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2011 Ford Fiesta preview drive (photos)

Ford's new Fiesta comes in as the smallest car in its current line-up, yet brings a feeling of quality that should satisfy many customers. With European-design roots, the Fiesta shows that an economy car doesn't have to be dull.

Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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Ford is counting on its new Fiesta to give it a major chunk of the U.S. small-car market.
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The Fiesta was designed in Europe, with the sensibility that small cars can be desirable.
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The ride quality in the Fiesta is really quite good, with a softness you don't expect from an economy car, yet responsive handling.
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The Fiesta won't win any drag races: its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine struggles along with 120 horsepower.
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There isn't much cargo room in the Fiesta, although the back seats tilt down to offer a little more space.
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We didn't expect burgundy leather seats in the Fiesta, but our tester was a high trim version.
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The Fiesta uses electric power steering, which doesn't fade at low engine speeds.
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As a European quirk, the voice command button is on a stalk, not the steering wheel. There are also no volume controls on the steering wheel.
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This car came equipped with a dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, which combines efficiency and convenience. But we would have liked a manual mode.
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The button cluster on the dashboard was inspired by cell phone design.
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The center display is much bigger than a typical radio display, and gives access to a connected MP3 player's music library.
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Sync gives voice command over a connected MP3 player's library, letting you request music by artist and album name.

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