Ford Fiesta is bringing the small car party to the U.S.
by NICK KURCZEWSKI
A “Fiesta Movement” might sound more like a circuit party than a way to sell cars, but Ford Motor Company hopes some off-beat marketing gets the word out about the 2011 Fiesta subcompact. We’ve been down this road before, and with a variety of youth-targeted vehicles. Not too long ago, the Scion brand attempted to cast aside the reliable but stodgy image of parent company Toyota by utilizing urban-centric ads and sponsorship deals.
Ford has taken a slightly different approach – and avoided alienating buyers with polarizing styling, like that found on the Scion xB. For starters, Ford didn’t just focus on urban dwellers and the occasional graffiti artist to do the (marketing) dirty work. The company picked 100 people from around the U.S. for a six-month trial run of a European-spec Fiesta hatchback. While the Fiesta is brand new to North American shores, the car has been on sale in Europe since 2008. Yours truly drove several variations while living in the land of wine, cheese and surly customer service – a.k.a. Paris, France. But more on this later…
Insurance and gas bills were covered by Ford, but it was up to these “young trendsetters” to detail their Fiesta adventures through various media sites. A free car for six-months for some “tweets” and cell phone snapshots sounds like a pretty good deal to us! Apparently, the initial results of the Fiesta Movement sounded pretty good to Ford too. According to its internal tabulations, during its six month run last year the Fiesta Movement received 5.7 million YouTube views, more than 710,000 Flickr views and (at last count) over 3 million Twitter impressions. The Fiesta “agents” themselves racked up an impressive 1.4 million miles as y zigzagged across the country spreading the word about this economical small Ford.
So what’s the point?
The easy answer: to drum up sales! Ford reports that over 80,000 people have expressed interest in the Fiesta thanks to this program. Of course, considering a car and actually putting a deposit down are two vastly different things. To get car buyers behind the wheel, Ford is now shifting the Fiesta Movement into second gear. Twenty teams will be stationed around the country and more agents hired before the Fiesta goes on sale this spring.
Prices for the Fiesta start at $13,320 for the base sedan, and $15,120 for the hatchback. This pits the car against stiff competition from the likes of Honda, Toyota and Hyundai. Power comes from a 1.6-liter twin-independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT) four-cylinder gas engine. Highway fuel economy, according to Ford, is approximately 40 m.p.g. when the motor is paired with the optional six-speed automatic transmission. Electric power-assisted steering, electronic stability control and optional hill start assist are features you wouldn’t expect in a subcompact. The Fiesta also has no fewer than seven airbags as standard equipment.
So we think Ford’s efforts will pay off? Yes, but the reason will likely be more to do with the solid value and fun-to-drive characteristics of the 2011 Fiesta. Having recently spent nearly five years in Europe, I had the chance to drive several variations of the Fiesta – along with its mechanical twin, the Mazda2. Nimble, comfortable, and with enough grunt for city driving or long distance highway cruising, the Fiesta was a personal favorite amongst Ford’s accomplished European lineup.
Diesel versions offered phenomenal fuel mileage – I frequently saw close to 60 m.p.g. on the highway. But while the gasoline-powered version sacrificed a bit of economy, the zingier and more energetic feel of the gas motor felt better-suited to the car. If the Fiesta Movement can convince U.S. car buyers to go for a test drive and discover how good this car really is, Ford will have plenty of reason to celebrate.
Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Company