Archive for August, 2009

Elegance of Design

 

            The other night I was stopped in the parking lot at the golf course by some gentlemen asking about the Fiesta. They were very impressed with the well appointed interior and the styling. Wherever I go with the Fiesta, people are always shocked to see such how nice the car is. Many of them remember small cars of the past, and a few current ones, that looked like the automakers were forced to make something small and fuel efficient. Car companies spent very little time designing and engineering the cars, and just focused on making them as cheap as possible with little regard for anything else. Not so with the Fiesta.

            What strikes people first is how elegant and eye catching the body is. The large front lower air intake centered between swept back headlamp housings. A sharp body character line that starts at the sides of the front bumper and extends thru the belt line. Body colored door handles with chrome accents around the base of the greenhouse really add sophistication to the body. The lower grille really makes the Fiesta look aggressive, without being arrogant like many other car designs. The outside is like 007 when wearing his tuxedo, rather than a WWE wrestler. Sophisticated, elegant, high-class, and balanced is the best way to describe the Fiesta.

            Once you open the doors, and stun them with the keyless entry, their eyes grow bigger at the sight of the interior. Gone is the hard glossy plastic of other small cars. Leather wraps the seats and sides of the steering wheel. The shift knob is a nice mix of leather, chrome trim, and silver. The gauge cluster is very futuristic, but still maintains sophistication with its long red needles and well-proportioned fonts. Questions always come up when people see the center stack and 4″ LCD display. They want to know what the buttons do and what the screen is for. Everyone is pleasantly surprised at the news that the Fiesta has Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod interface. All of this in a small car? Yes, this is what the Fiesta is all about.

            People don’t even have to drive the Fiesta to see what a huge departure it is from other small cars. No longer does the interior look like it was made from the cheapest materials on earth. The body doesn’t look bubbly or out of proportion. The Fiesta doesn’t look “cute”, it looks elegant and purposeful. The car is in perfect balance with a strong visual presence, modern technology, and materials. If you love the way it looks, wait to you drive it!

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A Glimmer of Hope

Perhaps all of this doom and gloom over the spy pictures is what is supposed to happen when you look at them. I try my best to read into what is going on, mostly because my future car depends on it. There really is a flip-side to these pictures. Part of me is still wants to believe that the pictures are designed to mislead people. They are doing a great job of that! Maybe the dash is covered in attempts to get me to think the production car will be different, when in fact, it will see very little changes. The front bumper treatment could be early shots from a mold and have no intentions on going into production. It is very hard to figure this all out being an outsider, so Ford’s plan is working. That is assuming it is their plan. I still want a Fiesta, and I believe in Ford. I think “One Ford” still has a place, and perhaps it will happen. It is hard when history shows otherwise, and being skeptical is well warranted. There is no doubt that the current EU Fiesta is one of the very best cars made, and I will work as hard as I can to make sure the US car is as good. This may mean I am overly critical on simple things, but it is because I care deeply about Ford’s future. I want them to succeed, I need them to succeed! After all, my next car is in their hands! If Ford’s camo is designed to throw off people, it is working great. The US deserves a good small car, and the Fiesta is that car.

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“Please Feed the Animals” Donation Day with the 2011 Ford Fiesta

“Please Feed the Animals” Donation Day with the 2011 Ford Fiesta

Come see the 2011 Ford Fiesta, and help area animal shelters for Fiesta Mission #4

 

Saturday August 15th 12pm-2pm

Tri Cities Credit Union

905 Pennoyer Ave

Grand Haven, MI

 

Description 

Here is your chance to check out the new 2011 Ford Fiesta and help a great cause at the same time. For the August Mission, I have teamed up with local animal shelters and the Tri Cities Credit Union to host a donation event. Our goal is to receive enough donations to fill the entire Ford Fiesta with pet supplies! I need your help to reach this goal, so please mark your calendars and bring some supplies to help sheltered pets.

Here are some items the shelters are looking for;
Cat Litter
Canned wet dog/cat food
Paper towels
Cloth towels (beach, hand, ect)
Bleach
Antibacterial Hand Soap
20-lb white copy paper
Blankets
Dog/Cat treats
Garbage bags
Stainless steel cat/dog dishes
Rabbit Food
Hand sanitizer
Dog Toys
New/Used Cat carriers
Litter boxes
Band-aids
Stamps
Cotton Balls
Gas Cards

Cash donations

The event will be featured as a Fiesta Movement Mission Video on YouTube. For more information about the Fiesta Movement, please see www.fiestamovement.com/agent22

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1404346668&ref=name#/event.php?eid=155467441144&ref=mf

 

Hope to see everyone on Saturday, and please bring some supplies to donate. This is a great opportunity to see the new Ford Fiesta and help animals in need. If you can’t make the event, but still would like to donate, please email me at Bryan@racetech0722.com and we can work out the details. Donations can also be dropped off at the Tri Cities Credit Union during business hours.

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Tom Helner Test Drive

 

One of the nice things about the Fiesta Movement is that I get to meet and interact with all sorts of different people who are interested in the Fiesta. For the most part, many of them are just like me. Some I have met in person and some live outside the United States and rely on Facebook for communication. Then are those that I have met on Facebook, but live close enough to meet in person. One of which is Tom Helner. Tom contacted me on Facebook many months ago by sending me an article about the Fiesta Sport model being introduced in Europe. As a huge fan of the Fiesta with the aero package, not to mention I am a fan of anything Ford that is in Europe, I enjoyed the article he sent.

Yesterday, Tom was in town visiting family and had a few minutes to check out the Fiesta. His comments mimicked what most people say about the Fiesta; “any chance for a 3-door?” “How much of the car will change for the US version?” “An EcoBoost version sure would be great!” and “The Fiesta is stunning in person!” Tom and I talked about what possible changes the US car would get, and tried to figure out why anyone would want to make any changes to the Fiesta. As most car guys do, we studied the back of the engine compartment to see how much room there would be for a turbo. Tom sat in the seats and noted how good they are, and how the lower seat could use more bolstering and not less. Being a European car fan, he wanted to see the rear mounted fog lamp, which will sadly be missing from our version. Tom has had a few VW’s over the years, including a Gti, so he is wondering how the new Ford will compare. This morning I got a message from Tom on my Facebook page, and I thought it was worth sharing.

 

“Thanks again Bryan! It dawned on me on the way home that the drive up there, the Fiesta drive and the drive back was the first “fun” drives that I have had in a long time. That old 30 mile Detroit commute really kills the fun in driving, and the roads here are just SO much more fun!

Let me know if you make it to Dearborn again….I owe you a beer!”

 

            What really struck me is that Tom said it was the “first fun drive” he has had in a long time. That is the essence of the new Fiesta. It is a fun car to drive, it brings joy back to being in a car. Many people have no passion for driving, no passion for the car. People buy a car to get from point A to B with the least amount of interaction as possible. I don’t understand people like that. I want to be part of the driving experience! I want to feel what the car is doing, feel each mechanical devise as it functions, feel the tires as they interact with the road surface. The Fiesta provides that type of driving enjoyment! It is a car designed for people who like to drive. Very few automakers manufacture cars for people who actually enjoy driving. Too many cars isolate the driver from what the car is doing, and turns the driver into a passenger. I will never own a car like that, and there are many more who think like I do. If you have not driven a new Fiesta yet, please find a way to do so. You will be reminded of the fun that a pure driver’s car delivers!

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Post-Test Drive Thoughts

 

The other day, a user by the name of RT posted this excellent review of a Fiesta he test drove during a Ride/Drive event. Besides the thoughts about the arm rest, I agree with his comments about the Fiesta. I am not sure if all Fiesta’s have the telescoping wheel, but my Fiesta Movement car does have it. There is also tons of adjustment with the telescoping wheel, more so than other cars I have driven. His tester may have not had this option. Below is his review, with my comments added.

 

Bryan,
Thanks for the detailed thoughts on your loaner Fiesta. They are very worthwhile.

I went to the Fiesta Movement Ride & Drive at Venice Beach this morning, and test drove the automatic Fiesta with ~98 hp (the manual ones had the 1.6Ti-VCT. Here are my thoughts.

Power: I was very surprised at how quickly a car with so little power and a 4 speed autobox could get up to speed. It’s slow, sure, but not as slow as I was prepared for it to be. The autobox is decidedly mediocre, but Ford has already announced that 6 speed Powershift is coming, so that isn’t a worry. I think the ~118 hp 1.6 engine ought to be adequate, but who wouldn’t want more power (see below)?

Ride/Handling: What I was impressed with was the steering and handling. The directness and transparency of the steering was a surprise. It is step or two better than the Fit, and I thought the Fit was really good. If the steering has a demerit, it’s that it feels a bit artificial, but I guess that is unavoidable with electric steering. Nonetheless, most hydraulic steering cars that I’ve driven do not have this amount of precision, so this is a minor complaint. The car cornered quite flatly (the only lean clearly came from the 15″ tires’ sidewalls, which is an easy fix: get 16’s), and the car changed direction rapidly with zero drama. The ride was surprisingly comfortable without being floaty, which was really nice. I didn’t have a chance to take it on the freeway, but it was plenty stable at 50 mph and from my conversation with the FM representative, it’s pretty stable at freeway speeds, which is good, since I found the Fit a little skittish at freeway speeds.
One of my friends has a Mini Cooper S that I had the opportunity to drive a good bit, and while the Fiesta obviously doesn’t handle as good as the Cooper S, I prefer the way it drives and handles. While the Mini is stellar, is a very nervous car, and its nervousness, combined with the flintiness of the ride, was off-putting to me. I doubt that I could live with the Mini every day, while even in just a 20 minute spin around the streets of Venice, I became confident that I could live with the Fiesta every day from a ride/handling perspective.

RT, I have to agree with your assessment about the precision of the steering. Only my Mustang with its race spec suspension and needle bearing steering shaft has steering that is as good as the Fiesta has from the factory. The tires also give outstanding road feel, which translates into a car that is very confident when pushed. While autocrossing or on the track, the Fiesta feels like it is an extension of my arms and responds instantly to my commands. This car is truly meant for people who like to drive! I have driven a Mini Cooper S, and found the ride to be harsh compared to my SVT Focus and the Fiesta. I thought I would like the Cooper S more after driving one, but felt it wasn’t as good as my SVT Focus. I did not get a chance to really push the Cooper, so I am not sure how it compares.

Interior: I like the Fiesta’s interior. It seems plenty intuitive to me. The controls had a good feel to them, the instruments were intuitive and legible, and both and are logically located. Exterior visibility is also excellent. The front seat was very easy to get into position and quite comfortable. It could do with a longer thigh cushion, though, and a bit more bolstering. Otherwise, I really liked the front seats, and am pretty sure that I could settle in for a long haul in them. The only two demerits I have for the front seats are that the material along the window sill, which is where I like put my elbow when cruising, is plasticky and rough and that the car does not have an armrest between the seats. The former is unlikely to get fixed, but the aftermarket can fix the latter is Ford won’t.
From the driver’s seat perspective, the Fiesta outclasses the Fit and Cooper in my opinion. The Fit has good seats and instruments, and stellar visibility. The stereo is fiddly, however, and the steering wheel doesn’t telescope, making it a bit harder to get a seating position that is completely comfortable. The Mini has awesome seats (especially the sports seats), but visibility isn’t as good, and the controls are awkwardly placed and the instrument placement is terrible.
Moving to the back, the rear bench is comfortable enough, but it isn’t as good as the Fit in comfort: the Fit’s higher roof and slight increase in leg room makes a big difference in such small cars (I’m not going to even bother discussing the Mini here). The cargo space is also excellent (it can fit as much with the seats up as my e46 323i), but again the Fit outclasses it in this respect. The Fit has ungodly amounts of cargo space for such a small car, and the trick fold flat seats and foldable rear bench are really nice.

I also wish for more bolstering, as the seats allow me to slide around too much during “spirited” driving. I have heard the seats will have less bolstering and will be more flat than the EU cars. That is sad because I will slide all over in them. I am not a fan of center arm rests as they always get in the way. Perhaps I have not driven a car with a good one, so I am very much against having an obstruction behind the gear lever. I do have to agree about the Cooper’s interior. I really liked the Mini, until I drove one and realized how cheap the interior felt. I did not care for the layout of the dash, but loved the toggle switches. The first gen Focus has a much better interior, and the EU spec Fiesta is outstanding compared to the Cooper. For me, the Fiesta is fine for rear cargo room since it passed the test of hauling 4 race slicks and all of the equipment needed for a day at the track.

Here was the interesting bit: I went on my drive with the site manager, and he said that the Fiesta WILL be available with an Ecoboost engine, possibly at launch. I’m hoping he has good information, because ~150 hp in the Fiesta would be incredible. If not, then aftermarket companies are going to have a field day with this car: it has plenty of under hood space, so Saleen, Roush, Mountune, etc. have plenty of space to play with.

The subject about the EcoBoost engines is still an unknown as I hear the Focus will launch with the EcoBoost, but the Fiesta will not. I have also heard the exact opposite, so nobody is really saying what is going on. There is no doubt than an EcoBoost Fiesta will be a blast. I just hope the US version isn’t so stripped down that nobody will want it, regardless of the engine. I would rather lose the turbo and keep the leather, keyless starting, and the options from Europe. The worst will be to lose the nice options, get a stripped down car, and not have a performance option. At that point, Ford just made an Aveo with an oval on the bumper.

My preliminary assessment comparing the Fiesta and Fit is that the Fiesta has (for the price and class) an excellent driving experience combined with adequate passenger accommodations and cargo space, while the Fit has a solid driving experience combined with very good passenger accommodations and cargo space.

Thanks RT for your detailed description! Before I give the Fiesta back, I need to go out and drive a Fit to compare. For me, the Fit is too pedestrian looking and I am not attracted to it. The style of the Fiesta draws me in, and then driving it solidifies how much I like the car. I just hope the US car isn’t stripped down; otherwise it will just be another failed attempt at a world car.

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