First Drive

2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost

Three-cylinder engine can show its heels to the four-cylinder competition

2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost - front 3/4 view far

SANTA MONICA, CA – “She’s a peppy little puppy!” Those were my first thoughts after a few blocks and a run through the five-speed manual transmission in the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost. 

That initial impression put to rest worries about Ford choosing a three-cylinder engine as an option for its smallest car. Previous experience with three-cylinder engines in small Suzukis (Swift) and Chevrolets (Metro) had not exactly left positive impressions.

Times have changed and Ford engineers have endowed this mighty mite with a raft of technologies including dual variable valve timing, direct injection and a twin scroll turbocharger bolted directly to the outlet ports. 

As a result, this diminutive engine can hold its head high and show its heels to the four-cylinder competition. I agree with my fellow jurists who collectively voted it the International Engine of the Year!

Impressive torque

Despite having only three cylinders, each the size of a soft drink can, the 1.0 EcoBoost powerplant belts out a stout 123 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. On a specific output scale that is equivalent to extracting 246 horsepower and 296 lb-ft from a 2.0-litre engine or 615 horses and 740 lb-ft from one of its 5.0-litre V-8s!

As is usually the case when talking about an engine to be used on the street under part throttle and low rev conditions it is the torque that impresses. 

The turbo and direct injection allows the new little engine to deliver maximum thrust as early as 2500 rpm.

The use of a five-speed manual gearbox may seem dated but it proved more than adequate when driving aggressively through the tortuous twists and turns of the Mulholland Highway up and over the Santa Monica mountain range. 

There is a wide gap between second and third gears but the ability to get maximum power at such low revs meant you could leave the transmission in third and power out of turns at 2000 rpm, pulling without fuss. 

The same engine is used in the larger Focus and a number of other Ford products in Europe. It will be available here with the five-speed manual only, initially. 

Just as impressive as the punch the engine delivers is the manner in which it does so. Using all the tools at their disposal, Ford's engineers paid particular attention to reducing friction and NVH, all but eliminating the vibration inherent in and the strange sounds emanating from a three-cylinder engine. 

European road manners

Our driving route through the mountains showcased not only the new engine, but also the prowess of the Fiesta's chassis and suspension, which were developed in Europe. 

Mid-way through the day we were given the opportunity to thrash the Fiesta 1.0 in a head-to-head dynamic comparison against competitors that included the Chevy Sonic, Honda Fit, Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris, on a road course and drag strip. 

The little Ford's steering and handling proved just as impressive as its engine, but the real eye-opener was the torque-vectoring differential developed and used in Europe to reduce torque steer. It will be standard equipment on all 2014 Fiestas sold in North America.

The standard engine in the 2014 Fiesta will be the same 120-horsepower, 1.6-litre four used in the current model. Joining the lineup in later in the year will be the hot rod of the crowd, a 2.0-litre, 197-horsepower turbocharged ST model with appropriate suspension, brake and interior upgrades.  

Visual and equipment updates

To better showcase the newly available 1.0-litre engine, Ford has given the 2014 Fiesta a raft of visual and equipment updates. The redesigned face gets the new Ford corporate front end introduced on the 2013 Fusion and tracing its roots to the gorgeous Aston Martin. 

There have been some changes to the switchgear to improve ergonomics and the latest version of SYNC with MyTouch will be available with improved voice recognition and navigation. 

Another feature new to Fiesta will be Ford’s MyKey system which allows the owner to configure maximum speed and audio volumes, ensure that the audio system is muted until all seatbelts are fastened and that driver aids, such as traction and stability control systems cannot be disabled. 

The 2014 Fiesta plays a key role in helping Ford get its corporate average fuel economy numbers down to meet the progressively stricter new standards going into effect through 2016. It will continue to be available in five-door hatchback and four-door sedan guises.

Ford execs were tight lipped about pricing this far in advance of the new Fiesta’s appearance – look for it late this spring, but they are well aware the Fiesta 1.0 has to be attractively priced to earn a following and play its role in making small cars more attractive to consumers on this continent. 


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