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2014 Ford Fiesta gets a 3-cylinder engine with big mpg promises

Tiny EcoBoost engine seeks to lift frugal Fiesta into the economy-car pantheon

Published: January 24, 2014 04:30 PM

The Ford Fiesta has always been small, but the new-for-2014 EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine looks to make it a fuel economy champion. What kind of numbers are we talking about? Ford pegs EPA’s estimates at 32 mpg city, 45 on the highway, and 37 overall—numbers that actually match some hybrids or diesel-powered cars.

That type of fuel efficiency would put this little runner near the best in its class and positively trounce the first Fiestas we tested, which maxed out at 33 mpg overall in an automatic-equipped SE sedan. But note: This small turbocharged engine only comes with a manual and you have to pay extra for one less cylinder. (See our complete guide to fuel economy.)

Other news for 2014 is that all Fiestas get revised steering updates and the dreaded MyFord Touch infotainment system is now available.

For this new test, we bought a five-door hatchback SE, starting at $16,050. We added the SE Manual EcoBoost Package, which includes steel wheels and a regenerative brake system ($995). We also got the Comfort Package ($290), which brought heated mirrors and front seats as well as automatic climate control. A few other odds and ends gave the SE a bottom line of $18,720.

Our initial impressions are that the little 120-hp three-cylinder powerplant has to work hard getting up to speed, yet surprisingly, engine howl is kept to a minimum. The five-speed manual isn’t the most precise shifter, and the action is light. As with our original tests of the previous models, handling remains nimble and the ride is mostly composed.

But will this new Fiesta variant overcome some of weaknesses noted on other Fiestas, such as underwhelming acceleration and braking performance and so-so fit and finish? And will it improve on the previous version’s miserable reliability? Time and testing should provide an answer. Break-in miles are underway, and full testing is just around the corner.

—Mike Quincy

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