2010 Chicago Auto Show: 2011 Ford Fiesta


Sporty Euro subcompact fans all over North America, rejoice. Ford the all-seeing, all-benevolent has heard your pleas, and it has deemed you worthy. The Fiesta is coming, and it’s not being dumbed down.

More and a gallery after the jump.

If you’ve felt like Ford has been snubbing North America with regard to the offerings we’ve gotten here, you’ll soon get a chance to make up for those years of perceived neglect. The 2011 Fiesta packs a 119-horse 1.6L four-cylinder engine that mates to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed CVT. The base Fiesta S sedan starts at a mere $12,999 CAD with 15″ steel wheels and the 5-speed manual trans. The SE hatch starts at $16,799 and comes with remote keyless entry, a 6-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio, a rear windshield wiper, and a seamless body-colour upper grille. If you want stock 16″ rims that are actually made of aluminum, you’ll want the SEL sedan or SES hatch. The sedan will set you back a cool $18,199, while the hatch will see your bank into you for an additional $700. These two top-of-the-line models come with heated mirrors, heated front seats, chrome bits, and SYNC.

I had the opportunity to get a nice demonstration of SYNC in a Fiesta from a Ford rep while I was at the show, and it seemed really promising. If you’re a fan of Pandora, what SYNC basically does is allow you to listen to your stations that you’ve set up on your computer—in your car. Pandora’s got a number of apps available for various mobile devices, so it only seemed the next logical step to make it available in your car as well. (As a fan of Last.FM, I would dearly love for them to develop something like this. If you’re a Last.FM developer, I hope you find this and take note.)

“Big deal,” you might say. “I already have an AUX jack for that. I can plug my mobile device in anytime I like and hear whatever music I want through my car speakers. I’ve also got full iPod integration. What’s this going to do for me?” Two words: voice control. Two more: of Pandora. You can change stations, issue a thumbs up or thumbs down, pause—pretty much anything you’d normally do with your fingers, all without looking up from the road you’re busy vrooming down. (If you’d prefer to be tactile and yet safe, you can also access controls right on the steering wheel, but that’s not nearly as fun—and you’ve probably been doing that for ages anyway on other vehicles.)

Additionally, SYNC allows you to follow your timeline on Twitter. A nice little computer voice will read your tweets aloud to you, sometimes with hilarious results if it doesn’t know how to pronounce words. Sometimes it spells things out, too—that’s currently how it handles any “@” designations (such as @autobusiness, who you should totally be following by now ;) ). You can’t yet tweet vocally via SYNC, however—it’s only one-way communication at the moment.

Ford and Microsoft (who developed SYNC) are working on partnerships with other companies to integrate their technologies more seamlessly into their cars, and from there into your life. Who says you can’t take it with you? Obviously not SYNC. I only hope no blue screen of death equivalents plague this system, because it’s got serious potential.

[Photos: Joe Lucente]