Ford has expanded its Fiesta lineup for 2014, and given its entry-level car a nose job. The Fiesta now sports the open “Aston Martin” grille, like many of its siblings. The new styling gives the Fiesta a feisty look, more in keeping with the sporty personality of the brand.
More significantly, Ford has added a new model, and another engine option. The new motor is an EcoBoost (turbocharged) 1.0-liter, three-cylinder mill. It generates 123 horsepower, and is EPA certified at 32-mpg in city driving; 45-mpg on the highway and 37 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. It comes with just a five-speed manual transmission, and it will cost buyers about $1000 more than a comparable four-cylinder Fiesta.
For those who value performance over fuel economy, Ford offers an “ST” version of the Fiesta hatchback. (Other versions of the Fiesta are also available as four-door sedans.) The ST is a pocket rocket with a turbocharged version of its standard 1.6-liter, four-cylinder motor. It generates a hefty 197 horses, and 214 lb.-ft of torque. Teamed with a six-speed manual gearbox (no automatic offered), it will zip up to sixty in just seven seconds. At the same time, it should deliver 29 mpg.
Besides the gutsy engine, the ST comes with all the right stuff to handle nimbly out on the road. It gets a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels with performance tires, quicker steering and upgraded brakes. For less than $22,000, you have a Fiesta street racer.
However, most buyers will choose a less aggressive, and less expensive version of the Fiesta with the non-turbo four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 120 hp. It’s available with a standard five-speed manual gearbox, or an optional six-speed automated manual transmission. This auto-manual shifts like a traditional automatic, but is more efficient. Fuel economy with this combo is an impressive 33-mpg.
Ford offers the Fiesta in three levels of trim, S, SE and Titanium, in addition to the aforementioned ST. The base S comes with power locks/mirrors, AC, and a six-speaker sound system. The more popular SE adds power windows, cruise control, and upgraded interior trim. SE buyers can also add options, like MyFordTouch interface and a Super Fuel Economy package to squeeze out a little better gas mileage. The Titanium is for buyers who are downsizing, but don’t want of give up their luxuries. It adds features like a rearview camera, leather seats and upgraded audio.
The Fiesta provides a lot of cabin space in its sub-compact body. Tall passengers have good head-and legroom up front. The rear seat is good for kids. The trunk/hatch provides over 12-cu.-ft. of cargo space, and rear seats fold down to increase capacity. However, the hatchback version is the better choice for stowing large boxes and odd-shaped items.
Gauges in front of the driver are backlit and easy to read, but the MyFordTouch screen, mounted in the center dash, has small lettering and is not so easy to operate while driving. As an alternative, I used Ford’s Sync voice command system to change radio stations when I needed to.
Behind the wheel of my Titaniun test car, the controls felt light. The steering required little effort, and had go-cart-like quickness. The clutch felt light, and the manual shifter slid easily from gear to gear, but the transmission emitted an intermittent whine. The 1.6-liter, 120-hp, non-turbo engine was no powerhouse, but pulled well above 3000 rpm.
The Fiesta’s handling was surprisingly good with just the standard suspension setup. It delivered very little body-lean while cornering, and in fact, it was entertaining to drive on twisty roads. The ride quality was reasonably compliant on bumpy pavement, and smooth on freeways, although the cabin was a bit noisy at speed.
The Ford Fiesta is one of the least expensive new cars in the market. The S sedan starts at just $14,795. The SE begins a modest at $16,845, and the Titanium comes in just shy of $19,000. The ST tops the chart at $21,995, which may seem like a lot, but is actually a bargain for a mini hotrod.
Fun To Drive