Global customers to share Fiesta’s core

  • 18-Sep-2008 03:16 EDT
Fiesta hi res 20.jpg

The sixth-generation Ford Fiesta is expected to achieve a Euro NCAP five-star occupant protection rating.

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"T­he new ­Fiesta is a blueprint for the future," said Darren Palmer, For­d’­s Project Manager,­ Global B-Car. "It will be built on three cont­inents an­d sold on five. The cars produced across the world will share core technologies but will be specially tuned for each region."

In Europe, Fiesta is­ being manufactured initially at Ford’s Niehl plant in Cologne, Germany, and from early next year at Valencia, Spain. By 2010, production of the car will come on stream at Nanjing, China; Rayong, Thailand; and at Cautitlan, Mexico.

It is 32 years since the first Fiesta was unveiled. Since then, 12 million have been manufactured, but the new generation (the sixth), now entering production in Europe, marks a "one Ford for the world" philosophy—a single global company producing vehicles for a single global customer base.

At the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford unveiled the Verve concept and made no secret of the fact that the production Fiesta would bear a close resemblance to it and would be, in the parlance of Ford of Europe (FoE) Design Director Martin Smith, a "sprinty" car that would appeal to "design progressives."

It uses the "kinetic" design that is incorporated in other current FoE models, with sculpted body sides and steeply sloping A-pillars and large windshield. The three-door hatch looks coupe-esque, and the five-door manages to incorporate that signature, with a rising beltline and kickup at the C-pillar.

The trapezoidal main grille is sufficiently large to meet the cooling needs of a variety of powertrains, said Smith.

Kinetic elements continue into the interior. "It represents a breakthrough in transforming shapes," said Smith. The upper center console’s HMI is modeled on mobile telephones, and there is a wide range of bold colors and materials. In fact, colors have been tuned to trim level, explained Smith, with the Sport model having high contrasts, the luxury version tone-on-tone soft shades, and the top of the range Titanium version echoing modern technology with high-contrast metallic highlights.

Interior space is greater than that of the previous Fiesta. Seat comfort and orthopedic efficiency (in the past an often disappointing aspect of small Fords) has been markedly improved. There is 286 mm (11.3 in) of fore and aft adjustment and 55 mm (2.2 in) of height adjustment for the driver. Luggage space is flexible from 295 to 979 L (10.4 to 34.6 ft³).

While the aesthetics of the Fiesta are central to its market success, its technology (it shares some underpinnings such as the chassis metalwork and some engines with the Mazda2) is equally significant.

Palmer underlined the importance of the company’s weight-saving program. The car has virtually the same footprint as the outgoing model but is 40 kg (88 lb) lighter and 10% torsionally stiffer at 680 kN (153,000 lb) per rad. "And the key suspension mounting points are over 200% stiffer at road load frequencies," he explained.

More than 55% of the body uses high-strength steel—the highest proportional figure of any current Ford—"and remarkable in the industry," said Palmer. Bake-hardened steel is used for the front fenders, and the door-ring reinforcement uses boron steel.

Specific area/component weights include 128 kg (282 lb) for the underbody and 117 kg (258 lb) for the upper-body with closures weighing 69 kg (152 lb).

Weight reduction was achieved by careful design of every component, with engineers responsible reporting regularly to senior management about how they had optimized weight on components for which they had responsibility. Savings included 0.650 kg (1.4 lb) for the front bumper beam, 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) for the front grille module, 0.400 kg (0.88 lb) for airbags, and a modest but useful 50 g (1.8 oz) for each front hub.

The car has electric-power-assisted steering to save weight and energy, bringing a fuel consumption reduction of 3% compared to an hydraulic system. The motor is a three-phase brushless type, speed dependent, and with normal and sport calibrations. The new system also offers pull drift compensation, whereby the car senses when it is on a camber and automatically adjusts the steering feel back to center.

Significant safety aspects of the Fiesta include up to seven airbags—and the first kneebag in a small Ford. The company expects a Euro NCAP five-star occupant protection rating to be achieved by the Fiesta but has given no indication of a likely star rating for pedestrian impact.

Separate load paths for comfort and crispness responses were elements of the Fiesta’s design. The front antiroll bar is 3 mm (0.12 in) thicker than before at 22 mm (0.87 in). Roll stiffness of the previous Fiesta was 1418 N·m (1046 lb·ft) per degree. That has been upped to 1550 (1143), with the sport version at 1676 (1236).

Particular emphasis was placed on the Fiesta’s diesel and gasoline powertrain emissions, said Palmer. The diesel figure for the 1.4-L and 1.6-L Duratorq TDCi engines is 110 g/km. Diesels use EGR (exhaust gas recirculation), pilot injection optimization, and software optimization. The 1.25-L gasoline engine has a compression ratio upped from 10.3:1 to 11.1:1, helping catalyst lightoff time.

All new Fiestas get a feature called stall prevention, which operates during low-speed maneuvers by changing the engine’s ignition profile to provide added torque.

An ultra-low-emissions Fiesta ECOnetic is scheduled, with a 1.6-L diesel engine returning a CO2 figure of 98 g/km and fuel consumption of 3.7 L/100 km.

The test program of the new Fiesta included 240,000 km (149,000 mi) or 10 years equivalent, which matches the regime for large cars. The test fleet included 170 prototypes, covered some 3.5 million km (2.2 million mi) of on-road durability work, and 300,000 tests on doors and tailgates. The broad span and capabilities and work of the development team reflect the importance of the new car.

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