Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept

The doors still haven't quite opened up at the Paris Motor Show and already the leakage has begun in full force. Yesterday we got a sneak peek at the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept, but the lone photo was small and grainy. Thankfully, the wait for real images is now over mere minutes before the car is officially unveiled at an evening event held by the Volkswagen Group in Paris as we speak. A total of five shots of the carbon-intensive supercar have just hit the interwebs, and they didn't come from Lamborghini.

To put it mildly, we like what we see. As could be seen in the series of teasers officially let loose by the boys from Lamborghini, every single bit of the car has been fashioned from carbon fiber. Suitable, then, that the car has been named after the sixth element of the periodic table – Sesto Elemento literally means sixth element in Italian. Even the tailpipes have been fashioned from a sort of composite called Pyrosic that is able to withstand extremely high temperatures.

Those high exhaust temperatures will be exhaled by a V10 engine that's putting out a stonkin' 570 horsepower. With just 2,200 pounds of weight to move, the run to 60 will take less than 2.5 seconds.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Models Announced

2011 VW Touareg TDI

In the market for a mid-size SUV / Crossover vehicle? Can you hold out just a little while longer? If you can, then you may want to give VW’s second generation Touareg SUV a drive when it hits dealer showrooms later this fall. For diesel fans, this is very good news since the Touareg will be back with a TDI clean diesel variant. Unfortunately, the V10 turbodiesel and it’s stump pulling 553 ft lb of torque won’t be used in second generation, but there’s still enough grunt in the new oil burner to keep torque fans happy.

2011 VW Touareg TDI

The 2011 Touareg will be offered with three motor options, beginning with a 3.6 liter V6 (280 horsepower, 265 ft lb of torque) that gets 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg city. A new hybrid version, available next spring, gives you a supercharged 3.0 liter V6 coupled with an electric motor that yields a combined 380 horsepower and 428 ft lb of torque, while returning an estimated 25 mpg highway. Finally, the aforementioned 3.0 liter turbodiesel will get you 225 horsepower and an impressive 406 ft lb of torque, while netting you 28 mpg highway and 19 mpg city. All motor choices shift through a new eight speed automatic transmission, and all Touareg models come with VW’s 4MOTION all wheel drive system. Finally, all engine options are rated to tow up to 7,700 pounds when equipped with the factory installed tow package.

2011 VW Touareg TDI

Several Trim levels are planned, including Sport, Lux, Hybrid and Executive. All include an 8” touchscreen nav and infotainment system, Sirius Satellite Radio, HID headlights, rearview camera, power adjustable and heated front seats and dual zone climate controls. All Touareg models include six airbags, an improved head restraint system, ABS, traction control and electronic stability control. Expect pricing to start at around $41,000 for a 3.6 liter V6 Sport.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


One of our Zero customers Tim Barnett has sent us some photographs that he had taken when he took his Zero Race around the Nurburgring in Germany. If you would like your Zero to feature on our GBS Blog then please get in touch via email.
Also Russell Dyer and his father came to collect their Zero Plus kit today.
For more information about the Zero please call 01623 860 990 or visit our website

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 AmericanMuscle Car Show


The AmericanMuscle car show this year was amazing! There were thousands of people in attendance, over 500 Mustangs, and thousands raised for charity.

  • Total # of Mustangs: 524
  • Total # of People: Over 1700
  • Final Charity Amount Raised: $14,825
  • % of People Who Had a Great Time: 100%!

Not only were all of the donations and attendance records broken, had some of the hottest, loudest and baddest Mustangs in the country show up.

Read more about at 2010 AmericanMuscle Car Show

Friday, September 24, 2010


Today at Great British Sports Cars we had Skills4Trade College come and collect their Zero Plus kit, Glen bought with him 2 students Josh and Lewis to help collect there kit, before they left they each enjoyed a test drive in the new Zero demonstrator. David Tough also collected his Zero Zetec kit today.

Earlier this week we had Steve and Carol from Total Kit Car Magazine visit the factory to have a look around and take the new Zero demonstrator out for a test drive in which they were both very impressed with. To book a test drive in the Zero please call 01623 860 990 or visit our website where you can find more information about the Zero.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited

Even five years ago, Hyundai was widely considered to be a bargain-basement marque. After all, anyone interested in checking out the brand's lineup could visit a rental company within five miles of any major airport. But why dwell on the past when the Korean automaker is kicking butt and taking names in the here and now? Hyundai has been on a roll these past few years, with hits like the Genesis, Genesis Coupe and 2011 Sonata. With those successful entries, Hyundai has clearly established itself as a prime player in the U.S. market, but the company's improved standing has also substantially raised the public's levels of expectation. Where qualifiers like "for a Hyundai" were once the norm, we're now measuring each and every new entry donning the italic H against the best from Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Honda.

Hyundai's most recently refreshed product is the 2011 Azera. When the Azera first arrived on U.S. shores as a 2006 model, it came came close to nixing the "for a Hyundai" stigma with an impressive level of standard equipment and a lower price tag than its competition. But even with a strong value equation and plethora of amenities, that original Azera still wasn't as refined as the current crop of winners coming out of South Korea. Can the freshly redesigned 2011 Azera, with an improved powertrain and increased level of luxury equipment, truly succeed like its all-star siblings?

The Azera has received more than a mild refresh for 2011, with a pair of upgraded powertrains, new headlamps, taillamps, fog lights and a host of tweaks and tucks to the front and rear fascias. Our Midnight Blue Limited tester included the only available option, a $1,750 navigation system, nudging the Azera's MSRP to $32,620. That's still about $5,000 fewer greenbacks than a similarly equipped Toyota Avalon or Ford Taurus. A good deal? Perhaps, but competing in the full-size sedan segment means measuring up on more than just price.

When looking over the Azera from the outside, the large sedan's newest features shine brightest, and not just because we're talking head- and taillamps. The Azera's headlights are pretty special, with the LED-encrusted, Audi-like elements begging for attention. The taillamps are pretty snazzy as well, as Hyundai has gone a bit nuts with the light-emitting diodes. The chiseled front grill also impresses, borrowing its basic shape from the Genesis Sedan while going all-in with chrome in a decidedly American manner. We're also fans of the rich, sparkly Midnight Blue paint job, which gives the Azera a welcome touch of class.

While the Azera's updated exterior elements add a touch of freshness, there are still more than enough throwbacks to push it towards the back of the pack visually. Exhibit A: a tall and somewhat awkward greenhouse. Compared to the steeply-raked, coupe-like roofline of the Sonata, the Azera looks as if it were penned by a fan of Oldsmobiles from the 1990s, and it doesn't fare much better against sleek-looking competitors like the Nissan Maxima or Buick LaCrosse.

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited side view2011 Hyundai Azera Limited front view2011 Hyundai Azera Limited rear view

Given that the Azera underwent just a refresh and not full redesign, we expected the tweaked exterior to fall short of game-changing. But the interior is another matter altogether. Since it's easier to swap out cabin components than re-engineer sheetmetal, refreshed vehicles often receive fairly substantial interior upgrades. Sadly, not so with the Azera. The interior looks essentially unchanged from the outgoing model, save for some aluminum graining on the center console and a low-tech eco indicator that's about as interesting as a check engine light. The Azera's interior wasn't terrible before with a muted cabin, comfortable seats and reasonably high quality materials on the dash, seats and doors. Unfortunately, "good enough" just doesn't cut it in a segment where MSRPs regularly exceed $30,000. The Avalon, LaCrosse and Taurus far outshine the Azera in this regard with better materials, cushier armrests (the Azera's is as soft as diorite) and superior aesthetics all around.

Park a new Sonata next to an Azera and even the optically challenged can see the larger Hyundai offers a far less compelling cabin while commanding a starting price that's several thousand dollars lower. On the high end of the company showroom is the Genesis Sedan – a fair comparison given our tester was within $1,000 of the starting price of Hyundai's Lexus-fighter. The base Genesis and uplevel Azera also share the same basic powertrain and both offer near identical levels of interior volume. The difference, besides the Genesis being driven by its rear wheels and the Azera its fronts, is that the Genesis comes packed to the sunroof with amenities and interior refinement, while the Azera struggles even against the not-long-for-this-world Buick Lucerne. For instance, the sat-nav on the Genesis – a massive, modern-looking system – dwarfs the Azera's seven-inch unit in both size and design.

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited interior2011 Hyundai Azera Limited front seats2011 Hyundai Azera Limited door panel2011 Hyundai Azera Limited rear seats

So the Azera's interior is many meters short of segment leading, but there is some good news under the hood. Remember the part about the Azera and Genesis Sedan sharing the same engine? The Azera Limited's new 3.8-liter V6 churns out 283 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 263 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. (Lesser GLS models make do with a 3.3-liter V6 producing 260 hp and 233 lb-ft.). If you're thinking that the 3.8-liter provides a lot of pop for a sedan driven by its front wheels, you're right – particularly if you're slamming the go pedal from a dead stop. While bull riders would love that level of torque steer, we're less inclined to saddle up. But when you're already in motion, the extra punch is very welcome, and as an added bonus sounds damn good from the driver's seat.

When mated to its new, smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, the revised Lambda 3.8-liter V6 proves is very competent and impressively smooth – easily the best attribute the Azera has to offer. And all that power doesn't kill you at the pump, as the EPA rates the 3.8-liter V6-powered Azera at 27 miles per gallon on the highway and 19 mpg around town. We managed to average just under 22 mpg, mostly because we were "fully experiencing" the 3.8-liter engine.

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited engine

Dynamically, the Azera is competent for a vehicle that tips the scales at 3,585 pounds. Beyond its torque steer problem, Hyundai has managed to tie down the chassis to the extent that it doesn't offend an elderly buyer looking for a smooth ride. Body roll stays within an acceptable range, though our tester's 235/55VR17 Michelin rubber emitted predictably high levels of tire squeal when pushed. Steering was a bit heavier than we found at the helm of the similarly sized Avalon – generally a good thing – though any semblance of feel went undetected by our paws. Overall, the Azera feels just about how we'd expect a large family sedan to drive – not as tight as the Maxima and not as loose as the Avalon.

So we've established that the Azera shouldn't waste the application fee for any beauty contests, its interior could use some love and its powertrain is a strong suit. Is that enough to propel Hyundai's updated sedan past the "for a Hyundai" designation? In a word, no. Truth is, the competition from Toyota, Buick, Nissan and Ford has it all over the Azera in most every way. The closest the Azera comes to sniffing the winner's circle is with the Limited's excellent V6 engine, but this segment is chock-full of competent powertrains. And we'd argue that "for a Hyundai" isn't even fair to the marque's other products. Is it as good as a Sonata? The Genesis? No.

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited rear 3/4 view

So why has Hyundai decided to let it hang around? Even though it's been a slow seller, we hear that Hyundai has kept the Azera in its lineup for buyers who come in to sample the Sonata, only to walk away because its styling is too avant-garde. If that's the strategy at work, it also neatly explains the visual conservatization brought about with the car's 2011 facelift. Said another way, the Azera remains as a hedge bet for keeping elderly and more traditionally minded customers in the fold who are looking for comfortable full-size transportation with a good warranty. By that yardstick, it succeeds – but only just. In 2006, we would have called the Azera competent, affordable and perhaps even a bit surprising, but it's 2010, and these days we expect more.

Lamborghini Jota won’t be in attendance in Paris

Lamborghini teaser

We’re going to warn you now; what you’re about to read probably won’t sit well with you, especially if you’re one of those people that have been waiting for the Lamborghini Jota to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

According to Auto Guide, the highly anticipated successor to the Murcielago won’t be in attendance when the auto show kicks off in a week’s time. Instead, Lamborghini will only be bringing one concept vehicle to the show, the technology demonstrator concept that has been the subject of all those teaser images Lamborghini’s been releasing.

This latest news is, of course, crushing for everyone – including us – who have been waiting with baited breath to see the Jota completely undisguised. Unfortunately, all of us will just have to wait a little while longer.

Despite that largely deflating news, Lamborghini still has plans to make an impact at the annual event with the new technology concept they’ve developed over at Sant’Agata. It’s still one of the vehicles that we’re mostly looking forward to seeing, but it still doesn’t escape our disappointment that we’ll only be seeing one Lamborghini at the event instead of two.

[Source:Auto Guide]

Cadillac CTS-V Lab At Palm Beach International Raceway


If you’ve read my review of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V, it’s pretty clear that I loved the car. My only complaint was that I didn’t have an opportunity to drive it on a racetrack, and no sane individual is willing to explore the handling limits of a 565 horsepower sedan on public roads. I had to sum it up by saying the CTS-V was a “stunningly quick but well-behaved sedan”.

At the press introduction for the CTS-V Coupe, Cadillac announced a series of public test days, called the CTS-V Lab. Based upon market research, select members of the general public would receive an invitation to attend a track day session to drive the CTS-V Coupe at the limit. Journalists, we were told, would get a similar opportunity on a different day.

2010 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Your mission? Drive this car, as fast as the instructor tells you to.

Imagine my surprise when I received an invite to both sessions. Any guilt I may have had at “double dipping” was quickly offset by the opportunity to drive two track days instead of one; without a moment’s hesitation I jumped at the chance and signed up for both the public and the press test days.

Cadillac knows it needs to attract a different demographic if they’re to be successful with the CTS-V line, and their market research was evident by the vehicles in the parking lot. As you’d expect, there were quite a few BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes, and even an Aston Martin DB9 in the session I attended. Some of us were driving more mundane rides, but one thing was clear – GM was under-represented by the cars in the parking lot. Chatting with a few attendees on the way into the presentation, there was a certain cynicism among them. Did Cadillac really think they could build a car that was the performance and handling equal of the Germans? Going into the session, consensus would have been, “no”.

After presentations from a variety of Cadillac and GM staffers (including John Heinricy, the “godfather of the CTS-V” and the man who drove the 7:59 lap on the Nürburgring), we were given a safety briefing by a senior Skip Barber instructor. We were told to have fun, but respect the capabilities of the car and the concrete walls of the racetrack. We were also told to listen to the instructor who’d be driving along with us, as their job was to keep drivers of various abilities safe. As a former instructor myself, I didn’t envy them at all.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

CTS-V Wagon was on display, but wasn't available to drive.

Module one was a drag race and braking exercise with the CTS Coupe in “regular flavor”, with the 304 horsepower, 3.6 liter V6. On a short course (probably 1/8 mile), you lined up against another CTS-V Coupe, launched and raced to a braking chute where you stomped the brakes as hard as you could. Next, you progressed to an avoidance maneuver at instructor designated speeds, before flooring the brake pedal in another panic stop. The exercise was repeated three times, giving drivers a chance to get used to the feel of the car. Even without the Brembo brakes of the CTS-V, stopping distances were impressive, and there was no brake fade or loss of pedal feel throughout the exercise. Handling of the base coupe was surprisingly neutral, and Stabilitrack kept the rear in check even when the driver dialed in a sudden directional change. I’d stop short of calling the CTS Coupe a sports car, but it’s a very capable and sporty coupe, well worth the $38,165 price of admission.

Module two transitioned us to the CTS-V sedan. This time we launched the car from a stop, repeated the heavy braking exercise, then worked into a slalom course. The first run was at a relatively low speed, with the suspension in “Touring” mode. Successive runs were done with the suspension in “Sport” mode, and I’ll say this – the Magnetic Ride Control Suspension developed by GM is an engineering wonder. Think of it as using infinitely adjustable shock absorbers; you just need to tell the car if you want a comfortable ride (Touring mode) or if you prefer maximum handling (Sport mode). The Magnetic Ride Control then monitors your driving and adjusts shock stiffness (using a magnetic fluid and an electromagnetic charge) in milliseconds. There was a significant difference between Touring mode, which had noticeable body roll but neutral and predictable handling, and Sport mode, which virtually eliminated body roll. I was impressed by the suspension in street driving, but I was amazed by the suspension on the racetrack.

Module three put us into the CTS-V Coupe, and turned us loose on a half-track course of PBIR. With the guidance of an on-board instructor (and cones marking braking points, turn in, apex and corner exits), were allowed three laps at whatever speed we were comfortable driving. With a chicane in place on the back straight and a reduced track length, maximum velocity was probably around 100 mph. Still, it was enough to feel how hard the Coupe pulled to redline, as well as how good the Brembo brakes and Magnetic Ride Control suspension worked on the track.

Each track exercise was either preceded or followed by a classroom session with a Skip Barber instructor. I found the sessions informative and well presented, and I have to give Cadillac an enthusiastic thumbs up on the quality of their program. Track time and Skip Barber instruction is hard to beat, especially when it’s free of charge.

There was a noticeably different attitude from the attendees by the end of the day. Every single person who drove the CTS-V came away impressed, and I’d bet that more than a few would consider a CTS-V as their next ride. Cadillac has been so successful with the CTS-V that it’s outsold the BMW M5 and the Mercedes Benz E63 AMG combined, and the CTS Coupe is now second in it’s segment, outsold only by the BMW 3 Series Coupe. Impressive stats, especially since the CTS Coupe has only been on the market for about six weeks.

If I had the bank, I’d certainly consider a CTS-V; in fact, if I have any wealthy fans who want to surprise me for Christmas, I’ll take a White Diamond Tricoat Sedan with the Dark Graphite Wheels, the Recaro seats and the suede steering wheel, please. To make things easier for you, here’s a picture below.

2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

So what about the press track day? I’ll write that up for tomorrow and may even give you some in-car camera footage. Just to keep you interested, I’ll tell you this: my maximum velocity at the end of the PBIR back straight was 133 miles per hour, and that wasn’t pushing the car to the limit. If you can think of something that’s more entertaining while wearing clothes, I’d love to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

STAFFORD KIT CAR SHOW ........ Another great show, lots of interest in the Zero kit.

Great British Sports Cars had a great weekend at Stafford Kit Car Show, lots of interest in the Zero and lots of test drives booked in the new factory built Zero demonstrator. The next Kit Car show we will be attending is Exeter Kit Car Show in October. For more information about the Zero please visit our website and to book your test drive in the new Zero demonstrator please call 01623 860 990.

Land Rover reveals the Evoque

2012 Land Rove Evoque

Here's the production 2012 Range Rover Evoque in all its glory, and the LRX-inspired CUV is lighter, meaner and greener than anything to come from the Range Rover arsenal.

Buyers can opt for three exterior design themes: Pure, a minimalistic take with 19-inch wheels and natural colors complemented by brushed metal trim adorning the insides; Prestige, a "bespoke exterior" treatment with exclusive 19-inch wheels paired "an indulgent interior;" or Dynamic, with 19- or 20-inch wheels a reworked bodykit, and a sportier cabin complete with perforated leather seats and a bit more bling.

Inside, the interior is influenced not only by the Range Rover Sport, but by Jaguar as well. Seriously bolstered seats straddle a center tunnel where a rotary gear transmission selector rises to hand. The four-setting Terrain Response System dial has been replaced with buttons attending an illuminated menu and controls are mainly managed through an eight-inch touchscreen. Aural enjoyment is provided by the 825-watt, 17-speaker Meridian sound system with additional inputs for other peripherals.

Underneath the Evoque's hood is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that, naturally, is not called EcoBoost. Referred to as the Si4, it's been developed for North American audiences and produces 240 horsepower that runs through a six-speed automatic transmission. Electric power steering is standard, a regenerative electrical system captures energy when things get hauled down and everything is kept on an even keel thanks to a MagneRide adaptive dynamics suspension.

Dodge Challenger SRT10 in 2011?


I went to the SEMA show in Las Vegas back in 2008 and one of the first cars I noticed there was a new Dodge Challenger dubbed the SRT10 concept. Obviously the SRT10 denotes that this particular Challenger packed the same 600 hp V10 hammer under the hood that came standard in Dodge’s Viper, but up until now actual production of this car has been just a rumor. Now, according to we’re hearing that this V10 monster may actually see the light of day. We just posted that the new 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8′s 6.4-liter HEMI will pump out 475 hp, and while an impressive number it still falls short of Ford’s Shelby GT500 Mustang’s 550 hp. Combine this with news of a new high horsepower Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and Dodge has every reason to produce a car such as the Challenger SRT10.

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT10

As of right now there is no word if the car will be produced by Dodge or shipped off to a subcontractor like Roush Performance. Either way we really hope that Dodge has the stones to step up to the plate with this thing and give the boys of the blue oval and the Chevy bow-tie a real run for their money. Let’s just hope that pricing isn’t too far out of whack in comparison to the competition, because if that happens then all this hoopla and the car itself will just be an exercise in futility.

Click here to find out more!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

There are pros and cons to two erstwhile rivals sharing the same roof. On the one hand, they can share resources, but on the other, they have to be careful not to step on each-other's toes. Sharing corporate space with Aston Martin meant that Jaguar had to clip its own wings when it came to the XKR for years, as evidenced by the more powerful versions that have come out since the two split.

There's no doubt that Maserati has benefited tremendously from its association with Ferrari, but that has consequently meant that the Trident marque has had to adopt a different approach, catering to a more luxury-oriented market than the raw performance of its big brother on the Prancing Horse. But that doesn't mean they can't push the envelop just a little, and that's what you're looking at here.

Called the MC Stradale, this ultimate version of the GranTurismo bridges the gap between road and race models in the same way the revolutionary Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale did in its day – and as the all-conquering 430 Scuderia did subsequently. To get there, Maserati's tuned the chassis, aero and engine to more closely resemble the levels attained on racing versions like the MC Trofeo spec racer and the GT4 competition model.

Modena claims increased downforce without a commensurate increase in drag, while the engine has been boosted to 450 horsepower as compared to the 430 in the existing GranTurismo S. That's about all the Italians have released at this point, but you're cordially invited to read the brief press release after the jump and check out the images in the gallery below as Maserati prepares the GranTurismo MC Stradale for its debut at the Paris Motor Show next week.

[Source: Maserati]

2014 Lotus Elite


Lotus’ plan of reinventing its brand after years of mediocrity is looking less and less like wishful thinking after the company officially released initial details of their future hybrid supercar, the 2014 Elite.

It’s been widely known that the British sports car maker is aggressively pushing to remake their entire portfolio to cater to a more upper echelon consumer base and if everything goes according to plan, the 2014 Elite should be the first of many aggressively designed sports cars the company is looking to introduce to the market.

Word has it that the Elite will be powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces around 500-plus horsepower with a 0-60 mph time of around 3.5 seconds and a top speed of just under 200 mph at 196 mph. If these numbers are anywhere close to what the production version of the Elite will be capable of, then you can expect the supercar, with the aggressive backing of the company, to be a player in a market long dominated by the likes of Aston Martin, Audi and Porsche. Even the car’s expected price tag - £115,000 – is right up there with the Porsches of the world.

As for the new – and aggressive – design of the car, the man behind it, designer Donato Coco, left no stones unturned in giving the Elite a more aggressive approach by adding some depth to the car’s front fascia. As somebody who noted the two-dimensional looks of prior Lotus vehicles, Coco’s design of the Elite is about as good as it can get for a brand looking to be edgier and more upscale that what its previous reputation suggests.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback

Thumbs Up: Reasonable handling, great build quality, good fuel economy and an incredible amount of content for the price

Thumbs Down: Footwell legroom discourages cross-country trips

Buy This Car If: You’re looking for maximum content at a minimal price

Not too long ago, entry level cars were defined by their absolute lack of everything. Styling, if you could call it that, was bland and uninspired. Climb inside, and you were lucky to get A/C and an FM radio. Most econoboxes had roll up windows, seats designed during the Spanish Inquisition and acceleration that was nearly as brisk as, say, a glacier. They were what you bought straight out of college, and you hoped that the car would last longer than its payments.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

If you haven’t driven an entry level car in a while, take your preconceived notions and throw them out the window. Then go drive the new Ford Fiesta, and I guaranteed you’ll come away with a whole new perspective. The car actually has an appealing style to it, and the interior can be as well appointed as you budget allows. Want leather seats? They’re available. Want Sirius satellite radio and a surprisingly good sound system with a USB input? Check. Want Ford’s Synch system for voice command of audio and cell phone? It’s standard in the higher trim levels. In fact, the only thing you can’t get in the Fiesta is a conventional nav system; this is a moot point, because the Synch system allows you to request turn by turn directions, eliminating the need for an additional nav system.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

The Fiesta comes as a four door sedan or a five door hatchback. My tester was the five door hatchback, which, coincidentally, is my favorite body style. Need to haul for passengers? No problem. Need to haul big boxes? No problem in the hatchback, big problem in the sedan. Unlike earlier entry-level Fords (the original Fiesta, for example), the 2011 Fiesta SES hatchback has an appealing style all its own, The front fenders are sculpted and flow into the hood, with the lines carrying all the way to the grille. LED driving lights are offset by deep chrome bezels that lead into the flared front wheel arches. An upper character line begins on the front fender and spans the driver and passenger door at an upward angle to denote speed. A similar upswept character line starts at the bottom of the front fender and traverses the doors. Combined with the car’s overall aerodynamic shape, the styling conveys speed and motion, adding to the visual appeal of the car. You may be driving an inexpensive car, but you’re not driving one that looks or feels cheap.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

Inside, the front seats are leather and feature contrasting piping to add to the car’s upscale feel. Deep side bolsters provide plenty of support for enthusiastic cornering, yet don’t intrude on overall comfort. Despite being adjustable for height, reach and seatback tilt only, I found the driver’s seat to be comfortable enough for all day driving. The front seats are even heated (if you opt for the Comfort Upgrade Package), not something you would expect to find in an entry level commuter car.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

With rear seats up, a parcel shelf hides your valuables

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

Rear seats down, there's plenty of cargo room.

Rear seats are big enough for two adults, and even offer decent legroom considering the Fiesta’s diminutive size. The seats split and fold 60/40, but the rear headrests must be removed first with the seatback in a partially folded position. An included parcel shelf keeps valuables out of sight when the rear seats are up and is easily detached for maximum cargo room.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

The three spoke steering wheel is well shaped, including thumb cutouts at 9:00 and 3:00, and ridged grips at 10:00 and 2:00. The steering wheel contains controls for the phone, audio and cruise control, and is leather wrapped in higher end models. The dash is beautiful, and uses sculpted and textured soft touch plastic offset by aluminum and matte black trim. Audio controls are atop the center console, and the audio display is also used for things like phone data and Synch turn-by-turn directions. Icon based HVAC controls are easy to interpret and easier to operate. The Euro influence is clear in the interior design, and again you’re left with the impression of driving a much more expensive car.

2011 Ford Focus SES

Instrumentation in the Fiesta consists of a tachometer and speedometer, deep set in stylized binnacles. Splitting the two gauges is the driver information display on top, followed by a warning light screen below, followed by a fuel gauge at the bottom. Numbers are large and easy to read, and the driver information display provides a surprising amount of information for a car at this price point.

The only real complaint I had on the interior was footwell room; because of the car’s narrow width and accelerator pedal placement, my right leg was braced against the center console with no room to move while driving. This isn’t a big deal for the average commute. but longer trips with the Fiesta would require the use of cruise control.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

The Fiesta uses a 1.6 liter, four cylinder motor, good for 120 horsepower and 112 ft lb of torque. My tester came mated to a five speed manual transmission, although a six peed automatic is an available option. Acceleration is adequate, given the Fiesta’s emphasis on fuel economy over performance, and zero to sixty comes up in about 9.5 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, and I saw actual fuel economy of 29.8 mpg in spirited, mostly-city driving.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

Handling is surprisingly good, considering that the Fiesta SES isn’t meant for autocrossing. Steering is nicely weighted and provides excellent feedback on what the front wheels are doing. The car feels like it has a low center of gravity, and body roll isn’t bad even when the Fiesta is pushed hard into corners. I would give the Fiesta’s overall platform an A, and I’m absolutely certain that tuners will be building some very fast Fiestas in the next few years.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

My 20110 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback had a base price of $17,795, including destination charge. Options on my tester included the $795 Comfort Upgrade Package (Heated Front Seats, Chrome Belt Line Molding, Keyless Entry With Push Button Start, Chrome Decklid Molding, Perimeter Alarm), the $300 Yellow Blaze Tri Coat Paint, and the $715 Leather Seating for a total sticker price of $19,605. For comparison, a similar Honda Fit can be had for $17,160, but that comes without leather seats, Ford’s Synch system or heated seats. A stripped Fiesta SES, which is more comparable in content to the Honda Fit, is $17,795.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

This is the second time I’ve had an opportunity to drive the new Fiesta, and my week with the tester reinforced my initial impressions. This isn’t your father’s econobox, and I suspect that the new Fiesta will draw in buyers across a wide range of demographics. It’s solidly built, and it highlights the industry’s new trend of up-contenting smaller cars to appeal to a broader audience. I would have no hesitation in recommending the new Fiesta to anyone, and I think it may well prove to be Ford’s most successful small car in years.


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