2009 Ford Fiesta - Small Cars Get More Appealing

Every once in a while something interesting happens in the Thai motoring world, but mostly the industry is boring. For the vast majority of main-streme car buyers in Thailand, the new car decision will come down to a choice of which letter they would rather have on the front of their car: a "T" or an "H".

Ford Fiesta

A few brave souls do try their luck with "alternative" brands, in general resulting in poor residual value, higher running costs, and when the product isn't quite perfect, there is that feeling of buyer remorse. Buying a Toyota and Honda is a very solid purchase. Cars from either brand will be reasonably cheap to service, reliability will be solid, and resale values are very high.

It's not really surprising to know that Toyota and Honda dominate the sales charts month after month. Without beating around the bush any further, I'm going to suggest that Toyota and Honda have grown complacent in the Thai market. Their products have become boring, and there is simply no innovation worth speaking of.

Now this is supposed to be about the Ford Fiesta, and we will get there eventually, but let's have a brief look at the current market, and why I think the Fiesta will shake things up a little.

The Toyota Bland... I mean Brand

I was never a fan of Toyota. I think it is fair to make this clear from the outset, so that my bias will be fully transparent. Toyota have always represented the boring side of the car industry. Boring cars, with boring designs that are boring to drive and boring to look at. Toyota seemed to just copy ideas from competition and even if they were years behind in terms of technology, could easily do well thanks to a brand image of quality.

Toyota have become complacent in the Thai market. The current model line-up is largely new, with a recent Camry, Altis, Yaris, and Vios. Despite the new model range, equipment and specification is not impressive, considering that Toyota should really be leading the way.

For example, the base model Altis doesn't have airbags, and even the top model, selling for close to THB 1 million only has 2 airbags. The Altis is also fitted with the 1.6 and 1.8 litre engines from the outgoing model, with only minor changes to allow use of E20 petrol, and a slight reduction in power output to lower emissions. Torsion beam suspension, and 4-speed automatic gearboxes aren't exactly cutting edge features either.

But the Altis is a good car, and of course it will sell like crazy, but my question is this: So what?

Then there is the Yaris and Vios. Again, the 1.5 litre engine is the same one that has been knocking around for the past 6 years in the previous Soluna Vios. Is Toyota realy so far ahead in engine technology that it simply doesn't need to update the engines, or is it just that advancements in engines don't make it to Thailand, because there is no need?

Honda - More of the same

Honda are a little further on in the game than Toyota. The Civic does have a 5-speed automatic, and the 1.8 litre engine was new for the 2005 model, although it is only a SOHC unit, but it does deliver 140 hp which is plenty. The 2.0 litre in Thailand is the old unit from the previous CR-V/Accord.

Then there is the Jazz. Due for replacement towards the end of this month, the Jazz is the market leader in its class. So Honda aren't doing all that much with it for the 2009 model update. The engine will go from 110 hp to 120 hp, and the gearbox will go from CVT to a conventional auto, albeit a 5-speed unit. But Honda doesn't need to do much because there isn't any competition. The Yaris is a competitor in theory, but lacks the space or flexibility to compete head-on with the Jazz.

They can do more!

Honda and Toyota have more interesting products elsewhere. They have diesel engines too, but they seem content to allow others to test the water first, and then join the bandwagon and cash in only when they know it's safe.

Ford were first to market in Thailand with an E20 capable engine, but it didn't do them much good, since the fuel was not available and the government promise of lower duties only kicked in at the beginning of the year. Naturally Toyota, Honda and the the others joined the E20 band right on time to benefit from the tax cut.

Now, Ford, Chevrolet, and Hyundai are testing the water with mainstream (non-truck) diesel models, but Toyota and Honda, despite having diesel power units in other markets, are sitting back and watching. This is a little frustrating but there is a possibility that Toyota and Honda will both end up paying for their complacency.

Enter Ford Fiesta

Next year (2009 or 2552), Ford will start production at their brand new facility in Thailand. The facility is a Mazda/Ford venture, and will be pushing out B segment cars. This means Mazda 2, and Ford Fiesta, and it means that Honda will have some fresh competition for the Jazz next year. And while the Honda Jazz is a minor step forward for Honda, the new Fiesta represents a quantum leap for Ford. Will it be enough to leap-frog the Jazz, and become a hit for Ford in SE Asia?

These images say "yes"!!

2009 Ford Fiesta Front

2009 Ford Fiesta Rear

2009 Ford Fiesta Interior

Press Release on the Ford Fiesta


Designed and developed in Europe for sale in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and the Americas between 2008 and 2010, the new Fiesta is the first major product of Ford’s new global product development process. Its stylish and dynamic flair combines with all the traditional Ford small car strengths to create a confident, contemporary introduction to the next chapter of the Fiesta success story.

The new Fiesta opens another chapter in the story of the popular Ford small car that has sold more than 12 million units since its introduction in 1976. Charismatic and individual, the new model makes major strides in craftsmanship, quality of materials and product choice while continuing to represent Fiesta’s traditional strengths of practicality, value for money, agility and safety. It also brings a host of big-car features to the small-car segment for the first time.

New Fiesta clearly embodies the hallmarks of 'kinetic design', which has so convincingly infused emotion into the core of the Ford range in Europe. The Geneva debut confirms that new Fiesta will bring the most appealing elements of Verve, a trio of concept cars shown recently around the world, to production reality.

It also ends speculation surrounding the name of Ford’s new-generation small car for global markets.

“This new car embodies the very essence of Fiesta – fun, vitality and emotion,” said John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe. “We know there isn't a better name for the new model, and we have over thirty years of investment in the Fiesta brand to consider.

"We’re confident that the combination of dynamic new 'kinetic design' exterior, great interior design and craftsmanship, and a host of new technologies and features will provide compelling reasons for a new generation of customers around the world to take a fresh look at the Ford Fiesta. I know they will be both surprised and delighted with what they see and feel," Fleming added.

Small Car with Global Plans

The new Ford Fiesta is closely related to the exciting Verve Concept vehicle that was revealed to great acclaim at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Frankfurt car was one of three Verve Concepts, with the others, both four-door sedans tailored for regional market tastes, shown recently at Guangzhou in China and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Together, these concepts paved the way for the company's new global small car programme for the 2008 to 2010 period, with the European Fiesta first to debut in production guise.

Ford designers and product development engineers in Europe have led the vehicle's global development process.

“For Ford, this is truly a world premiere,” said Joe Bakaj, Vice President of Product Development, Ford of Europe. “The new Fiesta is the first car born from our new global product development process. More than ever, we’re leveraging our global product development expertise, and this car sets the scene for future great products for customers around the world that are already being developed behind it in the Ford Global Product Development System pipeline.”

European production of the new Fiesta commences in the autumn of 2008 at the company's Cologne plant in Germany. Later, as production ramps up, the Valencia Assembly Plant will bring additional Fiesta capacity on line in 2009.

“Fiesta has its heart in Europe but its eyes on the world,” said Marin Burela, Ford's Global Executive Director for small-car development. “We’re building on Ford’s hertitage of excellence in small car development to give the new Fiesta truly global reach and identity. By 2010, this new small-car family will be manufactured in Europe, Asia and the Americas and be marketed as Fiesta in all of the world’s key automotive markets.”

The new vehicle range will introduce several Ford firsts for a small car, including – from later in 2008 – another model in the new Ford ECOnetic range promising CO 2 emissions of fewer than 100 grams per kilometre.

Fit and Trim

  • New model retains predecessor's compact size, but is lighter and stronger
  • Intelligent Protection System includes new driver's knee airbag
  • Detailed enhancements to acclaimed driving character include Electric Power Assisted Steering (E-PAS) and reduced road, wind and powertrain noise

Unlike key competitors in the European small-car segment which have grown in size and weight, the new Fiesta stands on virtually the same footprint as before. The new-generation Fiesta is actually lighter than its predecessor.

“Staying small and resisting weight gains were key objectives of the new Fiesta development process,” said Joerg Beyer, Fiesta Chief Carline Engineer. “We’ve been absolutely committed to keeping Fiesta a compact car and having a razor-sharp focus on cutting weight. That really pays off when it comes to fuel economy and CO 2 emissions.”

Component by component, the Ford development team scrutinised for weight but refused to compromise on key areas that are important to customers. One of the biggest is safety, where new Fiesta makes a bold step forward with an extremely robust safety structure and the Intelligent Protection System of safety technologies that brings a driver's knee airbag to Fiesta for the first time.

The new Fiesta makes extensive use of ultra high-strength steels in its body structure. A remarkable amount of these specialist steels, including boron steel and dual-phase steel, is the secret to Fiesta’s quantum leap in structural stiffness for its light weight. These steels are used particularly in safety critical areas, such as the A-pillar and B-pillar, part of the ultra-rigid 'door ring' structure of the Fiesta bodyside.

Extending Fiesta’s traditional excellence in driving dynamics was also a priority. The new Fiesta will have a dynamic character to match its poised, 'kinetic design' style hinting at energy in motion. Ford’s acclaimed dynamics engineers also worked hard to enhance Fiesta’s ride comfort and isolate road, wind and powertrain noise from the cabin, and to give the new model an impressively quiet driving quality for a small car.

New Fiesta retains the MacPherson strut front suspension and twist-beam rear suspension layout that has been one of its traditional strengths, but the new suspension and steering system has undergone an array of enhancements.

Electric-Power Assist Steering (E-PAS) is introduced in the Fiesta for the first time. E-PAS provides the right balance of low-speed assistance and excellent feel and responsiveness.

E-PAS has another key benefit. It is another key facet of new Fiesta’s initiatives to reduce fuel consumption.

The electric power steering pump only operates when steering-effort assistance is required, unlike traditional hydraulic PAS pumps that operate constantly when the engine is running. This brings a fuel consumption reduction.

Efficient Powertrain Choices

  • Total of five powertrain choices at launch from efficient 68 PS Duratorq TDCi diesel to new Duratec 1.6-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine which delivers 115 PS
  • Fiesta ECOnetic ultra-low CO 2 model will deliver less than 100g/km emissions

With a broad array of powertrain choices, the new Fiesta is a responsive, yet efficient, performer.

New to the Fiesta range for European markets is the popular Ford Duratec 1.6-litre Ti-VCT engine. The 115 PS engine with variable intake cam timing, provides a well-balanced blend of performance and economy. It brings a 15 PS performance improvement over the outgoing Fiesta without a fuel consumption penalty.

The Fiesta range also retains:

  • 1.25-litre (60 and 80 PS) and 1.4-litre (91 PS) Duratec petrol engines
  • Both Duratorq TDCi common-rail diesel engines, the 1.4-litre (68 PS) and the 1.6-litre (90 PS - available with Diesel Particulate Filter) which have been enhanced with revised injection technology and electronic control sophistication.
  • Fiesta will be offered with Ford Durashift 5-speed manual transmission or the Durashift 4-speed automatic transmission (available with 1.4-litre (91 PS) Duratec engine).

Concept becomes Reality

  • Production Fiesta is clearly related to Verve Concept
  • Futuristic interior from Concept makes production with integrated HMI centre stack
  • New technology highlights include keyless vehicle technology, 'Ford Power' engine start button, Ford Easyfuel capless refuelling, USB connectivity and ambient interior lighting

The new Ford Fiesta brings the radical Verve Concept exterior and interior styling to production reality and incorporates features and technologies normally found in larger, more expensive vehicles. It rejects the notion that an affordable small car has to be basic or boring.

The highlight of the Verve Concept interior – the futuristic, mobile phone-inspired, human-machine interface technology of the instrument panel centre stack – will be a core feature of the new Ford Fiesta when it hits the road.

Gone is the flat, upright centre stack of the instrument panel, a feature typical of many small cars driven by the need to package a large radio head unit behind the fascia panel. New technology allows Fiesta to separate the key elements of audio system – the control buttons, display and underlying electronics – in a distributed architecture that gives designers more freedom to create aesthetically pleasing, functional shapes.

Many customers of the new-generation Ford Fiesta were raised with mobile phones and they will be instantly comfortable with the design of the car's Ford Convers+ system, which follows the centre stack contours to frame a large-screen display and control panel with key buttons for audio, in-car phone and vehicle settings.

Convenient toggle switches incorporated into the steering wheel allow the driver to control the system’s key functions easily and intuitively.

The Ford Convers+ feature – already available on the Ford Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models – represents a major step forward for the small car buyer. It is just one of several new features and technologies in the new Fiesta, including keyless vehicle technology symbolised by the distinctive 'Ford Power' button on the instrument panel.

The advanced technology of Convers+ will not be offered solely on high-spec vehicles. Ford expects more than 85 per cent of Fiesta orders to feature one of two available multi-function displays.

Another Verve Concept feature – the lozenge shaped array of large twist dials for the heating and ventilation systems at the midpoint of the centre stack – is retained in the production Fiesta design. This feature was inspired by the design of contemporary power showers.

Connectivity is another new Fiesta strength. The new centre console features a convenient tray for MP3 players complete with built-in jack sockets for an auxiliary (AUX) audio cable and a USB, along with the traditional 12 Volt outlet. This allows the car's audio system to control and charge the MP3 player.

Bluetooth ® connectivity with Voice Control is also offered in the new Fiesta, along with more big-car technologies, including:

  • Ford Easyfuel, the convenient capless refuelling system recently introduced with the Ford Mondeo designed to prevent accidental misfuelling
  • Reach and rake steering wheel adjustment
  • New ambient lighting features that provide a softly elegant red glow to discreetly highlight the interior of the vehicle
  • 'One shot' up and down driver window with anti-trap technology

Bold, Dynamic, Sculpted

The bold colours, dynamic shapes and sculpted surfaces of the new Ford Fiesta indicate how deeply the spirit of the Verve Concept has been carried into production as the latest model of Ford’s 'kinetic design' family.

Exciting and vibrant new production colours include 'Squeeze' and 'Hot Magenta', which is a production version of the unique colour developed for the three-door Verve Concept car.

"We were so pleased with the positive reaction to the body colour of the first Verve Concept, that we decided to adopt this colour for inclusion in the range soon after launch," said Burela.

The dynamic, coupé-like profile and sporty stance of the new Fiesta demonstrates that none of the emotional appeal of the concept cars has been lost.

"All the vital elements of 'kinetic design' combine to create a visually rich, dynamic exterior shape that is very close indeed to the original concept car," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's Executive Director for Design. "Full surfaces, bold graphics and dynamic lines combine coherently and harmoniously to create a dynamic spirit of fun and energy in motion."

With a feeling of toned muscularity, the new Fiesta asserts an air of confidence, stylishness and individuality. Its aggressively contoured bonnet and front wings convey a broad-shouldered stance, and its face features a distinctive signature element – a bold lower trapezoidal grille that draws attention and reinforces the key Ford attribute of sporty driving dynamics.

Chrome and brightwork are used selectively, like jewellery accents, to convey elegance and sophistication.

Large and full of character directly from the Verve concepts, Fiesta’s bold headlamps become part of the shoulder shape and extend aggressively rearward almost as far as the stylishly raked A-pillars. The headlamp units incorporate all primary front lighting and signal functions – complemented on the lower bumper flanks by round, chrome-ringed fog lamps.

New Fiesta’s profile emphasises its new, cab-forward shape and an attitude of poised, sporty style. The sweeping roofline extends appealingly from the forward-stretching A-pillar rearward, framing the bold graphic of the Fiesta side window profile to create the sporty feeling of a coupé for both three-door and yet-to-be-revealed five-door bodystyles.

“The Design team put as much importance on the shape of the five-door as the three-door,” said Stefan Lamm, Chief Designer Exterior, Ford of Europe. “Both cars are based on the same body, which makes them sporty and dynamic, almost coupé-like.”

The Fiesta side windows combine to create a unified profile window graphic – a key 'kinetic design' element that communicates dynamism. An elegant accent of chrome frames the lower edge of the side glass and accentuates the signature Ford “kick-up” at its rear.

The new Fiesta also features the signature bold wheel arches that communicate the vehicle’s stance and dynamic capabilities, giving visual emphasis to new 17-inch alloy wheels.

Dynamic, 'kinetic design' lines arc from side to side, uniting the upper corners of the tail lamps with the distinctive spoiler, which incorporates a slim LED stop lamp array. The sculpture of the body shapes is accented by elements like the new tail lamp – another Verve element that feels like it is an integral part of the body – and the V-shaped tailgate’s chamfered rear glass.

“I’ve been saying just wait for the new Fiesta to see how kinetic design can be translated into a small car,” said Martin Smith, Executive Director of Design for Ford of Europe. “But now the wait is over. New Fiesta evokes an instant emotional response that says ‘I want one’ which extends the traditionally practical values of the Fiesta brand to appeal to a new, style-conscious generation of small car buyers.”

Full technical details of the new Fiesta range will be released closer to the launch of the production model in autumn 2008.