The sporty 2014 Ford Fiesta lets you bring the kids along. The fun-to-drive, European-styled, economical Fiesta has what many want from a subcompact four-door hatchback or sedan, although its rear seat is only comfortable for children.
New for 2014 is an Aston Martin-inspired grille and new hood that fronts a slick body. (Ford once owned Aston Martin.) The Fiesta comes as a four-door hatchback or four-door sedan with a variety of engines—from a fuel-stingy new three-cylinder to a hot new turbocharged four-cylinder.
The new Fiesta is offered as front-drive S, SE and Titanium models. You can get a four-door hatchback or sedan, but the new front-drive ST hot rod model comes only as a four-door hatchback. The sedan is 173.5 inches long, while the hatchback is 159.7 inches long. Both have a 98-inch wheelbase.
Fiesta list prices range from $14,000 for the base S model to $21,400 for the ST version. Prices for the new three-cylinder weren’t available as of this writing. I tested the upscale $18,800 Titanium hatchback, which costs $600 more than the Titanium sedan.
My test car looked especially racy in its striking Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat paint, but it costs an extra $395.
Standard for the S are features including an AM/FM stereo, air conditioning, adjustable steering wheel with audio controls and power mirrors. The SE adds cruise control, automatic headlights, keyless entry, leather steering wheel and aluminum wheels.
The more upscale Titanium has wider wheels (16- vs. 15-inch) with wider tires, a premium sound system, pushbutton start, heated front leather-trimmed seats and power mirrors that (manually) fold to prevent parking lot damage. It also has automatic temperature control, back-up camera and rear parking aid.
Safety features include air bags galore and side air curtains.
Most small cars no longer are “strippers,” so options include a sunroof, leather-trimmed seats for models that don’t have them, navigation system and a new MyFord Touch system with a 6.5-inch touch screen that has enhanced voice control, providing more options for navigation, communication and entertainment functions.
The newcomer engines are a turbocharged EcoBoost 1.6-liter 197-horsepower four-cylinder for the ST and a turbocharged EcoBoost 1-liter 123-horsepower three-cylinder that Ford says is expected to deliver “more than 40 miles per gallon.”
Standard for this subcompact is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that provides 120 horsepower. That engine was in my test Fiesta Titanium automatic-transmission hatchback. It provided lively acceleration in town but just average 65-75 m.p.h. passing on highways.
The engine was hooked to a responsive, optional ($1,095) Powershift six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature that worked well despite too-small upshift/downshift controls. It’s offered for the S, SE and Titanium models. All, except the ST, have a standard five-speed manual transmission. The ST comes only with a six-speed manual. After all, it’s mainly for car buffs.
At 65 m.p.h., my test car’s engine registered 2,500 r.p.m., which is rather high for a car with a six-speed automatic.
Estimated fuel economy of the ST is 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on highways. The standard 120-horsepower engine delivers an estimated 29 miles per gallon in the city and 39 on highways with either the five-speed manual or PowerShift automatic.
The ST provides the most fun, with its added power, quicker steering, sport suspension, upgraded brakes, electronic torque vectoring, larger (17-inch) wheels with wider tires and a rear spoiler. It reminds me of one of those legendary (at least in Europe) fast, tough European rally cars.
However, my tamer test Fiesta was still fun to drive with its super-quick steering and supple suspension that shrugged off most bumps, although occupants could feel and hear some of the worst road imperfections. Handling was agile and cornering was flat, helped by electronic stability control. The four-wheel anti-lock brakes worked confidently, controlled by an easily modulated pedal.
Large door handles make it easy to quickly enter the Fiesta’s quiet interior, which looks upscale with such things as soft-touch materials. The gauges can be easily read, but the sound system controls are offbeat. The front bucket seats provide good side support in curves, although they need more thigh support. So could the rear ones. The front console has dual cupholders, but there’s only one cupholder awkwardly placed at floor level in the rear.
There’s good room up front, with wide-opening doors, but the rear seat is cramped and has narrow door openings.
The hatchback has a moderately large cargo area, and rear seatbacks flip forward to enlarge it. Rear headrests fold forward so they’re out of the way of front seats when rear seatbacks are folded forward to form a flat cargo floor.There are few cabin storage areas, so some stuff likely will be tossed in the backseat.
The heavy lined hood is held open with just a prop rod, but the neat engine compartment has easily reached fluid filler areas.
The new Fiesta offers a lot for the money, but load it with options and you’re in compact-car price territory.
Pros: Stylish. Nimble. Supple ride. Nice interior. New hots road ST model. New fuel-stingy, three-cylinder engine. New MyFord Touch technology.
Cons: Cramped backseat. Offbeat radio controls. Need ST for best performance.
Bottom Line: European-style compact is a kick to drive.
Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more then 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage automotive reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.