Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ford Fiesta Movement

I've been following the Ford Fiesta Movement for a few months. It all started because my darling husband and I have become huge Top Gear fans. For us, it's appointment TV recorded only when we can't get out of some other commitment, like vacation. He also signed me up for a year of Top Gear magazine for our anniversary in May and I gobble the issues up as soon as they come in. I especially love the Consumer Reports-style car reviews at the back of every issue.

Top Gear has had a couple of issues where they talked about the fun, sporty, and just joyful little micro-compact from Ford - the Fiesta. *Double-Take* The FIESTA?! You all remember the Fiesta, don't you?! I sure do! In case you don't's a picture. Ring a bell now? Thin alumninum shell that made a tin-can-like sound when you shut the door, skinny little tires that would allow for the slightest breeze or wind buffetting around another passing Fiesta to blow you off the road, handled like a mini-bus, and was as comfortable on a long drive as a buckboard ...remember now? It's saving grace was that it was relatively reliable transportation that was inexpensive to purchase and maintain and was great on gas. Ford produced this model from 1981-1995.

So, to see the magazine reviews and Top Gear presenters going ga-ga over the new release of the Fiesta in Great Britain just made me stop in my tracks and gawpe. And, if the pictures are anything like what they actually get to drive, I can understand the initial appeal. Frankly, the car is dead sexy. Nothing at all like anything Ford has produced in the past. See? Sporty, swoopy, sort of muscular, bit of a sneer, looks ready to chew up some highway. And then the first thought I had was...where's mine?! Why can't Ford make one of those for us in the good ol' USA? Why does Europe get all the cute, fun, mini-compacts? Why do we get stuck with the chunk-a-blunk, blocky American cars with boxey backsides and an overly-blingified grill? No wonder the Big Three have been struggling here. Not everyone wants a vehicle that looks as utilitarian as a Kremlin tour bus.

Shortly after the Top Gear episode about THEIR Fiesta aired, I jumped online and started doing research. Turns out, Ford was using the Brits as a test case to see if maybe there would be a market for a sleek, fun, economical micro-mini in the US. The plan is to release the Fiesta in the US in 2010. In fact, Ford has decided to take a whole new and fresh tack on the marketing of the Fiesta. Instead of doing the traditional ads on TV, they've started marketing very early by way of social networking sites, blogs, YouTube videos and the like. In fact, they set up a contest where over 4,000 people applied to become "Agents" for the Fiesta Movement. Only 100 people would be chosen to become Agents. For six months, Agents received the use of a new 2010 Fiesta and in return, they were asked to share their experiences online. Each Agent is to complete 60 "missions" that Ford gives them. Once I found out about this, I went digging on the Fiesta Movement web site and discovered that a team of two guys near my home town have a Fiesta. So, I joined their Facebook page. Here's a link to their Facebook page. They did a lot of posting at first, all around May and June, but not so much lately. Guess they have real lives too and don't really spend all day showing off their new car.

Fast forward to late July when the Hubs and I go to San Diego for Comic Con. We are walking back from the Con one evening and there they are! The Ford Fiestas! Whoever the Agents are in San Diego know that Comic Con is a huge opportunity to get a whole bunch of people from all over the world to look at and possibly test drive the cars. Did I say test drive?! Why, yes I did! Why is that a big deal? Because the ONLY way you can test drive a Fiesta right now is to hook up with one of these Agents! That's Right! The dealers do not have any of these cars. AND, remember there are only 100 Agents in the country! In San Diego, they set up two Fiestas on the sidewalk for folks to just walk around and touch. They had computer monitors set up outside the cars so you could look at fun videos about the cars. They also had three Fiestas parked on the side for you to test drive. Unfortunately, they would close up shop before we would get back from the Con each day and we would be out the door earlier than the guys would be there with the cars, so I didn't get to test drive one.

So far, every review I've read of the Fiesta has been positive if not absolutely glowing with praise. Even Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear says it handles with a combination of Volkswagony solidity and Lotus-y responsiveness! How can you beat that?! (find links to some reviews below). And, based on the look I got at the cars fit and finish, basic design, interiors, and basic quality - if the drive lives up to what I've seen, the Fiesta may be changing my mind about American cars not being worthy of their Asian competition. It'll take a test drive to convince me though.

Top Gear's Fiesta Test Drive Video
- May 9, 2009 - This is a perfect example of why we love Top Gear! A test drive that includes being chased through a mall by a bad guy in a Corvette and a beach assault landing with the British Marines! Delicious!

Car and Driver
- November 2008

US News & World Report
- Unknown date