In another sign of good things to come from Ford later this year, the company's new Fiesta has just won a Car of the Year award from What Car? magazine in the UK. Specifically, the Fiesta 1.25i Zetec was selected by the publication's editors. They praised the looks, handling and efficiency of the new B-segment entry that's now available in Europe and has just started production in China. At the end of 2009, Ford will start production at a plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico that is being converted from production of F-Series trucks.

Fortunately, Ford has seen the light and will offer both hatchback and sedan variants of the Fiesta in North America. The U.S. market is expected to initially get the car with a 1.6-liter normally aspirated four-cylinder and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. We can't wait to try it out for ourselves and pit the Fiesta against the Honda Fit and its other segment-mates. Check out a high-res gallery of the Fiesta below and then click on the jump to read the official press release.

Related Gallery2009 Ford Fiesta

[Source: Ford]


PRESS RELEASE:

FIESTA NAMED "CAR OF THE YEAR" BY WHAT CAR?, BRITAIN'S LEADING SOURCE OF NEW-CAR ADVICE

What Car? editors praise Fiesta as "the most complete small car we've ever tested."

Award marks another accolade for new Ford Fiesta, the first in a series of fuel-efficient small cars being developed by Ford

BRENTWOOD, UK, Jan. 22, 2009 – What Car? magazine, Great Britain's leading source of new-car advice, has named the new Ford Fiesta 1.25i Zetec its Car of the Year 2009, adding to the growing list of accolades for the new small car that Ford is introducing around the world.

What Car? editors praised the Fiesta for its stylish design, performance and fuel economy. "The Fiesta is the most complete small car we've ever tested – it's practical enough to be used as a family car, fun enough to be used as a sports car and stylish enough to make the right impression. It's also affordable to buy, cheap to run and kind to the planet," said Steve Fowler, editor of What Car?.

Introduced in Europe last fall, the Fiesta is off to a strong sales start in the traditional 19 European markets, where sales topped 61,000 units after slightly more than two months on the market. As soon as the Fiesta went on sale in the UK, it became the best-selling car for both November and December.

Designed and developed in Europe for sale across Ford's global markets, the new Fiesta is the first in a series of new, fuel efficient, small cars developed through Ford's global product development process. Its stylish and dynamic flair combines with all the traditional Ford small car strengths to create a confident, contemporary introduction to the next chapter of the Fiesta story.

Within five years, Ford expects to build about one million vehicles worldwide off of the new global B-car platform, the basis for the new Fiesta.

The Fiesta began production at Ford's Cologne Assembly Plant in Germany last year. Earlier this week, Ford's plant in Valencia, Spain, also began producing the car.

Ford launched Asian production of the Fiesta last week at the state-of-the-art Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Company manufacturing facility in Nanjing, China. The Nanjing plant is making the five-door hatchback and four-door sedan versions of the new global Fiesta for the Chinese market and the vehicles will go on sale later in the first quarter.

Ford's plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico, will build the new Fiesta for the United States and other North American markets. Construction of the integrated stamping facility and retooling of the assembly plant is underway.

In North America, the new small car will be offered in two models: a sporty hatchback and a sedan, beginning in early in 2010.

In accepting the What Car? award, John Fleming, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, said the magazine's recognition is a sign of more Fiesta success to come. "This is tremendous news for the whole Ford team – the great British public has already made the new Fiesta the UK's best-selling car in the closing months of last year, and this ultimate endorsement by What Car? will drive the new Fiesta to even greater success this year."

What Car? judges also named the Fiesta as the top car in the "supermini" catetory. They praised the new Fiesta inside and out, stating that no other supermini got close to its 'look at me' factor. The delicate curves and sharp edges made it the epitome of the stylish modern supermini.' They also commended the "zingy 1.25-litre engine, nimble handling and strong grip to make it a 'brilliant winner'........"

Adding to the success of Fiesta, the Ford Mondeo won Best Family Car and Best Estate for 2009.

The What Car? Car of the Year 2009 awards are covered in the magazine's February edition, available now. What Car? magazine has helped Britain's car buyers make purchasing decisions for more than 30 years. What Car? also publishes a price guide and operates whatcar.com, the UK's biggest car-buying advice website.