Archive for August, 2010

North American Fiesta vs European Fiesta

  

             Well, the US Fiesta is not the EU Fiesta, and some of that is for the better. So much of the US Fiesta has been improved on over the version from across the pond. The biggest improvements are on the inside, where my expectations where exceeded in just about every square inch of the interior. Where the US car falls short is that the fun to drive factor has been halved.

            When I took delivery of the EU Fiesta over a year ago, I noticed how quick the car responded to the slightest blip of the throttle. The car felt very quick to accelerate around town, and it was a blast to go bombing down highway on ramps. The EU Fiesta had a close ratio gearbox, and an engine that was tuned more for fun than MPG. That was exactly how I like my cars! The Fiesta had wonderful mid-range power, and the gear ratio’s were close enough to make 3rd usable on twisty roads. This is where the US Fiesta suffers the most. The power band has moved to places only F1 cars and Honda’s live. The gear spacing is far enough apart that it feels like you went from 2nd to 4th and forgot there was a 3rd gear. The US Fiesta lacks the punchy acceleration around town, and also lacks a powerband that makes the car fun in the twisty bits. The suspension is still amazing on the US car, but the engine tuning and gearbox hinder the car to the point where the suspension can’t get a good work out. I am hoping some engine remapping and some slight modifications will increase the mid range power so that the gear ratio gaps don’t feel as big. In order to get anything usable out of 3rd gear, you need to rev 2nd to near redline, or else the shift into 3rd feels like you just deployed a parachute.

            Now that the biggest fault of the new Fiesta has been discussed, its time to move to what they got right. The interior is awesome! I thought the EU one was good, and I felt it needed very little improvement. I was shocked at how many things were improved on the US car. The seats feel like they were stolen from a Mercedes. The gaps on all the plastic trim is tight with practically zero overhangs. Even the silver paint used on the trim is very upscale looking. So far, the only faults with the interior are the lack of “Oh sh*t” handles, loss of volume control on the steering wheel, and no hooks to hang a suit coat. Yeah, that is about it for faults. The steering wheel design is not as good, and the thumb rests are not as pronounced as they were on the EU design. After driving for a few weeks, I am used to the redesigned steering wheel and find it to be ok. The lack of volume control on the wheel is very annoying since I am always hitting the “phone” button thinking it’s the volume up button. Sync is working well, but there is a steep learning curve to figure it all out. The seats are well supportive and very comfortable, and are not too soft to mask what the car is doing underneath you. The team that worked on the interior did a great job.

            The exterior is beginning to grow on me and some people actually like the US bumpers better than the EU ones. I prefer the shorter overhang, larger air intakes, and the fog lamps. Adding the body kit has really helped, and so did wrapping the chrome LED bezels with black. I am slowly getting used to the US nose, and its growing on me. I used to really dislike it, but it’s not that bad. The quality of the exterior is outstanding and all the gaps look to be very equal. A nice addition is the clear bra that is added to a few spots that were chipped on the EU Fiesta. Sadly, I covered up the entire clear bra with the body kit, so I will need to order some bulk clear to add some chip protection.

            Overall, the US Fiesta is a great car. The average consumer probably will never notice the gear ratio gaps or the lack of punch since they never drove the EU version. The US Fiesta is very refined, quiet, and good mannered for a daily commute. I miss raw punch of the EU Fiesta that made the car feel like a go kart with a roof, but I do enjoy the refinements in the cabin. If Ford could have blended the gearbox and engine from the EU car into the US version, they would have the absolute perfect car. The obsession with MPG numbers chased away the fun cogs and replaced them with a set of boring ones. I am sure I can find a way to make a few changes to the car to bring some of the fun back. Thankfully, the rest of the car is wonderful and needs no improvement. The car has a good balance that should make many consumers happy on our side of the pond.

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