2012 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback (1.6L 4-cyl. w/optional 6-spd automated manual)
Driven On 9/18/2012
Considering the Fiesta starts under $15,000, there's quite a lot of good within this little car. It's a terrific city vehicle and the interior is competitive qualitywise in the class. The driving experience leans toward sporty, but its limits are low and driver feedback could be better.
PerformanceNot much extra power in the Fiesta, and its automated manual transmission does little to capitalize on what is there. Handling is OK and largely limited by low-grip tires.
A near 18-second quarter-mile isn't going to break any records. Sixty mph requires 10.6 seconds.
Brake feel isn't great and 60-0 requires 136 feet, which is long for an SUV let alone a subcompact.
Decent precision and response. Feedback is minimal, but it matters little with the low limits that the tires provide.
Overall balance is decent, but we were surprised to find that the stability control threshhold is low enough to be discovered during street driving.
Ford's choice to fit the Fiesta with an automated manual instead of a traditional automatic is an odd one. This system is slow to respond and isn't as smooth as a true automatic.
ComfortAs subcompacts go, the Fiesta isn't comfortable enough, especially the ride quality. Still, it appears more thought was put into making the Fiesta functional than comfortable.
The Fiesta's seats provide average comfort. Honestly, no car in this class offers the seat adjustability we'd like.
Some attempt was clearly made in the Fiesta's suspension tuning at sportiness, which marginalizes ride comfort to a small extent.
The Fiesta is quieter than many of its competitors. Ford does a decent job of damping road and tire noise.
InteriorNothing inside the Fiesta looks or feels particularly expensive, but it seems well assembled and the interior is functional.
Most controls are well placed and easy to use. The three-knob HVAC controls are simple and easy to understand. Sometimes, simple is best.
The rather upright Fiesta makes entry/exit fairly easy.
Most cars in this class use their space well and the Fiesta is no exception. But its narrowness means the two front occupants are bound to bump elbows on occasion.
Great sight lines all around due to the large glass area and sloping waistline.
The hinged rear seats don't fold flat. In terms of cargo space, the Fiesta doesn't stand a chance against the Honda Fit. Good small-item storage though.
ValueAn ultra-low base price is a good starting point. Still, it's easy to option a Fiesta to $20,000. But this is also true of most competitors. We think the Fiesta offers good value.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Interior materials are not as nice as some competitors, but the Fiesta seems to be assembled well.
Ford's SYNC infotainment system gets you most of the tech features you'll find in other cars in the class. But the Fiesta's interior isn't as flexible as some others.
Stripper models start in the high $13K range, so the Fiesta is competive pricewise.
The EPA rates the Fiesta at 29 city/39 highway/33 mpg combined. A few competitors are marginally better, but these figures are attainable if you drive reasonably easy.
The Fiesta's basic warranty covers the car for 3 years/36,000 miles. Drivetrain coverage lasts for 5 years/60,000 miles, both of which are right around average.
The Fiesta comes with roadside assistance for 5 years/60,000 miles. Plus, Ford has improved the overall quality of its cars in recent years.
Fun To DriveWith sporty suspension tuning the Fiesta wants to be playful, but its low-grip tires and stability control tuning let it down.
As city transportation, the Fiesta will prove more than adequate. It's quiet out on the open road, but it lacks power. Plan ahead for passing maneuvers.
The Fiesta is a little bipolar. It wants to be fun, but there are some fundamentals lacking. Still, this is a fine machine for those seeking basic, affordable transportation.