The Truth - Drive Thru Auto Review
Monday, January 20, 2014
Paul Zangari, GoLocal's Drive Thru Auto Review
Fun, Fun, Fun…
The T-Bird may have been taken away but no matter: Ford’s little Fiesta is a blast to drive. This space-efficient little buggy is solid evidence that Motown has learned a hard lesson: Make small cars that give drivers what they want.
bigger cars and they figured younger drivers could buy “cheap foreign cars” until they had enough money and maturity Quick history lesson: Fifty years ago the Big Three ignored the small-car market. It wasn’t as profitable as to move up to more “substantial” vehicles. Stupid strategy: Americans quickly realized that many offshore cars were well-made and when Detroit dropped the quality ball in the 1970s hordes of buyers said “Sayonara!”
Fast-forward to 2014: Ford’s on a roll, with hotly-competitive models in most segments (except, ironically the top-end – but they’re working on Lincoln.) With Fiesta, Ford’s proven it understands that small cars don’t have to be dull or come across as cheap and cramped.
The Truth: Drive Thru Auto Review:
Paul and John Zangari are longtime automotive professionals and communicators.
Paul worked in classic car restoration then became a reporter in all-news radio. Later, he combined his interests, writing technical material for auto parts manufacturers and becoming the car-care guy on The Popular Mechanics Show on The Discovery Channel. He’s also written for Popular Mechanics, other magazines, newspapers and websites. Paul joined the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1985 and in the 1990s was a spokesperson for The FutureCar Challenge (later FutureTruck.) These were university-level engineering competitions, cosponsored by the US Department of Energy and Detroit automakers, which led to the construction of hybrid-electric research cars and trucks, precursors to the ones many of us drive today.
John has spent most of his working life teaching others how to service cars. His students have included both secondary-school pupils as well as professional auto-service technicians working at Toyota dealers in New England. Because of his work as an educator he’s attended manufacturer-sponsored classes to keep up-to-date with changes in automotive technology.
John has been a Certified Master Automotive Technician, through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (now “ASE”), since the early days of the program. His name was in the Hall of Fame of the Automotive Service Industry Association prior to the disbanding of that organization at the turn of the 21st Century.
What do they drive: Paul has a 1931 Chrysler roadster, three Chevrolet Corvairs and a 1990 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan. John has a 1964 Corvair 95 van and a pair of Toyota Priuses; he used to own a 1934 Rolls Royce and a ’26 Chrysler Imperial.
We sampled a mid-line Fiesta SE for a week. EPA rates its 1.6-liter four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission at 27 mpg city / 38 highway (31 combined.) With optional six-speed automatic it’s a shade slower but carries EPA numbers of 29/39 (33 combined.) Too bad no six-speed stick is offered with this engine; it might improve manual-shifting economy. Besides, if you enjoy shifting, having another gear ratio available lets you enjoy yourself even more. The crisp-shifting tranny certainly fits Fiesta’s character: responsive, with nimble handling and a comfortable ride.
This ‘n that!
NOTE TO AAA: Don’t bring a jerry can with a nozzle like the one pictured on road calls for out-of-gas Fords like our Fiesta! Ford’s Easy Fuel™ system is capless, so there’s no cap to lose. Instead, there’s a metal plate blocking the opening, meant to be forced aside by a solid filler nozzle. The ones on gas pumps work, so do jerry cans if they include a long, solid nozzle – even if it’s plastic.
Roomier than you may think:
Fiesta may be the smallest car Ford currently offers US buyers but the hatchback model provides space and versatility. John folded down the rear seats, removed the privacy cover and actually stuck a single-stage snowblower inside, through the large opening pictured; he says he was able to close the hatch, too. (Note to kid brother: Snap a picture next time!)
With the driver’s seat in my preferred position (additional info in next section) there was room for me to comfortably sit directly behind. No matter how you position the seat, though, you’ll find uphill-facing, manual-shift starts easy: Step on the clutch before releasing the brake and Fiesta resists rolling back long enough to let you start smoothly. It’s quite handy if you’re 16 and taking your first behind-the-wheel test!