Small car + tiny engine = big deal
The main reason, if not the only reason, why people buy sub-compact cars is fuel economy.
But now, the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE EcoBoost?the most fuel efficient non-hybrid on the market?makes it possible to have outstanding fuel economy and sparkling performance for around $18,000.
It is, of course, due to EcoBoost technology, which Ford is expanding throughout its vehicles from small cars like the Fiesta and Focus up to full-size F-Series pickups. Ford says the plan is to offer EcoBoost in 80 per cent of its vehicles by the end of this year.
It combines direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, turbocharging and Ford-created software that results in engines with 20 per cent better fuel economy but with power similar to larger displacement engines.
Currently EcoBoost is available in the 1.5-, 1.6-, 2.0, 3.5- and 1.0-litre formats.
The 1.0-litre in the SE EcoBoost is a three-cylinder with 123 hp and 125 lb/ft of torque with 145 lb/ft available for short bursts of up to 15 seconds with an overboost function.
Fuel numbers are 6.2/4.3/5.3L/100 km city/highway/combined under the current two-mode Canadian testing system. These numbers could be slightly higher next year when Canada harmonizes with the U.S. EPA five-mode testing cycle.
Ford claims the 1.0-litre Fiesta SE EcoBoost has the best mileage of any non-hybrid on Canadian roads.
There are three main Fiesta trim levels available in both sedan and five-door hatch starting with the base S, the mid-trim SE and the full load Titanium. All Fiestas come with a 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder with 120 hp and 112 lb/ft of torque pushing the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic.
There is a fourth model called the ST with an EcoBoost version of the 1.6-litre with six-speed manual only pumping out 197 hp and 202 lb/ft of torque.
The 1.0-litre version starts out as a SE at $16,675 for the Sedan or Hatch. For $1,295, the SE Manual EcoBoost Package deletes the 1.6-litre and plunks in the three-cylinder and also includes a big rear spoiler, lower grilled blockers and low rolling resistance tires ? all to lessen fuel consumption.
The 1.0-litre is only available with a five-speed manual. At the press introduction, Ford Canada officials dodged questions as to why there is no automatic with the dreaded ?we don?t talk about future product? line.
You know there is some kind of automatic planned but it could be, as I suspect, a CVT to get even lower gas numbers. Or, it could be the six-speed auto used in the other Fiestas is being re-engineered to not only fit in the engine bay space available but with AWD, which would really hit the mark with buyers around the world especially here in Canada after the winter we have had.
I still can?t get my head around how a three-cylinder engine with its inherent internal vibration can function as a four-stroke but it does and amazingly quietly too.
Ford uses a super stiff block, insulated injectors and even timing belts running in oil (believe it or not) that result in what Ford claims is one of quietest powerplants it makes.
This was true at flow-of-traffic speeds on the highway and that included the hum that comes with low resistance tires.
On the highway in fifth, the tach showed 2,500 rpm at 115 km/h. With the redline at 7,200 rpm, there was still a lot of revs left to go.
I did feel having six speeds with the bottom four for in-town and the top two for cruising would be better.
The turbo spools up quickly, delivering usable torque as low as 1,350 rpm which means there?s plenty of traction.
On Bell School Line south of Milton that snakes down the face of the Niagara Escarpment, the roarty little engine with its almost instant on tap torque worked surprisingly well with the five-speed helped by quick, measured throws thanks to the shifter?s spring loading that sends the lever to the desired slot without having to think about it.
The suspension is a MacStrut setup at the front with a twist-beam rear. Disc brakes are used at front with rear drums.
Front seating was good with most sight lines acceptable due to the outside mirrors being mounted wide from the A-pillar giving a wider sweep to the rear and cutting down the blind spot which is always an issue with a hatchback (as tested).
Ford MyKey is a new Fiesta feature that allows parents to limit teens to road risks by making it possible to curb speed and audio volume. It also mutes the decibel level until all seatbelts are fastened while ensuring safety aids like traction control can?t be shut off.
When it comes to safety the SE EcoBoost is fully equipped with Ford?s version of electronic stability control and airbags at the front with side curtains and a driver?s knee airbag. Worth noting is Ford?s SOS Post-Crash Alert System.
Cargo volume on the sedan is 362 litres (12.8 cu ft) and 422 litres (14.9 cu ft) on the hatchback.
Lastly, I have to talk about style and what my old friend Moray Callum, and now chief North American designer for Ford, has done with the entire passenger car line.
The now signature downward trapezoid grille with wide-mouth grimace has really caught on and looks great on the Fiesta, which was rather drab in its previous generation.
The grille, with embedded head lights, flows back almost to the A-pillar where a character line takes over and draws the eye up and back, making the Fiesta look longer than it is at just a hair over four meters (4,056 mm, 159.7 in) for the Hatchback as tested.
It results in a sub-compact that looks like it is fun to drive not just a here-to-there plodder.
Combine that with Ford?s potent little three-banger and the result is a very attractive package to the eye, heart, and wallet.
Ford Fiesta SE EcoBoost 2014 at a glance
BODY STYLE: Sub-compact Sedan or Hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: front engine, four-wheel drive
ENGINE: 1.0-litre turbo direct injection EcoBoost three- cylinder engine (123 hp, 125 lb/ft, 145 lb/ft with overboost)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular, premium recommended) 6.2/4.3/5/3L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO CAPACITY: Sedan, 362 litres (12.8 cu ft), Hatchback, 422 litres (15.9 cu ft)
PRICE: Base SE $16,675; $17,970 as tested with SE Manual EcoBoost Package ($1,295) not including $1,565 shipping fee
WEB SITE: www.ford.ca
Metroland Media for Wheels.ca