Thursday, 9 December 2010

Test Drive - the Ford Fiesta

On my final business trip of 2010 with over 90 days on the road this year, and the longest stretch at 6 nights away, I arrived at the airport rental car counter and felt a little like Clooney in Up in the Air. "We have an Impala for you, Mr. Tyrrell" chirped the young 'un with a tie. Yeah, I'm not quite ready for the old folks home. "Ummm, what else is available?" I asked. "Only a Ford Fiesta," he sympathized, fully in sync with my frequent traveler need to have my ego and fat-ass upgraded. Wrong.

"Sweet, a Fiesta!" I enthused. "Like in the commercials, I'll take it!" "Mm," he replied, hoping to get his back fully turned before he rolled his eyes. I don't care, it was sweet.

And so I found myself in a four-door Fiesta sedan, of the 2010 variety. White. No hatchback. Automatic. Satellite radio. Cool blue mood lighting inside. Incomprehensible driver info centre. No cruise control, no heated seats (don't judge me - heated seats are a safety feature).

And after a six day test drive, here's what I think.

Great: Zippy little car, great for buzzing around town. It accelerates quickly, responds nimbly, parks well, has minimal blind spots, great visibility out of the back window when reversing.

Good: It's pretty good on gas. Actually, it's pretty great on gas on the highway, but it's quite noisy. That may have been the snow tires, but no way was all that noise coming from the tires. So it's a catch-22. The best, and I mean an incredible 6.9 litres per 100 km on the highway gas mileage (kilometrage?) is where you least enjoy the vehicle. In the city it's OK on gas, not bad, but nothing to write about.

Room for Growth: OK, it's stupid and it seems to be a trend in cars this year, but where am I supposed to hang my suit jacket or my dry-cleaning if they aren't going to build those little hooks or even the "holy-sh*t" bars in the back? And if there's an interior release for the trunk I couldn't find it, and neither could my enterprising rent-a-car executive in training. And one thing that's standard on my old beater SAAB that the rest of the automakers could learn from the Swedes is to put a handle on the inside of the trunk so I can close it without getting my hands dirty on the outside lid, and without leaving those stupid finger marks that Customs guys are trained to look for.

Note to Customs guys: make the SAAB owners open their trunks for inspection even if you don't see finger marks. They've been shopping too, even if there's no obvious indication of them ever having opened the trunk.

But would I buy a Ford Fiesta? Well, yeah, but not the sedan. Gotta have my hatch. The trunk room and opening isn't good for very much of anything on the sedan, so I have to hope the hatchback is bigger. And at a pretty low MSRP I'd say it's got to be one of the better deals on the road.

Congratulations Ford.

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