Ford Subcompacts in the US; a Timeline

There is only one way to characterize Fords subcompact efforts in the US: Consistently Inconsistent. Let’s dive in:


1978-1980 Ford Fiesta: Ford’s first foray into the subcompact class was the European developed Ford Fiesta, first introduced in 1976. The US version was built in West Germany, but received market specific features such as sealed-beam headlights, larger bumpers, a catalytic converter, and optional AC. The 1.6L engine was standard. The Fiesta was discontinued after 1980, with the all new Escort taking its place.

1988-1993 Ford Festiva: The Festiva was initially developed by Mazda at the request of Ford. It went on sale in Japan as the Ford Festiva around 1986. About that time, KIA began to produce the Festiva under license as the KIA Pride for the South Korean market. The Festiva was introduced to the US for the 1988 model year, built by KIA in South Korea. Throughout the run, only the 3 door version was sold in the US.


1994-1997 Ford Aspire: The Aspire was co-developed by Ford and KIA. While still using many Mazda components, including the drivetrain, the body was extensively restyled with a more aerodynamic approach. This also marked the first time that Ford sold a subcompact in the US with more than 3 doors. Ford and KIA split ways after the Aspire, with KIA introducing the independently designed RIO in 1999. Ford wouldn’t reintroduce a subcompact model for 13 years after the discontinuation of the Aspire in the US.


2011-2019 Ford Fiesta: The Fiesta made a return to the US for the 2011 model year, remaining fairly true to the European Fiesta it was based on. Both a 5 door hatchback and a 4 door sedan were available, as well as two turbocharged engine options (SFE & ST, both later one in the run). The Fiesta is once again set to be discontinued after the 2019 model year, with no future plans for another subcompact car. The Ford Ecosport subcompact SUV can be seen as a successor.

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