2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery:
2011 Ford Fiesta

At Autos, we’ve given a fair amount of attention to the new Fiesta hatchback recently, but what about that other Fiesta: the sedan?

Not everyone wants the extra utility and cargo space of a hatchback. Some buyers just prefer the more traditional styling and security of a small car with a trunk.

The Fiesta sedan is arguably more stylish than the hatch. Though it’s almost identical from the nose to the rear doors, the sedan’s profile flows more gracefully from the steeply raked rear window into a short, tall trunk and a rear fascia with more conservatively shaped tail lights. The sedan also has additional third side windows behind the rear doors for improved visibility. Despite its tall, narrow proportions, the sedan has a more balanced appearance than the hatchback.

If you thought the Fiesta sedan looks bigger than the hatchback, you’d be right: it’s over a foot (342 mm/13.5 in.) longer. You might also think it would have more trunk space behind the rear seats, but in fact the Fiesta sedan’s trunk is smaller than the hatchback’s (362 litres vs 490 litres). With the hatchback’s split folding seatbacks folded down, there is even more cargo space, even though the seats aren’t level with the floor. The sedan’s rear seats fold down the same way, but the opening to the trunk is rather small and the sedan’s irregularly shaped cargo area is cannabilized by large trunk hinges when the lid is closed. Still, the Fiesta sedan does have more trunk space than the Chevy Aveo, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio sedans – but less than the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa sedans, all key competitors.

2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan. Click image to enlarge

Key mechanical and comfort features in the sedan are the same as in the hatchback, but one important feature is different: the base price. The Fiesta sedan is available in a base S version starting at $12,999 whereas the hatchback starts in SE trim for $16,799. Granted, the base Fiesta sedan S model is missing some popular standard features, like air conditioning, but its low price is attractive for budget buyers. I suspect Ford priced it this low to compete with the Nissan Versa 1.6 sedan which is being offered for $12,698 in 2010.

Available trim levels on the Fiesta sedan are S ($12,999), SE ($16,099), and SEL ($18,199) with an additional $1,350 destination charge on all models. A five-speed manual transmission is standard while Ford’s nifty new six-speed dual dry-clutch automatic transmission is a $1,250 option on all models.

Though it’s relatively inexpensive, the base Fiesta S sedan has some unexpected standard features such as power mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, knee airbag, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. It also includes standard AM/FM stereo with auxiliary input jack, variable intermittent wipers, front, side and curtain airbags, split-folding rear seatbacks, floor mats, and 15-inch all-season tires and steel wheels.

2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan. Click image to enlarge

The next level up, the Fiesta SE sedan, adds a chrome three-bar grille, air conditioning, power windows with automatic up/down, power door locks with keyless entry, illuminated entry, vanity mirrors, seatback storage pockets, chrome interior accents, CD/MP3 stereo, and system monitor.

The SEL sedan, this week’s test model, adds 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth seats with front seat heaters, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and SYNC hands-free telephone and communications system, premium sound system with six speakers, Sirius satellite radio with six-month free subscription, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and chrome side window mouldings. Options include leather upholstery ($1,200), a power sunroof ($1,200), and passive entry ($500).

Like the Fiesta hatchback, the sedan has a tall roof and big doors making entry and exit relatively easy. Interior legroom and headroom is good for front passengers, as is rear headroom, but rear legroom is just adequate for adults even though there is generous footroom under the front seats. Rear passengers must do without a folding centre armrest and storage pockets, but there is a cupholder at the rear of the centre console and a 12-volt outlet.

2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan
2011 Ford Fiesta SEL sedan. Click image to enlarge

The top-of-the-line SEL model has standard sport cloth upholstery which, in my car, was a very attractive black with blue stitching and a blue seat pattern. The front seats are comfortable with good cushion and backrest support and the driver’s seat includes a manual height adjuster but no lumbar adjustment; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard. The front seats also include seat heaters, just in time for winter. The doors have padded armrests but the Fiesta doesn’t include a centre armrest or storage bin.

The two large round gauges behind the well-padded leather-wrapped steering wheel are easy to read as is the small red-on-black digital display between the gauges which shows outside temperature, average fuel economy, average speed, and distance to empty.

The centre instrument panel design looks very sporty but the toggle knob for controlling the audio and SYNC functions that are displayed in the screen above it is too fiddly to be operated while driving. Plus, the volume dial is rather small and there is no volume control on the steering wheel. Of course, you can operate many functions with the voice-operated audio and telephone functions that are part of the SYNC system.

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