The just-launched 2011 Ford Fiesta, or the upcoming Hyundai Verna RB?

We just couldn’t help but wonder when we saw the new Ford Fiesta sedan being unveiled on April 14, about just how similar in form it is to the upcoming Hyundai Verna RB. It’s little wonder then, that Ford has planned this strategy of putting its new 2011 Fiesta sedan up for public viewing before Hyundai unveils the Verna.

As far as we know, the Hyundai Verna is now slated to be launched in the first week of May. This impending launch has urged Ford to unveil the new Fiesta sedan in New Delhi, with an all-India reveal happening simultaneously online.

2011 ford fiesta
Photo: New Ford Fiesta

Though the unveil was a bit of a dampener on the spirits of auto-enthusiasts as Ford didn’t reveal technical specifications or pricing for the new Fiesta, it is a good public relations move, as it helps Ford gauge public reaction to the car ahead of its formal launch, which would take place sometime in June. Think of this as a sort of auto-show display of the car. The Ford Fiesta sedan will remain on display at Select City Walk and select other destinations countrywide at what Ford calls “Fiesta Cafés” (yes, you can also order a cup of coffee there!). The Cafés also have little booths with iPads in them for you to sit back and surf the features of the new Fiesta, while you sip your coffee.

2011 hyundai verna photo
Photo: Upcoming new Hyundai Verna for India

We know Ford India has been keenly watching the rival camp. Why is Ford so concerned about the launch of the Hyundai Verna? Well, it doesn’t take genius to figure it out. Both these cars are direct competitors in almost every aspect.

Just look at the design of the two cars. Fluid-flowing form ending in a high rear. Check.  Swept back angular headlamps. Check. Yawning mouth grille. Check.  Get into the car and take a look at the interiors. The Hyundai Verna has electronic folding side mirrors, automatic climate control, parking sensors, audio controls on the steering wheel to name a few, and may include a Bluetooth stereo too.

What about the 2011 Ford Fiesta? Ditto. It has all the above and then some. Ford’s Human Machine Interface and mobile-phone like console design are a touch futuristic, but quite welcome. Safety features like ABS and airbags will be standard on the new Fiesta.

Ford has not revealed the specifications for the engines nor has it revealed the pricing for the Fiesta, in a well-thought out strategy. The plan is to wait for Hyundai’s pricing of the Verna before revealing the Fiesta’s prices, which we think will be aggressive going by the way the Figo was launched about a year ago.

We already know that Hyundai is going to bring the Verna in with a wide choice of variants and four engine options. Hyundai is likely to launch a 1.6 litre petrol that pumps out 122 bhp and a diesel that makes 126 bhp. It will also have a 1.4 litre petrol that makes 106 bhp and a diesel that churns out 90 bhp (these engines are also used in the i20).

Ford will have a diesel and a petrol offering. So far it’s most likely that the Fiesta will be powered by a 1.6 litre petrol that puts out 120 bhp, and a 90 bhp 1.6 litre TDCi diesel engine. But these specifications could change before launch depending on consumer feedback in the next couple of months.

The 2011 Hyundai Verna is expected to be priced at Rs. 6.50 lakh for the base petrol variant to as high as Rs. 9.5 lakh for the top-end diesel variant. Going by how Ford has reduced prices of the older Fiesta, now called the Fiesta Classic to create space for the new Fiesta, it is expected that the new Fiesta will be priced between Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 9 lakh. At those prices, and the technology on offer, the Fiesta does look very attractive indeed. Moreover, the existing segment favorites such as the Volkswagen Vento and Maruti SX4 will suddenly seem a little tame in the power specs, while the Honda City too wouldn’t have enough ammo, as Honda still doesn’t have a diesel engine on offer.

The 2011 Hyundai Verna vs 2011 global Ford Fiesta race has begun, with Ford getting out of the gates first.