By on August 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordRemember Antonella?

Antonella was a 28-year-old Italian, living in the heart of Rome in the latter part of the last decade, who needed a nimble and stylish Ford.

Antonella has changed. Antonella has more money. She no longer lives with her parents. She has, say it politely, aged, though she’s “still very expressive,” Ford of Europe’s design boss George Saridakis tells Automotive News Europe. Since Antonella changed, the Ford Fiesta for which she was created (or vice versa) has also changed. Ford of Europe now hopes 10 percent of Europe’s Antonellas will choose the upmarket Fiesta Vignale.

What about Antonella’s cousin, Amy in Cleveland? Ford probably hopes she’ll buy a 2018 EcoSport. But if we’re going to be honest about Amy (a TTAC creation), we all know Ford’s inadvertently pulling her into the leftover 2017 Escape she’s been eyeing, the one with a $2,500 discount and interest-free financing over 84 months.

Remember Antonella? Ford created the youthful female to be an imaginary target buyer for the 2011 Fiesta. There were others like her.

Natasha was created on behalf of 2009’s Lincoln C Concept. Natasha must have died, because Lincoln never actually followed through on actually building that car.

Jack was the life of the party when he bought a 2010 Taurus, The New York Times reported in 2009.

For the Ford F-150, there were two individuals, not surprising given the high-volume nature of the vehicle. They were “heroes of the neighborhood,” schlepping refurbished furniture up and down the street and hauling mulch for the subdivision’s truck-less gardener.

Ashley was supposed to be a cool mom who bought a Ford Transit Connect. “She dresses up like her children at Halloween,” The Times said. As we know, Ashley and her friends decided Grand Caravans, Siennas, and Odysseys were more prudent purchases.

But Antonella was the star, and with more money to spend and more friends to influence, she’s back for more. The Ford Fiesta is a segment leader in Europe, so Ford wants to build on the car’s success to capture a larger chunk of the upscale subcompact market. The company says subcompacts costing more than €20,000 ($23,800) formed more than 15 percent of the European subcompact market.

The upscale Titanium model that previously accounted for more than four-in-10 Fiesta sales will lose market share as the Vignale steps in to take its place. Ford still sees a quarter of Europe’s Fiesta buyers opting for the three-door model, a variant that was never offered in the U.S. during the prior generation’s tenure.

Americanized Antonellas, however, appear to be near nonexistent. Ford appears to have no plans to import the seventh-generation Fiesta to its home market. In a market that’s turning its back on subcompact cars while increasingly favoring subcompact crossovers, Antonella remains a fake image in the minds of Ford’s European product planners. On one side of the Atlantic, Antonella lives.

On the other? RIP Antonella.

[Image: Ford Europe]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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22 Comments on “Ford Motor Company’s Antonella Wants a Nicer Fiesta Now, but There’s No Antonellas in America...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    “Natasha was created on behalf of 2009’s Lincoln C Concept. Natasha must have died, because Lincoln never actually followed through on actually building that car.”

    You know what I love about these theoretical marketing exercises? I get older, they stay the same age.

  • avatar
    ajla

    This is Sylvester. Age 35.

    He is the target driver for the Monte Carlo. He has been arrested twice for indecent exposure but is not on the sex offender register. He most often wears a plain t-shirt with gray wool pants and a knock off two-tone Rolex. The top of his dresser contains 7 different brands of cologne. His apartment is decorated in neon signs and tasteful erotica. He is looking for a vehicle that will impress both when he picks up his 17 year old girlfriend from remedial classes and when arriving at his job managing the local bowling alley.

  • avatar

    Antwanella drives a Ford, but its not a Fiesta; Its a ’12 Fusion SE with 20″ Verde Regency rims with no center caps left, paid for by the Progressive insurance claim check that was supposed to cover the damage to the rear quarter panel, electrical-taped taillamp, and flailing bumper cover. The 129k-mile 6F35 6-speed whines like her three children every time she accelerates onto the freeway onramp to get to her second-shift CNA job at The Acres Senior Living and Memory Care.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      Hey, lay of the CNA/caregivers. Thanks to my girl, I’ve ended up doing work at a bunch of facilities and those people are practically fucking saints as far as I’m concerned. Shit wages,but you need to pass a live scan, not great working conditions, stress, exposure to all types of shit,including actual shit..the list goes on.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Flybrian, spot on (including 6F35 issues). A coworker that works at a site an hour away has about 250k and counting on his ’10 Fusion. Well worn feeling/looking, and the transmission flares on shifts, but it keeps on plugging along.

      Alternative to the 20 inch rims is apparently to pull off the pseudo-alloy hubcap to expose the skinny 5 spoke black stamped steel wheels underneath. The same “mod” is commonly seen on ’08-’12 malibus.

  • avatar
    Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

    Ford Motor Company’s Antonella Wants a Nicer Fiesta Now, but There’s No Antonellas in America

    There Are No Antonellas….

    “There’s” indicates one.
    “There’re” indicates plural (Antonellas).

    Your welcome. [sic]

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Ford gave the U.S. market a pile, and lost a generation or more of customers with the Fiesta/Focus junk peddled on Americans. Ford is giving the small sedan market to the Corolla/Civic/Elantra and following FCA’s SUV/CUV/Truck lead. What Ford is too stupid to realize is that eventually those Fiesta/Focus types graduate to Highlanders, Rav4’s, CRV’s, etc., possibly overlooking the Escape, Edge, & Explorer in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      We have a 2013 Focus SE hatchback. After 60k miles, the only failure has been the front passenger window switch. The car is quiet and economical (low 30s lifetime average gas mileage). The engine responds well to being wound up to red line. My only criticism of its handling is that it could use more roll stiffness. Ours is a 5-speed manual. I agree that Ford (or its transmission supplier) screwed up the dual clutch “automatic”. My only regret is that I should have spent more to get the Platinum trim level. Ford, sadly, has chosen to discontinue the 5-speed manual. Therefore, when our Focus wears out, its successor won’t be another Focus.

      We also test drove the equivalent Fiesta. Compared to the Focus, it was similarly quiet and comfortable, smaller, more economical and significantly slower. This last is why we rejected it in favor of the Focus. (The Fiesta ST didn’t exist at the time.)

  • avatar
    Speed3

    3/4 of Americans are overweight so small cars are just not comfortable for a lot of people.

    High end compact cars are really only attractive to people who live in urban areas where parking is tight and streets are narrow – not much of the US.

    So for these reasons, the market just isn’t that big. Although this car would definitely be on my short list.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I’ve heard many rotund colleagues brag about how they don’t fit in Focus sized cars or smaller. Not because they’re too tall, but because they’re too fat.

      I never understand why they consider this to be a point of pride.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      I’ve always heard that the Volkswagen New Beetle was not just a “chick car,” but that it was unusually popular with (and comfortable for) “women of size.” In the U.S. “Fat Antonella” bought a Volkswagen Beetle.

      In some ways it was sort the same principle that was behind the AMC Pacer.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I’ve heard the same about the Suzuki SX4.

        Not sure why this was the case, but it was apparently the vehicle of choice for the discerning famine resistant compact car shopper. Higher hip point, maybe?

  • avatar

    I’d hope Amy can do basic maths, 84 montns is a bad idea

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Anotella had better be thankful Ford didn’t sick Amanda Knox on her while she was living in Rome.

  • avatar
    JDG1980

    The Ford Fiesta isn’t as cheap as the Nissan Versa, isn’t as good as the Honda Fit, and has a terrible dual-clutch transmission that everyone hates. No surprise it didn’t last.

    Subcompact cars are one of those segments where there is no longer room for mediocre entries. The overall market just isn’t big enough to support them.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Having driven them back to back the Fiesta is much better than the Fit to drive.

      It’s not as practical or able to convert into a “lounge”, though.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    The Fiesta’s kiss of death was that dual-clutch transmission (ditto the Focus). People in Europe still buy manuals, so that wasn’t such a liability there.

    Being sedans and hatchbacks in an era where folks are shunning both doesn’t help matters, but between the dual-clutch transmission and My Ford Touch being utter s***, Ford took two otherwise excellent designs and f***ed their first time buyers over hard.

    Wisely, Ford opted out of the dual-clutch for their other vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The late 2000s were a Golden Age of “but it’s *SUPPOSED* to be that terrible” automatic transmissions.

      Then FCA kept the sh*tty spirit alive with the M40 in the Promaster and the C635 DDCT in the compacts.

  • avatar
    jfb43

    Remember when gas was expensive and used Geo Metros were all the rage? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Small cars will, once again, be en vogue, and manufacturers will be behind the curve. It wouldn’t be so bad if these ghastly crossovers were hybridized, but nope (at least Ford is finally bringing back the Escape Hybrid).

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    All we would need–God forbid–is another gas crisis, and Antonella would be back in America. Only, with no decent Fiesta or Focus alternative, she’d be forced into a Honda Fit or Civic, a Toyota Corolla, a Nissan Versa or a Mazda 3. (Or maybe a Cruze.) Ford needs to do something about its myopia.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      How high does it have to go. While 4 bucks a gallon did certainly make some buyers stop and think, it certainly didn’t radically shift the automotive landscape. Most people still purchased what they would have purchased anyway and simply complained at the pump. Additionally the whole fracking bit has sort of put a cap on how much those sort of market manipulation by the OPEC nations can drive up the price. Sure there will be spikes from time to time as is happening due to refinery shutdown in Texas and there will always be something happening in the middle east (though again, Domestic Fracking helps to hedge against this), but at least for the foreseeable future the days of OPEC dictating to the world how much they will pay for oil are over.

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