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Sporty Spice

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I am writing this review after a very long day of interviews, editing, pictorials, and traffic. That I have anything good to say about anything simply means that the 2012 Ford Fiesta Sport Plus is really ready to wow even the snarkiest of motorists

The 2012 Ford Fiesta 1.6L Sport Plus is a nifty little car—which took me from Makati to Greenhills this afternoon in six minutes flat despite the afternoon weekday traffic. Ha!

This supermini hatchback was small enough to move around bumper- to-bumper traffic on Edsa and fast enough to overtake drivers who have no concept of an inner lane. It also handled well enough around island corners and huge buses (whose drivers have made it their daily hobby to swing in and out of their assigned lane—where’s a cop when you need one?).

The best thing of all about the 2012 Fiesta Sport Plus is that it put me in such a good mood, that it took me 30 minutes to recall what hell I went through today just so I could write the first two paragraphs of this story.

The Ford make means the Fiesta Sport is guaranteed to turn heads. But, mostly, it turned the heads of drivers in the lane next to me who really didn’t want me to insert the sporty little car in front of them. But before they could tailgate, I had switched lanes. Having signaled first, of course.

Some of those cars were really fast subcompacts I’d driven before too. I could almost feel the surprise of the slow throng I left in my wake. (It is 10:19 p.m. of 12 September 2012 and if you saw me on Edsa this afternoon and ended up shaking your fist at my dust, I apologize. I had tons of work in the office screaming for me to come back.)

What I Love Most
Not even looking at the (smashing!) design details first, I can feel how posh this car is by the very small details that only avid (lady) drivers will likely care about. The first tiny detail I liked is how I could turn on the AC to my preferred default temperature by a single turn of a knob. Other cars have me pushing two buttons and then turning two knobs! Sorry, but I’m plenty lazy when I’m psyching myself up to drive in traffic for three hours and then work for eight hours until the new day begins.

Another thing I love is the one- touch (auto down and up) function of the power windows. Now, I know some people prefer the one-touch function only on the way down because it’s more kid-friendly. But I’ve no kids or animals who can get their extremities snapped by the window after I’ve grabbed my burger from the drive-thru service crew and sped off.

I also love that the power door locks are on the dashboard. I can check the locks without turning my head away from the windscreen. Many of the Fiesta Sport’s controls feel very European— from the headlight control dial on the dash to the wing mirror controls on the door. (Door-mounted mirror controls? Very Euro-retro!)

The squarish, sporty feel of the steering wheel and gearstick are a nice break from the rounded contours of those in most cars. I’m not exactly sure that I’d like to be feeling this kind of squarish thickness on a long drive, but it sure eased my tired knuckles and carpal tunnel syndrome. Maybe that’s why race cars have thick, flattened steering wheels. (No, I won’t pretend to know about the ergonomics of race cars.)

Finally, the reason I simply adore the 2012 FoFi Sport is the under-seat storage where I can put my shoes, flip-flops, plastic bags for the store, wipes, valet receipts, notebooks, and all the other kalat I seem to mysteriously collect weekly. Ford peeps: Are you sure this is a guy’s car? Because I can’t imagine any woman resisting the urge to buy this upon clapping eyes on all that extra storage.

Ladies: It’s an adventure to find all the places in this car where you can stick your receipts, IDs, and business cards! There’s even a windscreen clip to hold your car pass.

My only storage complaint is the location of the cup-holders. I kept having to maneuver around my go-large Coke as I released the handbrake.

Dashing Design Deets
Now, take a look at the picture of the car exterior and I’ll walk you through what is utterly to-die-for in its yumminess. And I’m not even talking about the show-stopping twin racing stripes.

The front and rear bumper skirts not only give this car a sporty, lowered look, they also conceal the pretty good clearance (more on that in a minute). The twin chamber, halogen headlamps are low, sweeping, and sleek—and gave me an excellent, detailed view of the dangerously dark stretch of Katipunan flyover right before Ateneo. Fog lamps are found front and rear (controlled by buttons on either side of the main headlamp knob).

Did you see the car’s clean behind? Beautiful! No messy exhaust tips sticking out.

Onto the grille. It’s the perfect shape, a trapezoid, and would turn more heads if the number plate wasn’t right smack in the center of it. As if making up for concealing the grille and, maybe, to emphasize its shape, the designers added two little chrome trapezoids on both lower corners.

The good news: My trapezoid fetish is fully realized in the newly tweaked 2012 FoFi Sport—which tweaking was announced in the run-up to the Paris Motor Show that starts September 29.

If, like me, you are partial to a more European-looking car exterior, you will swoon when you see the freshly tweaked Fiesta Sport. The number plate now rests below the trapezoidal grille. The front fog lamps, flush on the bumper in this model you see here, will sit inside trapezoidal surrounds in the newer model. And there will be a lower grille forming an inverted trapezoid, making the face of the car look more expensive.

The headlamps have also been updated in the late-2012 model courtesy of the LED, daytime-running function.

Now, look at the bonnet? Flat, right? Well, the new FoFi hood will be domed, raised, creased, and positively Teutonic!

Perennial Performance
I already told you about my little speed adventure with this supermini. I have to emphasize just how terribly fast around corners it is. So fast and smooth that I had a very hard time resisting the urge to whip this baby around anything I could find on the road, even imagined potholes.

What’s more, I just had to chuckle as I sped right over the cracks along Annapolis Street and White Plains Road (I bet you know which ones) that had other motorists slowing down or swerving to avoid. The suspension on this car is so terrific that I hardly felt anything. And despite its lowered look, it cleared humps quite well, even when I naughtily refused to slow down.

As for its acceleration, it’s a man’s car not a boy’s. (Hey, it’s a Ford!) It will not accelerate willy-nilly and you will have to handle it as you do an expensive car. So don’t balk at the delayed response time. It’s a useful antidote to hotheaded driving.

Solid Sounds
You can check out the dashboard photos to see all the gizmos that come with the 2012 Fiesta Plus. What pictures cannot show you are the posh sounds. I’m not talking about the audio, which is adequate. I’m talking about the clicks and whirrs that sound like they belong to a car upwards of 2 million pesos— and you’ll be surprised at how tacky some of the sounds are that come from supposedly luxury sedans!

I initially thought it was the excellent cabin insulation but even with my door open, the clicks and whirrs sounded posh. You probably think me crazy by now, but have you ever listened to your hazard clicks? Pretty much the same for all cars, you say? Well, I thought so too, until I heard the one in this car. This one is low and modulated. It didn’t get annoying even after I waited for 20 whole minutes for the person I was picking up.

The whirr the seat makes as it slides sound expensive as well. Maybe it’s the sliding mechanism or the fact that I’m holding a cool, matte-handled, easy-to-reach lever (rather than an oily metal one tucked way beneath the seat), whatever it is, it’s awesome. Even the three-point rear park assist is a gentle warning compared to the shrill beeps that emanate from certain more expensive cars.

The sweetest sound of all is the one the engine makes when you step on the accelerator. It’s positively addicting! But even if I indulged myself way too much, the Fiesta consumed much less gas than I expected from a Ford. It is comparable to the fuel consumption of most economical, non-hybrid, Asian makes you can think of.

The car doors of this century will probably never again sound like the solidly closing doors of yore that your granddad’s car had. But this comes pretty close, even when one of our reporters, notorious for banging car doors, felt the need to victimize this one too. All this points to a solidly built car that you will want to (and can) keep around for years.

Print ed: 10/12

 

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