A new front with angular headlights aligned the Fiesta design with its New Edge stablemates Ka, Puma and Focus. The safety provision was extended further with driver, passenger and now side airbags as well as electronic four-channel ABS. Power steering, aluminium alloy wheels, air conditioning and remote-controlled central locking were all featured. Lead model in the new series was the 1.6-litre Fiesta Sport with 103 PS and 15-inch aluminium wheels with 195/50 tyres. A stiffer body and reduced ground clearance combined with powerful brakes and optimised power steering to deliver a great handling and driving performance.
The new Fiesta was highly regarded by automotive journalists for its driving dynamics and over all driving quality as it carried the Ford small-car flag in an increasingly competitive European automotive landscape. Undaunted, it started its current path, achieving year-on-year sales growth. Like all Fiestas, it was no flash in the pan. Like a popular television series, the new Fiesta even inspired a spin-off model in 2002 – the new Ford Fusion, a new type of vehicle with a generous, family-sized space with a small-car footprint and a higher driving position. Fiesta’s new relative made its public debut at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show.
In 2004, Ford gave the new Fiesta even more emotion, creating two new performance models. The new flagship was the 2.0-litre 150 PS Fiesta ST and it was the first road car created by Ford’s new TeamRS, an organisation within Ford specialising on performance cars and motorsport competition. Ever since the Fiesta XR2 of 1981, affordable performance and sheer driving pleasure had been major characteristics of Ford’s small car range. Fiesta ST’s mission was to bring that excitement to a new generation of drivers. Fiesta ST was aimed right at the heart of the popular ‘junior hot hatch’ class. Ford’s objective was to create the best all-rounder in the class with outstanding driving credentials.
The new Fiesta ST saw the return of the fast Fiesta. Its new stablemate, the Fiesta S, would provide two added performance versions – including the first Fiesta performance diesel. Designed to be a fun to drive ‘warm hatch’ with sporty looks, enjoyable handling and peppy performance, Fiesta S was more economical to buy, to run and to insure. Based on the three-door Fiesta body, the S model featured the same roof spoiler and deep front and rear bumper mouldings as Fiesta ST, as well as versions of its grippy sports seats.
[b]Fiesta manufacturing today[/b]
Before the production start of the new-generation Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion in November 2001, Ford of Europe and its suppliers invested 525 million Euros into the modernization of Ford’s Cologne assembly plant and a neighbouring supplier park. This industrial complex is highly regarded in the industry for its high levels of efficiency and capacity utilisation. Today, the Ford Cologne Assembly Plan works around the clock in three shifts to product 1,800 units of Ford Fiesta, Fiesta ST, Ford Fiesta Van and the Ford Fusion in a fully flexible manufacturing environment. In 2005, Ford’s Cologne works produced 403,349 units, among them 98,300 Fusion models. Fiesta and Ford Fusion are exported from Cologne into more than 50 countries, including example to Angola, Australia, Brunei, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. The farthest flung Fiesta export market is the Pacific island Tahiti.
Ford’s original vision for the Ford Fiesta was to create a small car for the world, just like the Model T had been at the beginning of the 20th Century. In many ways, Fiesta has achieved that goal, touching faraway markets but remaining firmly footed as a leader in the important European small-car segment.
Today, as the momentum builds for the latest and enhanced Fiesta – sales up 10 percent on 2005 so far and aiming for its best sales year in seven years – this iconic model is looking ahead to the old saying: “life begins at 40.”