Designed by Mazda using the DA platform and B series inline-four engines, the Festiva continued the trend of Fords built and designed by Mazda for the Asia-Pacific market such as the Laser and Telstar. It is not to be confused with the Ford Fiesta sold in Europe and North America.
South Korean first generation sales began in 1986 under the name Kia Pride, assembled by Kia under license. Australasia and Europe received the first version between 1987 and 1991 as the "Mazda 121". After 1991, Australasian sales occurred under the "Ford Festiva" name, while European sales continued under the name "Kia Pride". Kia ended production of the Pride in 2000, although SAIPA of Iran has produced this model in various forms since 2001. This ongoing production has been in parallel to the second generation Festiva introduced in 1993, sold as the Ford Aspire in North America and Kia Avella in South Korea and other markets. Although these second generations models were withdrawn in 2000, a third generation was sold between 1996 and 2002 in Japan as a badge-engineered version of the Mazda Demio.
First generation (WA; 1986–1993)
The first generation Ford Festiva was designed by Mazda in Japan at the request of parent company Ford. The Mazda-designed and built three-door hatchback was launched in Japan in 1986 under the name "Ford Festiva". Festiva utilized the front-wheel drive layout, and its mechanicals consisted of rack and pinion steering, independent front suspension with struts, coil springs and sway bar, and a torsion beam rear suspension. The Festiva was facelifted in 1989, receiving a redesigned grille insert and tail lamp lenses. In Japan at launch, the Festiva three-door was offered in L, L Special, S, Ghia, and Canvas Top specification levels. Ford retailed the Japanese market Festiva via the Autorama dealership network.
In mid-1986, another Ford partner, Kia Motors in South Korea began production of the Festiva under license as the "Kia Pride". Starting from mid-1987 for the 1988 model year, Kia began exports to Canada under the "Ford Festiva" name, with United States sales commencing by the end of 1987. Ford offered a single 1.3-liter B3 four-cylinder engine and three trim levels: L, L Plus, and LX. The two base models featured a four-speed manual overdrive transmission, with the LX upgraded to a five-speed unit. A tachometer and tilt steering wheel also featured on the LX trim, as did alloy wheels, remote mirrors, cloth interior seating, and an AM/FM cassette radio. Ford released a minor facelift in North America for the 1990 model year. At the same time, the engine's fuel delivery system transitioned from carburetor to fuel injection, and transmission choices were revised with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional three-speed automatic. Ford also replaced the manual front seat belts with motorized versions, and fitted manual rear seat belts as standard. For the 1991 model year, the L Plus and LX models were combined into a single GL trim. Optional power steering was deleted for 1992, and the GL gained alloy wheels and the availability of a "sport" package. The final 1993 model year brought no changes. Over the life of the Festiva in the United States, Kia exported roughly 350,000 units. The agreement with Ford materialized in accordance with Kia's strategy implemented in the mid-1980s to progressively fill the void at the low-cost end of the market slowly being abdicated by the Japanese brands pursuing more expensive models with higher profit margins. Compared to rival automakers in Japan, and also Europe and North America, Kia's main competitive advantage was its lower-paid South Korean workforce—which translated into lower-priced cars.
Mazda began producing the Festiva as the "Mazda 121" for Australasia and Europe in 1987, but this model was never retailed in Japan. The 121 ended production in 1990, and was officially discontinued by Mazda Australia in February 1991. From October 1991, Ford Australia began importing the car as the "Ford Festiva" from Kia's South Korean production facility. Where the Mazda was sold as a three-door hatchback, the Ford was sold initially as a five-door only. From January 1993, a Festiva three-door, badged "Festiva Trio" was launched in Australia. Both versions were powered by the overhead camshaft carbureted 1.3-liter B3 engine with the five-speed manual transmission; a three-speed automatic was optional for the five-door. Standard equipment in Australia included an AM/FM radio, tachometer, intermittent windscreen wipers, remote releases for the rear door and fuel tank filler door, with air-conditioning available as an option. Ford discontinued the Festiva in the Australian market in March 1994.
Ford Australia's action was paralleled in Europe where Kia started exporting three- and five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and five-door wagon variants of the Kia Pride in 1991. These additional sedan and five-door hatchback body variants were also imported from South Korea in left-hand drive and sold in Japan (officially a right-hand drive market) as the "Ford Festiva 5" and "Festiva β", respectively.
The 2008 edition of Monash University's Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR), found that the first generation Festiva provides a "worse than average" (two out of five stars) level of safety in the event of an accident, in a comparison to other "light cars". The safety rating was not calculated solely on the basis of the protection of the vehicle's occupants, with protection for "cyclists, pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles" included to give a "better guide to the total community impact of vehicle safety."
Mazda began selling the 121 as a single three-door hatchback body variant in 1987 to sit below the larger 323 model. Despite being manufactured there, the 121 was not sold in Japan under the "Mazda" brand. Australian specification 121s were fitted with the 1.3-liter B3 engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. European markets also received the 55 PS (40 kW) 1.1-liter B1 engine with a four-speed manual transmission.
The 121 was sold in Australia from March 1987. It featured a sliding rear bench seat, which increased cargo space by as much as 180 millimeters (7.1 in). Levels of trim in Australia comprised the base-line Deluxe, the Super Deluxe, and the Fun Top (based on the Super Deluxe), featuring a large electric sliding canvas sunroof. From October 1988, the Super Deluxe was discontinued and replaced by the Shades trim. The European premiere for the 121 was at the Geneva Auto Salon in March 1988. The 1.1-liter version was added in July 1989. Trim levels were L and LX, with an SR version also available in the UK.
Mazda issued an update for the 121 (released in October 1989 for the Australian market) with a new grille insert, body-hued exterior trim, redesigned instrumentation and interior seats and trim. The Mazda variant was discontinued in 1991, being replaced by a new generation Mazda 121, based on the Japanese market Autozam Revue.
The "Kia Pride"-badged version of the Festiva was manufactured in South Korea by Kia Motors from 1986 to 2000. The Pride was sold in four-door sedan form (in LX, GTX, and β trim levels), as well as three- and five-door hatchback forms (the CD-5) and five-door wagon body styles. The Pride was replaced in 2000 by the Rio.
The Pride launched in the United Kingdom in June 1991, fitted with both the 1.1- B1 and 1.3-liter B3 engines. The 1.1 was only available as a three-door in the basic L trim (Whitewall tires were a common place feature on them). Fuel injection appeared on the 1.3-liter-engined models in November 1994, referred to as the "1.3i". At this time, the 1.1-liter version was deleted. December 1995 saw the Start 1.3i three-door replace the L, but from June 1999, the entry-level three-door was again renamed S with the higher-level three- and five-doors known as the SX. Production ended during 2000.
SAIPA built the Kia Pride in Iran under license using up to 85 percent local parts as the "SAIPA Pride" from 2001 to 2005. Since 2003, a new five-door liftback model based on the Pride called the "SAIPA 141 has been produced, while continuing to sell the Iranian version of the Pride under the names "SAIPA Saba GLXi" (four-door sedan), "SAIPA Nasim Safari" (five-door wagon) and "SAIPA Nasim DMi" (five-door hatchback). Compared to the these versions, the SAIPA 141 features revised rear styling and interior design. SAIPA 141 is sold in Venezuela under name "Turpial". Another variant, known as the "SAIPA 132" began production in 2008 and differs from the Saba with its revised front and rear styling. Although never mass-produced, the company introduced a pickup body style in 2008 under the name "SAIPA Pick-Up", with a 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) payload. The platform/engine of the Kia Pride also formed the basis for the Iranian P.K (2000 to 2005) and New P.K (2005 to 2007) models, which utilize Renault 5 bodies. In Iran, Prides continue to be the most common car with approximately 40 percent on vehicles in that country being a Pride-derived SAIPA.
Arab American Vehicles (AAV) manufactured the Pride in Cairo, Egypt, circa 1998. Jiangsu Yueda Auto Works (later Yueda Kia Motors, currently Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motors) began assembly of the Pride in 1997. The sedan was called the Yueda Kia Pride YQZ6390, the hatchback either YQZ6370 or YQZ7141. Chinese production ended in December 2003.