We have always been a bit confused with Ford. The Detroit born automaker has become a huge sensation in Europe. One example of this old world takeover was the Mondeo. This sedan was so intensely popular that it spawned a new nickname, ’Mondeo Man’. Have you ever seen a Ford here in the United States that was that popular? We think not.
There are more examples of this as well. The Fiesta, Focus, Ka, and the ever famous Transit van have been dominating the European market for ages. Finally, with some persuasion, Ford is going to bring a few of those wonderful models to the United States.
The Fiesta has been in the shadows for most if its pre-release life. Ford has decided to attack the young audience with Facebook pages and all of that other nonsense. In our opinion, Ford needs to stop all this and get out in the mainstream, and we want to help.
So, here we have a lime-green Ford Fiesta with a five-speed manual transmission just waiting to be taken out on the roads, and we were more than happy to oblige. Yet, who wants a normal review, those are so dull. Awaiting the Fiesta was the gang of small hatchbacks that have already established there turf; the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and the Honda Fit. Now we have a proper test on our hands.
Hit the jump to keep reading.
Most of these reviews will wait until the end to show the results, but that’s just not going to happen today. Consider this a gift from all of us at TopSpeed. The Toyota Yaris was our least favorite, followed by the Nissan Versa, the Ford Fiesta, and the Honda Fit. Now that we have got that out of the way, you can either read on to find out our reasoning, head down to the bottom of the page to write an angry comment, or leave the page entirely. We’ll leave it up to you.
For those of you that have decided to continue on, we would like to defend our last place pick. Although we didn’t like the Toyota Yaris, we’re sure many will. After all, the thing is really cheap and people love to save money. Most money-strapped people will go for a used American car that has one foot in the car grave.
The Yaris is $2,605 less than the next cheapest car, but there is more than just a low price to this machine. It can accelerate step for step with the Honda Fit to 60 miles per hour and then beat it back to zero 13 feet shorter. Not to mention you get traction control, stability control, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. All that stuff is standard on the Yaris. If you can spare a few extra coins, equip the car with the Power Package. It really shouldn’t be hard to figure out what this package provides, as it’s in the name. This $1,705 extra equips the car with power locks, windows, AM/FM/CD player, and a split folding rear seat. All of those goodies matter a great deal to a small car.
On the road the Toyota feels like its price, cheap. That is a true shame because everything about the Toyota was shaping up to be brilliant, just to be let down in the area where most Toyotas are let down; driving dynamics. There are only four-gears, it’s noisy, slow in the bends, and just a bit ugly. Not to mention we can’t stand when the speedometer is in the middle of the car.
The Nissan Versa is a different story. Where as the Toyota is a normal, dull, cheap hatchback, the Versa is a work of magic. Nissan must have used some sort of engineering voodoo in order to make it massively large on the inside, while small on the outside. When parked next to the Fit, it seems no bigger, but in an astonishing turn of events, it is on the inside. Even four well-fed Americans coming home from eating four quarter pounders from the local burger joint could sit comfortably inside the Versa. With a six-footer in the driver’s seat, there is still 1.7-inches of headroom and around 5-inches of kneeroom. It’s just insane.
Had our test been based solely on everyday commuter driving, the Nissan would be taking the top spot on the podium. The Versa was the quietest and it had the second best ride quality, according to our tests.
Sadly, we like to drive like we have a bee in our trousers on occasion and the Versa let us down a bit in this area. The handling was brilliant on perfectly smooth roads, but add a few bumps in and the car gets twitchy. The second area in which the Nissan failed was in the styling department. Where as the Fiesta sacrificed practicality for style, Nissan did the opposite. This is not a pretty car inside or out. If Nissan wants their Versa to be taken seriously, they need to redesign this thing.
Ford’s creation on the other hand, looks like a work of art. The Fiesta is just gorgeous, not to mention those looks should last because the car is built like a diamond. It’s not very often that people in BMWs look over at a Ford, but they sure did when the Fiesta drove past.
On the other hand, as we stated earlier, the Fiesta’s heavenly looks take away from the car’s practicality. That sloped roof can really diminish rear visibility and cargo space. Drive a long journey with an adult in the backseat and they won’t be able to walk for days. Needless to say, there isn’t a whole lot of room in there.
When you open the front door and sit in the driver’s seat, you are taken by surprise. The center stack looks as if it was thrown on the dash and wherever the buttons landed was where they would go. That being said, the quality is just brilliant. The plastics are soft to the touch and everything feels solid. After time, you get used to the button layout as well.
The Fiesta isn’t just all show and no go. It was the second fastest to 60 mph and had the best in the lateral grip and ride quality departments. Many of these things usually don’t go with a good small car, but Ford has made them work.
As we noted earlier, our test Fiesta had a normal five-speed manual gearbox. The transmission is actually pretty good and the clutch is light and easy to use in traffic. The car can also be equipped with a fancy six-speed double-clutch Powershift transmission that amazingly delivers better mileage. We haven’t had a chance to use this transmission, but we hear it’s pretty darn amazing.
To come off the happy train for a minute, the Fiesta does suffer from a few issues. Both transmissions have problems. The manual can be a bit unrefined at times and the throws are rather long. The double-clutch system can upshift and downshift at random times. Either way you go, the grass won’t be entirely green.
It’s hard to believe that the old Fit could still be ranked number one. It was the second nosiest, behind the Yaris, and the ride can be a bit rough at times. It was a tad slow, as it only beat the Toyota, and it stopped with the longest distance. Not to mention it costs $19,820.
So, how in the heck did this thing come in first place? On the road is where things get better, as the Honda Fit is as fun as a go-kart around the bends. Small cars don’t have to be boring and the Fit is proof. The Honda had far better outward vision and it was easy to pack the trunk with many various things. The Sport version gives the driver paddles to play with that can make you feel like Lewis Hamilton around a tight twisty road.
The looks of the Fit are modern and sleek, but nothing over the top. It still has the sleek appearance like the Fiesta, but it doesn’t lose any space on the inside. Overall, this car is top notch.
We would still much rather have the Mini than any of these four, but Honda did one darn good job at replicating the venerable Cooper. The interior is nicely equipped and it feels like a quality product.