An evening with the 2011 Ford Fiesta before the test drive

CarToq, invited by Ford for its media deep dive on the technology in the 2011 Ford Fiesta, got up close with not just the car but also the people behind it – the guys who designed the car, the guys who worked on the engines, and the people behind the branding and marketing of the car. For those who want a closer look at the car features, scroll to the bottom for a video of some of the car’s features.

As we had reported earlier, the new Ford Fiesta sedan will be powered by a choice of two 1.5-litre powertrains – a TiVCT petrol (twin-independent variable camshaft timing) and a TDCi (common-rail) diesel engine. Both these engines are mated to 5-speed manual transmissions only at the moment, though Ford may consider an automatic some months after launch based on consumer response. Ford claims these engines give good fuel-economy, at 17 kmpl for the petrol and 23.5 kmpl for the diesel.

We will be test driving the car tomorrow from Bangalore and Mysore to bring you a detailed assessment of the car’s engine and its performance.

Andrew Collinson explains the thought behind the new Fiesta's design

Meanwhile, we discussed the Fiesta’s design, safety features and the spare parts costs with the Ford team.

About the looks of the car, says Andrew Collinson, exterior design manager for Asia-Pacific, Ford, “Ford’s kinetic design language focused on getting a sleeker and more elegant shape, emphasizing the length of the car. We’ve given it a foxy-eyed look and a dynamic front end.” Talking about the interiors, he says, it’s been built “like a mobile phone, and the different parts of the dashboard have been inspired from sunglasses, binoculars and watches.”

The design of the car has a forward-leaning stance, which is meant to highlight its sporty feel, but this also results in a very high boot-lid. And the notchback-like, flowing  C-pillar results in a stubby boot, but it’s pretty deep and can swallow 430 litres of luggage. The rear-seats fold down as well just in case you need some extra space (a feature present in the Linea, but absent in the Vento, Verna and SX4).

Stefan Muenzinger, vehicle integration head, B-car segment, Ford, said plenty of emphasis has also gone into safety features in the car. The car has a 5-star NCAP rating and passing a 55 kmph crash test successfully. Says Muenzinger, “We wanted to provide a light, but solid feel to the car, and hence have used high grade steel in key structural areas.”

All variants of the car are likely to come with ABS and airbags as standard, a healthy trend we are seeing more carmakers adopt. Another first for Ford is the introduction of electronic-power steering in the Fiesta, in the interest of better fuel economy (less load on the engine). Ford so far had only hydraulic power-steering in their cars, a feature that has endeared them to many drivers for its positive road feedback and handling. The power steering apparently features “Pull-drift compensation technology” which automatically keeps the car in a straight line, when there’s a banking on the road (some roads are sloped towards the centre, some towards the side).

Those of you who were worrying about Ford parts being expensive, this is what Nigel Wark, executive director marketing and sales, Ford had to say: “The diesel Fiesta will have a 44 percent less total cost of ownership compared to its immediate competitors over a 100,000 km of service. The petrol Fiesta’s maintenance costs will be about 40 percent lower than the others.” Also read: Talking Ford with Michael Boneham.

That’s something buyers and owners of the new Ford Fiesta can validate over the 12 months.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of videos on the voice-activated controls in the Fiesta and its interiors. The voice interface is pretty intuitive to use and understands commands easily. You can control the airconditioning, the phone and the music system using voice commands.

Voice-activated controls demo:

2011 Ford Fiesta interiors: