For 2014, the big news for Ford’s smallest car is the arrival of the hot-hatch Fiesta ST and of the optional 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Both of those variants will come only with a manual transmission, however, and will play to a relatively small portion of Fiesta buyers. The bulk of Fiesta buyers will choose one of the standard trim levels — S, SE, SE with appearance package, and Titanium — all of which continue to use the normally aspirated 1.6-liter four. Even though that engine is carry-over, there is some news on those models for 2014.
Smoothing the Powershift
The 1.6-liter is again paired with a five-speed manual or a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic. Ford engineers concentrated their efforts on the automatic, which, particularly in stop-and-go driving, could be noisy, jerky, and indecisive. In our mostly low- and moderate-speed drive through some of the coastal towns in central New Jersey, the Powershift exhibited none of that bad behavior, and only the occasional gear noise. The transmission also has a new Sport mode that will hold gears longer before upshifting, and for the first time there’s a provision for manual gear selection — unfortunately, it’s an awkwardly placed little plus-minus toggle switch on the gear lever and the transmission must be in S before it can be used.
As before, the 120-hp four is no powerhouse, although at least it sounds pretty good as you attempt to wring out its 112 pound-feet of torque. This engine is all about fuel economy, which is all-important in this class. Expect Ford to shout the number 41 mpg from the rooftops — that’s the highway rating for the Fiesta with the optional ($95) SFE package. The city rating is 30 mpg; both are 1 mpg higher than last year. The SFE package, by the way, consists of aerodynamic bits (and underbody tray and a trunk lid spoiler for the sedan), full-face wheel covers, and higher recommended tire pressure (but the same tires). Without the package, the EPA figures are 29/39 mpg (city/highway) with the automatic, and 27/38 mpg for the manual — the manual figures actually slipped a bit versus 2013. The most economical Fiesta, however, will arrive later this year in the form of the 1.0-liter three-cylinder, which is expected to beat even the SFE.
Style-wise, the 2014 Fiesta doesn’t so much get a facelift as it gets a face graft, with a completely reshaped front end that incorporates the “Aston Martin” hex-shaped grille introduced with the new Ford Fusion and that is now spreading throughout the lineup. It’s flanked by new headlights, and looks every bit as good here as it does elsewhere.
Roughly half of Fiesta buyers choose the sedan, and they will notice that the rear of the car has been restyled for a more grown-up, less dorky look. We still prefer the funky, four-door hatchback body style, because of its smaller footprint and greater cargo-carrying versatility. For true cargo-carrying versatility, however, the Fiesta still trails the more box-shaped Honda Fit with its contortionist folding rear seat. And neither Fiesta offers a back seat that adults will really want to spend time in. For that, you need a Nissan Versa.
Small though it is, the Fiesta interior has been upgraded for 2014. MyFord Touch comes to the Fiesta, in the top two trim levels. Both get a junior version of the system, with a 6.5-inch screen rather than the 8-inch screen used elsewhere. The smaller screen means even smaller touch points than those in the regular MFT. Still, you might want the system because the lower-spec cars continue with the cell-phone-style mass of buttons that we have previously criticized in the Fiesta (and the Focus). MFT also brings with it the option of navigation and a backup camera; both are rare in this class, as is leather upholstery, which you get in the Titanium.
Ford marketers may want to talk about fuel economy, but the watchword for the Fiesta continues to be pizzazz, more so than practicality. And that’s not bad positioning in the often-glum subcompact segment.
2014 Ford Fiesta
- Base Price: $14,795
- On Sale: Now
- Engine: 1.6-liter I-4
- Power: 120 hp @ 6350 rpm
- Torque: 112 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Drive: Front-wheel
- Wheels and Tires: 16-inch, 195/50HR16
- Fuel Economy: 29/39 mpg city/highway
- Curb Weight: 2575 lbs
- Doors/Passengers: 4/5
- Cargo: 14.9 cu ft
- Legroom (front/rear): 42.2/31.2 in
- Headroom (front/rear): 39.1/37.2 in