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The Fiesta will compete in the "B" class segment, between the Focus and the Smart. The Fiesta's direct competitors will be the Chevy Aveo, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Scion xD, Nissan Versa, MINI, and VW Rabbit, although the Rabbit and Versa are a little larger than the others. While the Smart is an "A" class two seater, it's not-so-low price, and the fact that it requires premium fuel (how dumb is that?) may prompt some Smart intenders to cross shop the four and five passenger B cars mentioned above.
Those with good memories will remember that there were two predecessors to the next Fiesta sold in the U.S., the '78-'80 Fiesta, and the Mazda designed, Kia built Festiva ('88-'93) and the slightly larger, more rounded Festiva derived Aspire ('94-97).
Although I've never owned a Fiesta, Festiva, or Aspire, here's what I know from being interested in these cars...
The made-in-Germany (I believe) Fiesta was Ford's answer to the original VW Rabbit. It was a decent, fun-to-drive, peppy car, but it was somewhat overpriced compared to what else was available at the time. One downside, for an economy car, is that although the Fiesta delivered good MPG numbers, it required premium fuel.
I understand that the Festiva, especially, was a tough little car, with many high mileage examples ( >200,000 miles, and even >300,000 miles on the original engine) to its credit. I occasionally still see one on the road, and the examples I've seen are in surprisingly decent shape for what, for many, would be a trow-away car. I've spoken to a few owners and they support the idea that, with proper care, these cars can last and last.
The successor to the Festiva, the Aspire, didn't fare as well as the Festiva. Many Aspires were sold to rental car agencies, and were equipped with 3-speed automatics, so that may account for much of the difference between the reputation of the Festiva versus the Aspire.
Do any of you readers who've owned or driven the Fiesta, Festiva or Aspire care to comment?