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Discussion Starter #1
Thursday April 30th, 2010 saw the last outing for the Fiesta at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven Michigan. The 2 mile, 11 turn complex is where I have been running my cars since 1997. Knowing that the Fiesta would be going back to Ford within the next few days, I drove the car a little harder than normal. The result was the car performing even better than it did last summer when I ran more reserved.
The only change I made to the Fiesta for this session was to adjust the tire pressures to what I thought they should be. Last July, I ran pressures based on Mission Control’s cold PSI recommendation of 42 psi. Adjusting for a hot target of 42 psi on all corners made the car feel less connected to the track. The traction control was very active with trying to control wheel spin, and after a few laps, the tires became too greasy to continue. I decided for this attempt I would set the pressures to 37 psi hot for the fronts, and 42 psi hot rear. Lowering the fronts reduced the tendency to understeer since I effectively lowered the wheel rate. Keeping the rears at 42 psi hot allowed for more oversteer since the wheel rate was increased. The result was a car than handled considerably better and I was able to run 9/10ths for an entire 20 minute session. From a driving standpoint, I changed my braking habits as I was getting brake fade last summer. I focused on going deeper into the corner, braking harder, but staying on the pedal less. This would allow for maximum cooling times between corners.
Session 1
I ended up gridding first, which meant the entire field was behind me at the start. There was a large group of vintage racers who where there to practice, and I really did not want to hold them up. Our group was for everything under 2.0L of displacement and a roof. After the first warm up lap, I let the field go by on the back straight so the racers could practice without traffic. That left a newer VW Golf GTi and a Civic Si for me to run with. The GTi was actually faster than all the racecars and lead the session. The Civic Si was at the back of the racers, so I ran with him. For 20 minutes, I was able to keep a constant distance behind the Civic. He was faster on the long straights, but I would catch him thru the slower corners. I adjusted my driving style to be more aggressive with my braking and turn-in. Instead of staying away from the curbs and rumble strips, I was aiming for each of them. I braked much later and was on the throttle much sooner than normal. Under hard braking I would get ABS engagement just as I was beginning to let off for trail braking. At mid corner on the longer sweepers or the 5-6 complex, I would lift throttle or touch the brake with my left foot to encourage rotation. Turns 3, 10, and 11 are possible places to use 2nd, but I kept it in 3rd and that slowed my lap times. The traction control may have come on in 2nd around those corners, which would be worse than leaving the car in 3rd and exiting at a lower RPM.
The traction control and stability control was much less active for this session, which I think was due to the tire pressure changes. The high speed esses of 8-10 would cause the stability control to engage, but it was not overly obtrusive. Since the system was there, I decided to exploit it by running more aggressive and just let the computer keep the car under control. Traction Control engaged only a few times, and mostly at corner exit when the track was bumpy. The tires kept their grip for the entire session and I felt no need to let them cool down mid session and take a few laps slower. I kept the car running hard for the entire session. Brake fade was present, but not bad. The pads seemed to fade to a point and stayed there for the session. My Mustang requires me to run a few laps at 8/10th and then a few laps at half speed to let the brakes and tires recover. The Fiesta needed no recovery time, it just begged to go faster. At the end of the 20 minute session, I was still behind the Civic Si. I was not fast enough to pass, but was able to keep a good distance. Besides, it is way more fun to chase than to be chased.
Session 2
The final session was cut short after a Mustang in the previous group suffered a mechanical failure and was stranded on track. Finally the car was removed and we could go out. The Civic and GTi were not on course, so it was the Fiesta and a collection of vintage race cars. I let the faster racers go by on the back straight, but did find one vintage race car that I could chase. The Fiesta was faster, and I would let off the throttle and coast down the straights so I did not have to pass him. I wanted to focus on my ability to follow closely to another car during the corners. The vintage car had more lateral grip thanks to slicks, but suffered down the straights. The session was cut short by diminishing sun light and only lasted about 10 minutes. I enjoyed chasing after the vintage racer, even if it meant slower lap times. I watched his line thru the course and tried to follow his or use my normal line to see where we ended up. The Fiesta is easy to drive at speed, and that allowed me to focus more on the correct line and braking points rather than fighting for car control.
Final thoughts
So many reviewers say the Fiesta needs more power. After running multiple sessions on a race track, I don’t think it needs more power. The car is perfectly balanced the way it is. More power means faster speeds, which means you need bigger brakes to slow down, which is more weight, and then you need a beefier suspension. It becomes an endless circle of change to get back to the car being balanced. The Fiesta is the perfect balance of power, gearing, braking, tire selection, and driver feedback. With less power, the driver can focus more on momentum and following the proper line. Lower lap times with the Fiesta are a result of being smooth and accurate with your driving. A high powered car can use brute force to make up for poor handling or car control. My Mustang is blistering fast on the straight, but suffers everywhere else. The Fiesta may suffer on the straights, but is a blast to drive thru the turns. The steering is deadly accurate as well. I could pick a spot at the apex I wanted to hit, and I had no problem putting the car on that spot. Braking was well controlled, and fade was minimal. Leaving the car in 3rd and 4th eliminated the issue of the sloppy gear lever and I did not worry about going from 2nd to 1st or 5th instead of 3rd. With the pressure changes the tires performed much better and I had little sidewall rollover. Traction Control was less obtrusive with the lower front pressures, and the stability control wasn’t fighting understeer with the adjusted pressures. Overall, the Fiesta has proven itself to be a worthy track car, an outstanding daily driver, a predictable winter traveler, and does it all at a fraction of the cost of most cars.



Pictures, video, and lap times should be posted soon!
 

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Nice write up. Once you get your NA Fiesta, I'll be looking forward to reading a comparison review from you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will surely do a review of both cars. I may only take my personal Fiesta to the track a few times. My wife will kill me if I start chewing up a set of tires and brakes every summer. I need to focus on getting my Mustang back to track use since I have a new set of Hoosiers that need to get used.

If you could only buy one car that would be good for open track, autocross, traveling, daily driving, winter driving, and gets 40 mpg, then the Fiesta is the only option! I doubt you could run a Yaris or Aveo has hard as I did, and have it go as fast as I went, and still gather a crowd when you pull into the pits. There were more people around the Fiesta than the new GTR!
 

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wow! the stock brake pads didn't get cooked? impressive. I was planning on removing the LED housings to use as brake cooling ducts and getting some EBC yellowstuff pads for my Fiesta. So I'll wait and see what it's like first. Waterford Hills does not have three straights like GingerMan so it's not as hard on brakes.
 

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ok so today I read this Ford Keeps N. American Fiesta Changes to Minimum

Consumer preferences also forced changes in the North American Fiesta. Among these modifications were the vehicle’s brakes. In Europe, consumers like “grabby” brakes, while in North America they prefer a softer feel, Pintar says.

“The rotors are the same, the calipers are the same and even the supplier, TRW (Automotive Holdings Corp.), is the same,” he says. “But in Europe, they go with much more aggressive semi-metallic linings that wear out faster.”
so it looks like I will need to upgrade the brake linings. I like "grabby" brakes like the EBC Yellowstuff that I'm using on my car now.

and this

Other changes made to accommodate North American consumer preferences include adding more cupholders and changing the seat reclining system from a rotary type to a lever.
I like the Euro Fiesta rotary knob. it's more adjustable compared to a lever.

and of course this

Europeans also are more apt to change from summer to winter tires, while Americans and Canadians prefer all-season tires.
all-season tires suck. I'm running on Bridgestone RE-11 summer tires now and they are awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The European pads are very grabby, really too grabby. I find the brakes felt the best when they are very hot and begin to fade. It is easier to modulate the pedal with a slight fade. With the EU pads, you apply a tad too much pressure on a heel-toe downshift, and the car dives terribly.

The seat lever sucks, that I am for sure of. Once you do get the seat adjusted, there is no reason to play with the lever or knob, so then its fine.

I hate all seasons, but the skid pad numbers show that the US all season equipped Fiesta's have more lateral accelleration than the EU version on sticky summer tires. I am still getting rid of them since I don't care about road noise, don't like all seasons in the winter, and I am going to a 17" wheel/tire. If you are keeping the stock wheels, I would say to keep the stock all seasons. You may be surprised.
 

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Rotary vs Lever

For car seat adjustments I much prefer the lever. Disengage lever, position seat, release lever. Having owned a couple of German cars (That shall remain nameless) with rotary knobs, they suck. It takes at least twice as much effort and two to three times as long to position the seat depending on how far you want to move it.

If the car is going to be driven by more than one person, the lever is the way to go. (at least it is for me);)
 

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I wish the levers had the infinite adjustment of the knob. It seems like I always want a postion that is between lever detents.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have been living with Recaro's for the past 15 years, so I love the knobs. The adjustment on the Fiesta is not bad with the lever, but it is hard to get your hand behind the seat and b-pillar. Either way, the seat will be 1 million times better than a certain car I have driven while on vacation.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
yeah, I don't really want to see another thread drift off into the land of Golf posting baseless comments and crap. We have 623 other posts that have been hijacked and ran into the ground.
 

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yeah, I don't really want to see another thread drift off into the land of Golf posting baseless comments and crap. We have 623 other posts that have been hijacked and ran into the ground.
Yeah, we don't want to have to throw any more happy-fluffy-kittens under the tires to bring it to a screeching halt. PETA will get pissed. ;)
 

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I hate all seasons, but the skid pad numbers show that the US all season equipped Fiesta's have more lateral accelleration than the EU version on sticky summer tires. I am still getting rid of them since I don't care about road noise, don't like all seasons in the winter, and I am going to a 17" wheel/tire. If you are keeping the stock wheels, I would say to keep the stock all seasons. You may be surprised.
I'll probably get a set of 16x7" wheels since the OE US 16" wheels are only 6" wide and won't accept a 215-section width tire according to the tech folks at Kumho. I'd run a 215/45-16 after seeing the H&R Fiesta in person. It had 215 width tires that were barely tucked under the fenders. It was also slammed on the H&R coilover kit but mine shouldn't be that low on the Ford Racing suspension kit springs. I will keep the stock wheels and tires for winter use :D
 

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Too bad my Fiat barchetta has levers instead of knobs, otherwise I could've been rambling about it throughout this thread...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I will have some pics up this weekend of the Fiesta on track, and the video should be ready soon. Don't expect too much out of the video since it is all wind noise. Track events require the windows to be down, and we had 50mph gusts at the track. I was going to open the drivers door down the back straight and use it for a sail!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fiesta track pics!



























Note how much more body roll the Civic Si has compared to the Fiesta


 

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ok so today I read this Ford Keeps N. American Fiesta Changes to Minimum



so it looks like I will need to upgrade the brake linings. I like "grabby" brakes like the EBC Yellowstuff that I'm using on my car now.

and this



I like the Euro Fiesta rotary knob. it's more adjustable compared to a lever.

and of course this



all-season tires suck. I'm running on Bridgestone RE-11 summer tires now and they are awesome.
It clearly appears that the Fiesta was "dumbed down" for the US consumer. I actually don't believe for one minute that consumers demanded these changes at all.


I wonder what ever happened to only changing the things that were required by DOT and EPA regs...

If folks want a Honda Fit or Civic they should go buy one.

I love the seat back knobs that give a infinite number of seat back positions ....All my other cars (german ) have had them...

I like sensitive brakes give me "grabby" over mushy everytime...This car is NOT a Taurus...come on Ford!!!!!!!


Also you should have had the option to get the EU tires as a no cost extra.
Unfortunately empty promises by Ford on this one!!!!!!
 
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