Fiesta

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2008 Ford Fiesta Overview

Ford's first major global car, the 2008 Fiesta, initially appeared in Europe, with a nearly exact version scheduled to arrive in the U.S. sometime in 2009. One of the few minor changes between the European and stateside versions will be a slightly longer front end, necessary to meet federal U.S. safety regulations. For the most part, however, the U.S. version of the Fiesta will mimic the European version's design and will retain its aerodynamic bullet shape, stretched-out headlights, trapezoidal grille, prominent wheel arches, tapered roofline, and rounded rear window. Ford calls it a "kinetic" design, and overall it's much hunkier and competent-appearing than the previous-generation Fiesta. It also will offer more interior space than the vehicle it replaces, as well as upgraded safety features and mechanical systems.

The new Fiesta will ride on the same B2XX small-car platform introduced for the MAZDA2 and planned primarily for use in the European and Japanese markets. The Fiesta's platform and structure emphasize light weight and strength, with an eye toward safety in crashes as well as fuel economy and sporty handling. Helping to ensure the safety of occupants are such features as a knee airbag, part of the vehicle's Intelligent Protection System.

Although exact U.S. specifications are not yet known, the European version comes in three-door (two doors and a hatchback) and five-door versions, with a choice of five engines, including an ultra-low-emissions ECOnetic engine, 1.25- and 1.4-liter gas engines producing 60 and 90 hp, and two diesel engines. Most engines will link to a five-speed Ford Durashift manual transmission, although one of the diesel engines (a l.4-liter powerplant producing 90 hp) will link to a four-speed automatic.

The interior highlight, according to Ford, is the Fiesta's re-envisioned center stack (the central part of the dashboard and console), which the automaker says was inspired by a mobile phone (a very large one, of course). Its futuristic design separates the three key elements of the audio system, including the control buttons, display, and underlying electronics, to create a more functional and visually appealing arrangement. Other features include an MP3 tray with a jack for charging the device, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Switches and buttons on the steering wheel also enable drivers to control the car's electronic systems.

Overall, the design of the controls and instrument panel carry forth Ford's HMI (Human Machine Interface) system, already available in the automaker's Mondeo, S-MAX, and Galaxy vehicles. Among other benefits,it allows for a large-screen display and other convenience features typically not available in small cars. Ford says it expects more than 85 percent of the Fiestas sold to include one of two optional multifunction displays.

Other features include keyless entry, reach-and-rake steering-wheel adjustment, ambient interior lighting, and an EasyFuel capless refueling system.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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