2014 Ford Fiesta: Sporty, limited subcompact

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Now in its seventh generation, the Ford Fiesta subcompact debuted in 1976 and is third all-time in the carmaker’s sales behind F-Series pick-up trucks and the Ford Escort.

In the 2014 edition, the Fiesta is available in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a four-door hatchback. Both are available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. The high-performance ST model, new for 2014, is available only as a hatchback.

The Weekly Driver’s Test Drive

Unveiled at 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Fiesta ST, a five-door hatchback — my weekly driver — is available only in North America. It was first publicly available in spring 2013 as a 2014 model.

It features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission that produces 196 horsepower. The ST model is further sporty via its 17-inch wheels, sportier steering wheel, performance-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, optional Recaro seats.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta is sporty for its class.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta is sporty for its class. All images © James Raia/2014

The base Fiesta comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, power locks and mirrors, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, various Ford Sync functions (iPod/USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice controls, some app-based services and certain safety communications functions), an auxiliary audio jack and, for hatchback models, a rear wiper.

The Fiesta SE includes all of the above, plus keyless entry, power windows, exterior mirrors with side marker lamps, cruise control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a trip computer, 15-inch painted aluminum wheels, metallic interior trim, a front center console with armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and ambient lighting.

The Fiesta ST hatchback has all of the Fiesta SE amenities, and features unique bodywork, foglamps, dual exhaust tips, a six-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, quicker steering and upgraded brakes. Inside you’ll find automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, a leather-wrapped shift knob, the MyFord Touch interface, Sony speakers and HD radio, along with ST-specific cloth sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum-trimmed pedals, floor mats and door sill plates.

My weekly drive with the Fiesta ST included primarily city driving, and it was easy to understand the overwhelming praise the car has received. It’s nimble around town. Its overall sportiness is impressive from acceleration to efficiency in parking lots, narrow streets, u-turns, etc.

But as a 6-foot, 190-pound driver, I also quickly realized that despite the well-known Recaro seats, the Fiesta uncomfortable on longer hauls. The interior is narrow and the Recaro seats seemed squeezed in an already tight space.

The Fiesta also has noticeable wind rush in freeway driving. I repeatedly checked the window controls to make certain they were fully closed. The Fiesta ST is also seemed “small” on the road. It’s safe but it just drove as if inferior on the open road. Particularly at high speeds and while in multi-lane traffic, bigger cars, vans and trucks ruled.

Likes:

Convenience of a small car in tight places.

European design.

Good gas mileage.

Dislikes:

Tight seating.

Cargo space minimal.

Rear spoiler. Really?

Facts & Figures: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.1 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 26 mpg (city), 35 mpg (highway), 29 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 197.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $24,785.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.ford.com.
Price As Tested: $25,580.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Since Ford reintroduced the Fiesta subcompact to the U.S. market in 2011, we have been big fans. Tiny but feisty, the Fiesta has an overall goodness that’s disproportionate to its size, with a vast talent set that includes slick styling (freshened for 2014), snappy handling and a high level of refinement inside.” — Edmunds.

“The 2014 Ford Fiesta may be the only American sub-compact that can truly stand up to the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. Slick Eurostyle looks, outstanding fuel economy and true fun-to-drive chassis tuning do the trick.” –Kelley Blue Book.

“Therein lies the most beautiful part about the Fiesta ST package: It hits a really sweet spot in the US market. If you don’t really need the space of the somewhat larger B-segment hatches, you don’t have to get it. Save your money and have just as much fun in the Fiesta, if not more.” — Autoblog.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Convenient and spry around town, but the tight seating, heavy hatchback lift, tough shifting and unnecessary rear spoiler left me flat and seeking a more comfortable small sedan. Even if that means giving up some sportiness.”

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