Fiesta is the first Ford to get the 1.0-liter EcoBoost I-3 for the U.S. market

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN – The Fiesta subcompact will be the first Ford sold in North America with the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost option. The engine will be rated 123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, with highway fuel economy of more than 40 mpg, best in class, Ford says in a preview of its Los Angeles International Auto Show announcement.

The 1.0-liter Fiesta launches in the second half of 2013 as a 2014 model. Ford had previously hinted that the Focus compact would be its first North American model to get the new EcoBoost 1.0, which is built in Cologne, Germany. The engine is available in Europe in the Fiesta, Focus, B-Max, C-Max and even in the new 2013 Mondeo midsize sedan. It will be an optional engine for the Fiesta in the U.S. market.

EcoBoost engines are $995 options in most other Ford models.

Choosing the Fiesta first, before a 1.0 EcoBoost option for the Focus means Ford can probably keep sticker prices for cars such equipped under $20,000. Ford’s three- and four-cylinder EcoBoost engines are all built in Europe, which makes their cost levels substantially higher than the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6s, built in North America and offered in such models as the F-150 and Taurus SHO.

The EcoBoost option also ought to boost interest in the Fiesta, which like other b-segment cars in the U.S., has had sales fall off after a good full first year. Through October, Fiesta sales here totaled 47,475 units, compared with 61,516 for the first 10 months of 2011.

Ford says it expects the 1.0-liter Fiesta will have best-in-class fuel economy among non-hybrid- or electric-powered b-cars. The Fiesta SFE, with its 1.6-liter four and dry-clutch Powershift automatic transmission is rated 29/40 mpg city/highway, equal to a Chevrolet Sonic when equipped with its 1.4-liter turbo four and six-speed manual (automatic Sonic turbos are rated 27/37 mpg). Ford did not say which transmission or transmissions it will offer with the 1.0-liter.

The Fiesta 1.0 weighs 450 pounds less than a Focus with the same engine, Ford’s director of global engine engineering, Bob Fascetti, told journalists, many of whom drove a Focus with the engine last summer. The three-banger offers plenty of power for the heavier compact, based at least on a short drive around Ford’s Dearborn test facility.

The tiny engine has a dressed weight of just 214 pounds, and Ford demonstrated its compact size when PR guy Craig Daitch packed an engine block in his carry-on luggage recently.

Ford says the gas direct-injection, twin-independent variable camshaft timing turbo three has about 25 percent fewer parts than a four-cylinder EcoBoost. Features designed to offset the noise, vibration and harshness issues usually associated with three-bangers include an offset crankshaft, a sealed, maintenance-free timing belt in oil, external balancing via the flywheel to avoid a heavy balance shaft, integrated cylinder head and exhaust manifold and optimized engine mounts. The fast-acting, compact turbo, developed with supplier Continental, spins up to 248,000 rpm, Fascetti says.

— Todd Lassa

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