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Ford Fiesta Lands Big Endorsement

But the big test comes with the 2010 launch of the American Fiesta.

by on Jan.22, 2009

Ford Fiesta at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Ford Fiesta at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Ford’s global small car, the Fiesta, is claiming another in a stream of awards, the little hatchback being named Car-of-the-Year by What Car? magazine, the British counterpart to America’s Consumer Reports.

Fiesta has already won similar accolades, around Europe, and, “this ultimate endorsement by What Car? will drive the new Fiesta to even greater success this year,” proclaimed Ford of Europe CEO John Fleming.

To be more precise, the Brits paid homage to a version of the B-Class hatchback equipped with a miniscule 1.25 liter engine, significantly smaller than we’ll see in the States, when a version like the one shown here finally, belatedly arrives for the 2010 model-year. But the continuing flood of awards is certainly a good sign.

Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas, says he will be extremely disappointed if Fiesta doesn’t land on the podium of that most prestigious of American award, the North American Car of the Year. (Full disclosure: I am one of the 50 NACOTY judges.)

Indeed, Fields acknowledged, during an interview at the Detroit Auto Show, winning NACOTY is “critical.” As important as it was for Ford to capture a first place in the North American Truck of the Year, with its F-150, the automaker desperately needs to prove it is setting in motion a comeback on the car side of the business. Fiesta is one of several new products that could give Ford a much-needed boost, along with the bigger Focus, which is about to go through a redesign, and the reborn Taurus, which was generally hailed as one of the hits at the 2009 Detroit show.