres to the "kinetic" styling philosophy born and bred in Ford's European design studios and seen in such highly regarded European-market products as the Mondeo sedan, the Kuga crossover, and the Focus (a completely different beast than the aged car we still get in America). Dramatically elongated headlamps, bold trapezoidal grilles, muscular wheel flares, chunky rocker panels, and sharply drawn shoulder lines are the common characteristics of kinetic styling, and they are effectively used in the new Fiesta.

The car we'll get in America in late 2010 will look very similar to the Fiestas going on sale now in Europe, but we will get a traditional four-door notchback sedan as well as a four-door hatchback sedan. Ford has already given us a very clear indication of what our car will look like in the form of the Verve concept sedan from the 2008 Detroit auto show.

A Cell Phone-inspired Cabin

Marin Burela, executive director of small cars for Ford of Europe, says that when they conducted consumer research on the new Fiesta, potential customers "asked for style, and more style. And then when you're done," they said, "add even more style for good measure." So, the Fiesta's instrument panel sweeps and swells across the cabin, punctuated by a protruding center stack and a shrouded instrument binnacle in front of the driver. The secondary controls splayed out on the center stack were inspired by that ubiquitous accessory of modern life, the mobile phone, as a nod to the young target audience. There's a display screen above those slanted buttons, just like on your cell phone. It all works pretty well, even if the design is a bit busy. A pleasant padded plastic material covers the upper part of the instrument panel, and the plastics used in most of the center stack are decent enough, but the plastics in the inner door panels and the glove box are not much higher than Rubbermaid-grade.

The front seats of the Fiesta are quite comfortable. The Sport model gets thicker side bolsters. Legroom and foot room in the rear is a bit tight; a five-foot, ten-inch driver sitting behind himself found his knees digging into the front seat. The Fiesta lacks the Honda Fit's clever rear seat bottoms that can fold up to create a flat load floor. The hatch opens to reveal a fairly tall and spacious cargo area.

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