By on May 16, 2022

We return to our coverage of Kia sedans today and discuss a midsize from just prior to the flagship Enterprise we discussed last time. Kia offered the first midsize car to bear its branding in 1987 when it introduced the new Concord. Concord was essentially a broughamed, front-rear clip swap take on the GC platform Mazda 626. Mazda discontinued the GC 626 that year and immediately sold the platform and tooling to Kia. A couple of years later, the Concord spawned a lesser sibling called the Capital. Capital looked very similar to the Concord but sold to a more economically-minded customer with its much lower level of equipment and low-powered engines.

When the Capital finished up its run in 1997, it was replaced by a compact car Kia had on sale for a few years already: The Sephia. Sephia wouldn’t do for Concord-level customers though, and upon the sedan’s discontinuation in 1995 they were directed to an all-new Kia. The company was ready with its new midsize to bookend the Concord, and it went on sale the same year. Though the new car was again on a donated platform, it was the first time Kia had some leeway to design a midsize of their own. It’s time to discuss Credos.

(Read More…)

By on May 12, 2022

We return to our Rare Rides Icons coverage of the Ford Festiva today. An important world vehicle for the likes of Ford, Mazda, Kia (and eventually many others), the Festiva arrived at a time when rear-drive subcompacts were being replaced by much more efficient models that were front-drive. And the Mazda-designed Festiva was certainly more efficient and more front-drive than the Fiesta it replaced.

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By on May 11, 2022

We’ve reached the end of the Nineties in Kia’s midsize-or-more sedan story. It was a time of modernization across Kia’s portfolio, and 1998 and 1999 were years of expansion in particular: Kia introduced an impressive nine all-new models across those two years.

For its larger sedan lineup, the dated Potentia (a rework of the Eighties Mazda Luce) continued on in its popularity in the South Korean market. Potentia was updated from its original 1992 looks for 1998.  However, that same year Kia introduced a new large luxury sedan to its lineup. The company once again relied on friendly product partner Mazda. Let’s talk about Enterprise.

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By on April 29, 2022

We embark on the important and global tale of a subcompact hatchback today. Your author referenced it last week in Part I of our Kia large cars series, and now it’s time for the promised comprehensive Rare Rides coverage! Manufactured in various places around the world, our subject vehicle lived a long life and had no fewer than 10 identities over its impressive 17-year span. We’re going to party, karamu, Festiva, forever.

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By on April 28, 2022

We pick Kia’s large-car story once more today, at a point when the Korean manufacturer was in the midst of establishing itself as a proper full-line automaker, albeit with contributions from various other automotive firms. After Kia built Fiats and Peugeots via knock-down kits, it moved on to a light rework of the early Eighties Mazda 626. It made two cars out of the 626, its first midsize offerings. They were the upscale Concord and lesser (but still sort of upscale looking) Capital. But before we move on to the company’s first truly full-size car, we need to talk about the Mercury Sable for a moment.

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By on April 22, 2022

I got to thinking about one particular big old Kia from the late Nineties the other day, and upon searching it on The Internet, I realized the Korean manufacturer had a much longer history with large cars than I’d thought previously. Given most of them were (or are) off-limits to the North American market, it might be time for a history lesson. We begin today with Kia’s first large car. It’s one you’ve probably heard of, because it was a Peugeot.

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By on February 18, 2021

Ford CEO Jim Farley announced his fondness for the Puma ST at the start of the week, going so far as to state that he wished the crossover was available in North America and other markets. This resulted in a steady stream of outlets suggesting that he’s totally forgotten his role within the company. As head of the brand, Farley would indeed have meaningful influence in regard to Ford’s distribution choices.

But he probably already knows that and we’re wondering if his social media musings about the rowdy little Puma — which borrows the Fiesta ST engine — were more about testing the waters on a global market push. While we don’t want to rule out the possibility of Farley kissing a photo of the crossover on his nightstand every night as he wonders how to spread its glory, something tells us there may be alternative scenarios.  (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2019

Ford has executed an on-then-off strategy with regard to its Fiesta offering in the North American market. Currently in off mode, your local Ford dealer encourages you to look at the sporty and capable first-ever third-world offering EcoSport instead.

But today we’re stepping back in time to 1978 to take a look at the genesis of Fiesta. The Fiestasis, if you will.

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By on August 14, 2019

It’s August 2019 and your author is pouring one out for little Blue Oval hatchbacks with mouths to match their trousers. Soon to depart from our shores (North American-market production has already ceased), the Focus and Fiesta represented bite-sized bits of fun that weren’t overly expensive and looked a bit derivative. Alas. At least we still have Honda, and it must be noted that Hyundai is stepping up its game in this segment.

For now, one can configure a 2019 Fiesta ST even if it is getting difficult to find them on dealer lots. Today’s post assumes the ST trim is a base car, insofar as we will be adding $0 in options to the sticker price.

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By on July 19, 2019

Following a scathing analysis from the Detroit Free Press regarding Ford’s handling of their dual-clutch transmission troubles in the Focus and Fiesta, the company has apparently ordered dealerships to fix all affected cars for free, regardless of warranty status.

Automotive News is reporting that the company sent a memo out to dealerships instructing them to fix transmissions if the customer is having issues:

In the July 12 memo, Ford says dealerships should “arrange to diagnose the vehicle and repair as necessary.” The fixes can be applied to 2011-17 models, many of which are out of warranty.

Dealerships were also told to expect another update later today.

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By on May 9, 2019

A class-action lawsuit filed against Ford Motor company in 2017 is close to bearing fruit for nearly two million current or former owners, but Ford could find itself on the hook for far more than the $35 million reached in an earlier settlement.

The automaker is awaiting the results of an appeal by nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, which felt the 1.9 million Ford Focus and Fiesta buyers whose lives were disrupted by wonky PowerShift transmissions would only end up getting shafted, once again. (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2019

To our collective horror, Ford decided not to sell the new Fiesta ST in North America. Instead, the automaker chose to cull its passenger car lineup during a period of declining demand and profitability in order to focus on higher-margin trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. No one in this office is particularly excited about the idea, but most of us could rationalize our hurt by trying to see things from Ford’s perspective and focusing on the bottom line. However, Ford is just rubbing salt into our wound at this point.

While the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST has abandoned its turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger for a more Euro-friendly 1.5-liter triple boasting the same 197 horsepower and more torque, the United Kingdom also receives a limited-run Performance Edition that would have made a nifty little runabout/track day hooligan. Sure, it probably wouldn’t have been a hit here. But we would at least like to have the opportunity not to buy it.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

2017 Nissan Versa Note - Image: NissanAmerica’s demand for subcompact cars tumbled 26 percent in 2018, yet another result that points to the eventual demise of all but a few B-segment cars.

2018’s sharp drop – equal to roughly 94,000 fewer sales in the core eight-car subcompact category – follows an equally harsh decline in 2017, when the segment lost more than 95,000 units. Led by a sharp reduction in sales of the top-selling Nissan Versa and year-over-year percentage declines of more than 29 per cent for the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Prius C, and Toyota Yaris, the category’s volume has fallen 48 percent since 2014.

And before you say, “Well, cars are all unpopular these days,” keep 2018’s five million-plus car buyers in mind. Car buyers do, in fact, still exist.

But subcompact car buyers are disappearing much, much faster than car buyers at large. And it may well be because the product execution of subcompact cars is really rather poor.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

One of the advantages when getting rid of (or leaving) something is the propensity to use up supplies on your way out the door. Moving out tomorrow? Better drink all that beer in the fridge. Trading the car in this afternoon? Let’s drive around to burn off the remaining fuel we put in the tank last week.

It would seem the Blue Oval subscribes to this theory as well. With all of its cars headed to the glue factory, some base models have actually gained features while keeping their sticker price steady.

Case in point? The Fiesta S, now with air conditioning.

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By on July 12, 2018

While European customers can look forward to many more years of new Ford Fiestas, the same can’t be said of American buyers. Ford’s smallest domestic passenger car ceases production next summer, but there’s still time to have fun before our future gives way to sport crossovers.

For 2019, the scrappy Fiesta ST hot hatch continues unaltered, while customers gain a new Fiesta trim offering plenty of flash and probably no extra dash. (Read More…)

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