Being forced to do more with less is a common refrain as prosperity and oil reserves continue to dwindle. Tired of hearing it? So is Ford. The 2011 Ford Fiesta does more with more. For several years, Honda's Fit has gone virtually unchallenged in its segment. That all changes with the arrival of the Fiesta, which is every bit as well equipped and precisely screwed together as the Fit while costing less and offering features that aren't found on the Fit.
Even when both cars are gussied up to their top respective trim levels, the Fiesta SES brings it home for $17,795, versus a comparable Fit Sport with Navigation's $19,010. Both cars offer five-passenger accommodations, though you're not going to find the Fiesta's available leather seats in any version of the Fit. Rear-seat passengers in the Fit will also have to go without outlets for the ventilation system and a power outlet. Comfortable passengers and places to plug in devices and chargers are apparently not a priority in the Honda.
Both the Fiesta and the Fit carry four-cylinder engines that produce nearly identical power; 119 hp at 6,000 rpm from the Fiesta's 1.6-liter Ti-VCT engine versus 117 hp at a much higher 6,600 rpm for the Fit's 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine. The Fiesta's more relaxed peak power delivery lends a less frenetic, more confident character, as well.
Accolades have been heaped upon the Honda's five-speed manual transmission, though little has been uttered about the available five-speed automatic. The Fiesta, on the other hand, has two noteworthy transmissions. Fiestaís standard five-speed manual is a match for the Fit's stickshift, but the Fiesta also carries the first implementation of Ford's Powershift six-speed automatic. The Powershift is a high-performance, dual-clutch transmission that's more efficient than the conventional automatic found in the Fit, and that efficiency translates into the Fiesta's 32 mpg combined fuel economy versus the Fit's 29 mpg combined.
Another area that has earned praise for the Honda Fit has been its interior. While the Fit's multiple configurations are clever, the Fiesta offers an inch more front legroom and a lower overall ride height. A reduced height means Fiesta slices through the air less obtrusively than the Fit's ungainly greenhouse, not to mention the sharp looks the Fiesta wears. Flaunting Ford's kinetic design language, the Fiesta exudes a stylish confidence not found in the big-eyed Fit. It's not a coincidence that the Fiesta's design language was born on a show car called the Verve; verve is something the Fiesta has in spades.
The Fiesta's interior fairly blows away all comers including the Fit. Not only are leather seats an uncommon luxury nod for this class, Fiesta offers Ford's SYNC system for unheard of device integration. The Fit offers a navigation system, but it does a number on the carís affordability and doesn't offer the easy pairing of Bluetooth devices, voice interaction, Vehicle Health Report or Traffic, Directions and Info. SYNC puts real-time traffic updates and navigation capability right into the audio system. Also inside the Fiesta's stylishly designed interior are a power moonroof, available push-button start and ambient lighting that sets a high-class mood.
After decades of leading an austere, monastic life, there's new energy in the small-car segment, and it's driven by a fully-equipped 2011 Ford Fiesta that packs all the good stuff into a compact footprint.