Ford’s Frugal Fiesta Hits 40 MPG

In case you missed its unceremonious debut (falling out of a giant flaming piñata) on Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night, the new Ford Fiesta has arrived. Ford unveiled official specs for the new model along with a menagerie of candy-colored floor models in more typical style at the LA Auto Show on Wednesday.

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Besides a sporting and distinctly youth-targeted design, the Fiesta’s most impressive specs come from its refined engine, which should be capable of 40 miles per gallon on the highway. That puts it head to head with Chevrolet’s recently unveiled Cruze, a fact Ford’s own comparison charts seem to have curiously omitted.

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Unlike the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine GM has opted for in the Cruze, Ford has reached for a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four banger. That gives it 119 horsepower to the turbocharged Cruze’s respectable 138.

Ford has also highlighted its PowerShift six-speed transmission, which offers drivers the fuel economy usually associated with manual models in a more convenient automatic.

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Safety features include a frame built of 50 percent high-strength steel and a rather quirky class-exclusive driver’s knee airbag.

The Fiesta will debut for the 2011 model year at prices yet to be announced.

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