2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES Review

Highs and lows

  • Dynamic, fuel-efficient powertrain
  • Unimpressive braking performance
  • Tight interior

A youthful, energetic subcompact

The jazzy little 2012 Ford Fiesta clearly knows how to put up a good fight in the subcompact segment. With a dynamic gearbox and firm yet not too stiff suspension, this nimble athlete flies on an average of only 6.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES

From fiery to feisty

First things first: the festive Fiesta is a sight to behold. Driving a bright Race Red model which I nicknamed ''Clamato,'' I admittedly struggled to get used to the cascade of fiery red accents in the otherwise ultra-stylish interior.

The large A-pillars impede front three-quarter view, while the small rear window is partly obstructed by the three headrests. On the other hand, when properly adjusted, the wide-angle, convex side mirrors make up for the lack of visibility and also minimize blind spots.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta boasts a feisty 1.6L mill that generates 120 horsepower, in this case through a wonderful 6-speed automatic transmission. Engine response is superb, and should you find yourself in a hurry, just put more zest on the throttle and the shifts will be quicker.

Braking performance fails to impress. Even the top-of-the-line SES model makes do with rear drums. During our recent 2012 Subcompact Hatchback Comparison Test, the Fiesta's brake pedal didn't respond as quickly as the others.

Another letdown was interior room. In order to drop the rear seatbacks, you first have to move the front buckets forward. And after testing the larger Suzuki Kizashi and Nissan Rogue in the weeks before my road test of the 2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback, I can tell you that I was pretty shocked to be able to reach the passenger's side door just by leaning slightly to my right.

2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES front 3/4 view

The jazzy little 2012 Ford Fiesta clearly knows how to put up a good fight in the subcompact segment. (Photo: Marie-Andrée Ayotte)

Sophisticated equipment

In SES trim, the Fiesta carries basically the same amenities as its bigger siblings including heated seats, cruise control, Bluetooth and audio controls on the steering wheel as well as Ford's exclusive SYNC infotainment system. However, the optional power sunroof costs a lot more than that of the Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent.

In terms of safety, the automaker jam-packed the interior with seven standard airbags including a driver's knee blocker. Plus, in the event of a crash in which an airbag deploys, SYNC will use your paired phone to connect you directly with a 911 operator. Consider it ''OnStar Lite.''

The windshield wiper and turn signal stalks now handle more duties. You can depress them to browse through the various menus on the screen. Average speed, distance travelled, fuel consumption and real-time range are just some of the information you can access here.

2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES dashboard

In SES trim, the Fiesta carries basically the same amenities as its bigger siblings including heated seats, cruise control, Bluetooth and audio controls on the steering wheel as well as SYNC infotainment system. (Photo: Marie-Andrée Ayotte)

Pure vitamin C

This diminutive piece of Euro-flavoured automotive engineering isn't thirsty at all. Like I said earlier, my tester posted an average of 6.5L/100km, which had me laughing almost hysterically when I stopped by the gas station to fill up the 45.4L tank. What's more, you don't even have to worry about the cap thanks to Ford's EasyFuel filler system.

The Fiesta offers a choice of vibrant, energetic colours such as Red Candy, Blue Candy, Lime Squeeze, and Yellow Blaze. Not your cup of tea? Black, grey, silver, and white are also available.

2012 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES right side view

This diminutive piece of Euro-flavoured automotive engineering isn't thirsty at all. My tester posted an average of 6.5L/100km. (Photo: Marie-Andrée Ayotte)

Let's talk price

The entry-level model starts at $12,999, either in 4-door or 5-door body style. That amount will get you a 5-speed manual gearbox, electric power steering, antilock brakes, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, CD player, and 15'' steel wheels.

A few extras and climate control will quickly boost the price, however. In the end, a fully loaded Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES, complete with leather seats, heated mirrors, lots of interior accents, ambient lighting, 16'' alloy wheels, and a premium 6-speaker sound system featuring SYNC, will relieve you of more than $22,000!