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Detailed review of US spec Fiesta from the NAIAS

17895 Views 79 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Chan
I copied and pasted the blog entry from Racetech Performance concerning my analysis of the US Fiesta after the NAIAS.

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.

Continued on post #2

More pictures can be found here: US Fiesta Detail - a set on Flickr
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continued from post 1

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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Illuminated Shift Knob

Note the different wheels from when the car was shown in LA

US Interior

base model cloth door trim panel

seat adjustment levers


Chrome LED trim bezels look out of place on the hatchback since there is not other large chrome peices present. These look way better on the sedan.

Mirror detail

The incredible sexy looking black headlamp housings

Black LED trim bezel on the hatchback

See how much better the black LED bezels look on the hatchback

The chrome ones look great on the sedan with the chrome grille, but just don't fit on the hatchback.

On the hatch, the chrome LED inserts detract from the trapezoidal grille, which is an important design element of the car. They also don't fit with anything else on the hatchback. With the sedan, they actually look good with the upper grille.

Aluminum pedal pads, which really should be included with the Metallic Package with the shift knob and sill plates. These are Ford parts from Europe, and hopefully will be available here. These look and feel great!

Illuminated Sill Plates

Check out the link in the first post for a complete list of pictures of the Fiesta from the NAIAS. There are detailed pics of the body kit, exhaust, Ford Racing suspension, and Brembo brakes.
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Try making identical pictures of your EU spec car, and put them next to the above pics (just edit your entry).
So you actually found out why only 60% of the EU version survived in the NA version! :)
I will work on doing that this weekend. Really, besides the air intake getting smaller on the front bumper and no fog lamps, the US team did a great job. I still like the EU bumpers way better, but I have grown to like the US ones. The interior enhancements are really good, and they made some outstanding improvements in the HVAC system. The traction and ESC have also be retuned for the US market to make them less intrusive. Honestly, the US team took a great car and improved it slightly. The end result is something outstanding!

Until I get the EU pics posted, here is the link to the detailed shots of my Fiesta: Interior Detail - a set on Flickr
Which means the light switch is basic and the rear mounted ''Fog Lamps'' are just auxiliary lamps that are dim on the US Spec Fiesta.
I guess I did not post the pic of the light switch, but it is just a basic off-parking-headlight rotary switch. The rear fog lamp lenses are just reflectors. The EU ones are reflectors as well, except half of the drivers side reflector has a bulb. The LED's come on with the parking lights, and are a very pure white. I really like the LED's, but don't care for the chrome housings on the hatchback. An actual fog lamp would have been better, but I am ok with the LED's. Playing around with driving with and without the EU fogs, I have noticed they really put out little useable light. Mostly just illuminate the area in front of the bumper, but are a far cry from an actual fog or driving light.
EU Interior

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Wow, I just noticed something different that I missed before. One of the US cars has silver bezels around the tach and speedo, but the insides are flat black. The other one shows the bezel being bright silver. I will have to look at some more pics from LA and see if it changes based on trim levels.
It needs an armrest/storage tray lid too to be complete. No auto headlights available right? The spec sheet mentions rear cup holders. Where are they?
Do you have a live picture of the rear door? I think there are no bottle holders in the rear doors are they?
Thanks for the detailed analysis and all the pictures BRGT350. Now I can't wait to see these myself at our auto show. Got to wait a couple months though. You mentioned the silver bezels; I noticed (on Ford's Fiesta website) that the silver trim around the radio and vents on the lowest level sedan were black. I actually think it looked better. Maybe it has black around the gauges also.
Just checked out all your photos on Flicker. What can you tell us about the engine? How far back does it go (In Ford's history) and are there any fairly new innovations on it?
There are pictures on Fords website that shows the Fiesta having bumper aux lamps on the bottom. So my assumption is that these lights come on with the parking lights as well.

Seen Here by what I mean.
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There are pictures on Fords website that shows the Fiesta having bumper aux lamps on the bottom. So my assumption is that these lights come on with the parking lights as well.

Seen Here by what I mean.
I don't think so - I believe those are just reflectors.

Bryan - GREAT write-up man. I really wished I could make the NAIAS show, but I didn't make it this time. Bummer!
The only way to tell is to crawl under the car and find out.
The only way to tell is to crawl under the car and find out.
Or check the spec info Ford sent out :D

The rear lights are gone - I have talked directly with Ford folks on this and it is just a reflector.

FWIW, I turned my rear fog light on once in 9 months - and it was just to see what the fuss was about. It won't be missed... by me at least. :)
Okay, here are the pictures side by side for easy comparison

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Good comparison Marc. I'm glad to see the US version has more room to rest your arm on the door.
The pic of the US car provided by Ford shows they are just reflectors. The rear fog lamp is very bright on the EU car, and I use it all the time because of the amount of heavy snow we get. No US car has a rear fog lamp, so there would be zero expectation to keep it.

There is a rear cup holder, it is located at the rear of the center console. The car doesn't need a center armrest or storage. Center arm rests can easily become in the way of shifting and are just a collection point for crap. Our Escape has one, and it full of crap that should not be in there. All that stuff does is rattle around.

I think the arm rest in the door is the same depth as the EU version, but the US one seems to be more padded and softer.

Correct about the black bezels on the lower trim cars and about no auto headlamps. I am ok without having the auto headlights. As for the auto wipers, I have found they work great in the rain on the EU car but don't work at all in the snow. For some reason, the auto wipers can't detect snow and don't cycle. After finding that out, I am ok with the US car not having them. For 8 months out of the year, I would need to operate them manually anyway.

The only real thing that I am going to miss is the clip to hold parking permits in the glove box. As odd as that sounds, I have found it to be a great feature. Rear fog light is nice, but I can find a way to add one if I want. The reflectors on the US car are different, so you can't swap in the EU version.
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