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‘Tailored’ or not, Fiesta fits

The new Ford Fiesta is a world car in every sense of the word.

The new Ford Fiesta is a world car in every sense of the word.

But, in the words of a Ford Canada press release, the Fiesta, will be “tailored” to meet customer preferences for interior features, exterior colours, body styles and other options in each region of the world.”

“Tailored” usually denotes a good thing, but when it comes to Fiesta, it means less of something we might want.

First off, there will be no three-door hatch models. We’ll get five-door hatch models, and a yet-to-be-seen four-door sedan.

It also means less engine options. In fact we’ll probably only get one — the 1.6-litre gas-powered Ecotec — while European customers get six. So don’t look for the smaller fours, or any diesels, like the super-efficient one in the Econetic Fiesta, which helps the model achieve a combined city/highway fuel efficiency rating of 3.7 L/100 km.

That kind of tailoring reminds me of the cat across the street. He got “tailored” and now he’s no longer in the kitten-making business.

And North Americans have already suffered from Fiesta “tailoring,” as we’re not going to see our versions until next summer, when they come off a Mexican assembly line as 2011 models.

Fiesta models have been on sale in Europe since last August, where they have been a big hit, becoming Ford’s fastest selling model. Its home plant, in Cologne, Germany, has already produced over 250,000 units.

A second Fiesta plant was added in Spain. Another version of the Fiesta will also be built in China and Thailand, for Asian, South African, and Australian markets. Customers in those parts of the world can buy their Fiestas this summer. I don’t know if you noticed, but that puts us last on the list.

I had a chance to drive a European model recently — a five-door hatch model, equipped with the 1.6-litre Ecotec “four” and a five-speed manual. Ford Canada brought this particular vehicle over from Europe, and doled out test rides to the press, in 10-minute increments. I think this is a plot to keep potential buyers thinking about the Fiesta, and not drifting to off to subcompact competitors that are already on the market, like Fit, Versa, Yaris, Accent, Rio, etc.

Well, I’m here to report that their evil plan might work. It’s certainly the best-looking subcompact on the market. Add great road manners: Quiet, comfortable, and agile. The interior is very modern and features a centre stack that evokes the look and feel of a cellphone (this is good, I think).

Only the back hatch is a bit of a let down. The rear seats don’t fold down flatly or neatly, and it seems a bit unfinished back there too. It doesn’t have the utility of something like a Honda Fit, which is about a foot longer and way more cargo friendly.

But let’s be clear, this is a stellar, small car. Here we have a global car, an efficient, tidy car, and a great looking and performing car. When, and in whatever “tailored” form it arrives in, it will be great for consumers, and for Ford.

– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

 
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