Archive for January, 2010

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 picks up 2 wins in 24 hours!

 

What an amazing weekend for the Fiesta! I had been following the timing and scoring for the IRC Monte Carlo Rally on the computer for a few days. Each stage was watched online as I waited eagerly to find out where the Fiesta placed. At the end of the day on Friday, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished the rally in first place. On its very first competitive outing, the Fiesta S2000 picked up a victory. The second win would come just a day later in Qatar with another Fiesta S2000 driven by Nasser Al Attiyah. This coming weekend could see another win for the Fiesta, as Ken Block debuts the Monster Rally Team Ford Fiesta in the Rally America series. Racetech will be on hand for the Sno*Drift rally, and will have a full report when we get back. Until then, enjoy the official press release from M-Sport.

 

Dream Debut for M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 on Tarmac and Gravel

 

M-Sport, the Cumbrian based team behind the development of the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car, were today celebrating a dream debut which saw the car take international victories on two continents within 24 hours to cement a unique international debut for the recently launched vehicle.

 

Victory for Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen on the historic Monte Carlo Rally was supported by victory on the Q-Tel Qatar Rally by Nasser Al Attiyah and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in an Autotek supported version of the newly released car.

 

Only homologated by the FIA on 15th January 2010, the Ford Fiesta S2000, developed by M-Sport’s technical team under the direction of Christian Loriaux, took back-to-back victories in what can arguably be described as two of the toughest tarmac and gravel events in the international calendar.

 

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE was keen to point out the contribution made by all of the team towards this historic success: “This really is a perfect debut for the Fiesta S2000.  The performance of the car on both the demanding stages of the Monte and the incredibly rough stages in Qatar has proven the exciting potential of the car in all conditions. The results are a just-reward for the hard work and dedication that has been shown by everyone involved in the development of the car. Our technical partners have excelled and the fantastic team effort that has seen all the departments at M-Sport pull out all the stops to get these cars to the start-line under difficult conditions must be applauded.”

 

This weekend’s result is just the tip of the iceberg for the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car as M-Sport now begin the daunting task of delivering 22 cars to customer teams over the next six weeks with cars going to Finland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Poland, Portugal, Abu Dhabi and Italy.

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Analysis of the US spec Ford Fiesta

             Going to the North American International Auto Show gave me the opportunity to really study the 2011 US Spec Ford Fiesta. I was kept very busy during the LA Auto Show, and never really had a chance to analyze the US version. The NAIAS would give me the time to look over items that you just can’t see in photographs and ask questions that I have been thinking about since the LA Auto Show a month ago.

            For the exterior of the US Fiesta, I have really noticed that the chrome LED housings look better on the sedan than the hatchback. The chrome housings match very well with the chrome upper grille. Where they don’t fit is on the hatchback. There is no chrome on the bumper to tie into, and they look misplaced. This is the most apparent on the white “tuner” Fiesta that includes the black LED housings instead of the chrome. Instantly the car looks more sporty, aggressive, and younger. The chrome housings on the other hatches on display look less sporty and don’t fit the image of the hatchback model. On the sedan with its more grown-up demeanor and chrome upper grille, the LED housings look fine. Removing the chrome LED housings on the upper trim level Fiesta hatchback is what I recommend be done. In fact, regardless of what the factory does, I am planning on removing them on my car. The front bumper looks more aggressive with them black rather than chrome.

 

            Climbing into the interior, I noticed something else about the US Fiesta, something that really shocked me. The doors on the US spec car close with a much more solid feel than those on the EU version. I tried multiple doors on both US and EU models at the show, and the US car sounded more solid every time. I am not sure what was changed, but I am happy they changed it! Compared to my SVT Focus, the Fiesta’s doors seems to sound cheaper when I close them. The US Fiesta has that same solid sound that my Focus has, and it really makes you feel like you are climbing into a premium car.

 

            I spent more time in the interior, going over the feel of the controls and materials. The seats are surely more comfortable with more kidney support than the EU seats. The leather is also softer and feels richer than the EU version. I also tried the seat back adjustment lever, which was something I was against from day one. I was happy to find that the seat lever works well, and it is easy to fine tune the driver position. I was very impressed! The steering wheel suffers in the looks department, but makes up for it in feel. The thicker rim is nice and the material feels more upscale. The thumb rests don’t appear to be as well defined on the US steering wheel, which is too bad. The redesigned center console includes extra power points, which is nice since the EU version only has one. The USB inlet also looks to be in a better position on the US console than the European version. The lighted cup holders are just ok, and I would have preferred the overhead lights from the European model.

 

            There are some things that did suffer on the US interior. The EU glove box has a very well designed clip that holds parking permits and other credit card sized documents. That feature is sadly missing from the US glove box. I do have to say that the US version looks much bigger, but gives up some of the organizing features of the EU version. The knobs for the HVAC on the show cars did not seem to have the same feel as the EU version when they were cycled. In some regards, they did not feel as tight and precise to move. Chances are good that these early models have test parts and are not fully representative of the production version. By no means are the knobs bad, just not as precise as I would expect. The large center knob is also annoying to use compared to the buttons on the Fiesta Movement cars. The knob is the same that is used in Europe for cars not equipped with automatic HVAC. The temp display is also missing from the HVAC controller, which is really too bad. The buttons and temp display were part of the automatic HVAC, and that is why they are gone. Both will be missed.

           

            Another really nice feature of the European Fiesta is the rear seat belt buckle receptacle located in the C-Pillar. This allowed for the male end of the buckle to rest in a slot just below the rear window. I loved this feature since it kept the belts from banging into the plastic trim while driving. Since we are discussing the back seat area, it is worth noting that the rear head rests don’t slide up and down like the EU version. When the back seats are not used, the EU headrests push down to be almost flat along the top of the rear seat. This is not the case with the US version, and there is some restricted viewing out the rear view mirror. Surprisingly, the view is not as restricted as I would have thought on the US version. Leaving the EU head rests in their up position gives really poor visibility out the back. Not so with the US version, proving the designers worked hard to find a good balance of visibility and rear headrest comfort.

 

            The door panels are another area that was improved on the US Fiesta and they feature well padded arm rests built into the sides. The material where your elbows would rest on a long trip is very soft and is either leather or cloth depending on your seating surfaces. Both felt great, and are a welcomed change. The dash material is still the soft touch dash of the EU version, which I am sure is blowing the minds of all the nay-sayers on the Fiesta forums. Yes Virginia, the dash is soft and not hard plastic. I also noticed that the plastic trim around the radio controls, dash, and center display fit better than the EU car. The gaps are smaller and the pieces fit together much better. Another job well done!

            Overall, the US Fiesta received some very nice improvements. The European Fiesta is an outstanding car, and some of the improvements for the US market just make it that much better. The lack of an on/off switch for traction and ESC is still a huge drawback on both versions. I am hoping a solution can be found for the US version by the time the car goes into production. Everything I saw at the NAIAS concerning the Fiesta just serves to get me even more excited to take delivery of mine this spring. I will be even more excited if the chrome is gone and I can turn off the ESC! (hint, hint)

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