Ford India is planning to launch the automatic variant of the 2011 Ford Fiesta by mid November. The car will be available for previews in the week beginning November 7, with a national launch expected a week later.
Redefining the Fiesta’s proposition
The 2011 Ford Fiesta has got a lukewarm reception after its launch in July this year, with sales figures of just about 610 cars a month. The manual transmission Fiesta is available in both petrol and diesel engine choices, with the 1.5-litre petrol putting out 108 bhp of power and 140 Nm of torque, while the 1.5-litre diesel engine puts out 89 bhp of power and 204 Nm of torque. It’s available in four variants each – Style, Trend, Titanium and Titanium Plus.
The Fiesta is known to be a great driver’s car with good handling characteristics and driving aids. It has a comfortable ride and decent levels of interior space and seating comfort. Adding an automatic transmission to the Fiesta will only increase those comfort levels for those looking for hassle-free driving or those who expect to spend plenty of time in crowded city traffic being freed from the hassles of constant gear changes.
Internationally, Ford has two types of automatic gearboxes that it offers with the Fiesta. One is a six-speed automatic “Powershift” with a dual-clutch system that is supposedly 10% more fuel efficient normal automatics and has faster gearshifts. The other is a “Durashift” system with a five-speed automatic gearbox. We expect Ford to equip the Fiesta in India with the Durashift, five-speed automatic transmission.
This transmission is known to have a sporty character and should complement the car pretty well. It has a tiptronic mode allowing for manual shifts as well. It could also better some of its competitors – the Hyundai Verna offers only a four-speed automatic variant, while the Honda City’s five-speed automatic variant is a regular torque convertor which has more power losses than a dual-clutch system.
The only other car that offers a dual-clutch six-speed automatic in this segment is the Volkswagen Vento petrol automatic.
While the petrol variant of the Fiesta will definitely get the automatic transmission, in the Titanium plus variant (top-end model), there is speculation that Ford may also offer the automatic variant with the diesel engine as well, given that there’s a higher demand for diesel cars than petrol cars. Also there is a dearth of diesel automatics – the only other car in its segment with a diesel automatic is the Hyundai Verna CRDi SX(O) automatic.
Features and accessories
The Fiesta automatic will come with all the bells and whistles that the Titanium Plus variant of the Ford Fiesta sports such as automatic climate control, voice command system, Bluetooth phone control, power-fold mirrors, two airbags, ABS, cruise control and integrated Radio/CD/USB/Aux-in music system.
The Ford Fiesta is among the more expensive cars in its segment with the manual petrol variants ranging between Rs. 8.23 lakh and Rs. 9.42 lakh, while the manual diesel variants range between Rs. 9.27 lakh and Rs. 10.42 lakh.
With the addition of the automatic transmission, expect prices to go up by about Rs. 80,000 on each of the variants, making it likely that the petrol automatic will be priced at about Rs. 10.22 lakh, while the diesel automatic (if offered) will be about Rs. 11.22 lakh.
Just to give you an idea of what other automatics in the same segment costs – the Honda City automatic is priced at Rs. 9.37 lakh and the Hyundai Verna automatic petrol is priced at Rs. 9.65 lakh, while the Hyundai Verna diesel automatic is priced at Rs. 10.75 lakh. The Volkswagen Vento six-speed automatic is priced at Rs. 9.22 lakh.
The addition of an automatic transmission variant to the Fiesta line-up is a welcome move by Ford, as it adds convenience to the Fiesta driving experience. Ford will do well to offer the automatic transmission choice with both the petrol and diesel engines, giving customers more choice.
We shall bring you a full review of the Ford Fiesta automatic in the second week of November.