Party time for the new Ford Fiesta
It had been so long since I test drove a Ford Fiesta that the details are rather fuzzy. The prevailing feeling was this: I didn't like it.
So faced with the recent prospect of driving the 2014 Fiesta for a week, one can imagine my enthusiasm. That's right, there was none!
It didn't take long for me to alter the opinion regarding the "new" Fiesta, a subcompact vehicle that has been around since 1976 and is now is in its sixth generation. While driving the Fiesta might not be anyone's idea of a party, there's definitely a fun factor with the latest model.
The Fiesta had literally been on a siesta from the American market for a while, until being reintroduced in 2011. Both the sedan and hatchback models have received a mild update for 2014 and the results are impressive for a vehicle that has been mostly maligned and purchased primarily for one reason: it was affordable.
2014 Ford Fiesta
- Performance: 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, 120 horsepower; 1.0-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder, 123 horsepower; 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 197 horsepower
- Mileage estimate range: 27-38 mpg
- Price: $14,795 to $21,400
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000
The good news is the Fiesta remains affordable. The base S model sedan starts at approximately $14,795, while the hatchbacks are not that much more expensive, starting at $15,395. The new Fiesta ST, which features a turbocharged engine, runs much higher at $21,400.
Anyone seriously looking to purchase a subcompact is primarily interested in sticker price and gas mileage. The Fiesta rates nicely in the latter category as well, getting between 26-38 mpg.
So what does all this mean regarding the Fiesta's standing in the subcompact group? It can now go head-to-head with the leaders and give car shoppers a reason to take a good look. That group includes the Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, and the Hyundai Accent.
On the outside, Ford has incorporated some styling from its popular Fusion, giving the Fiesta a larger and wider grill, plus a more angular hood that replaces a rounded one.
The Fiesta interior features some solid fine tuning as well. The cabin layout is better than many in its class, featuring a soft-touch dash, armrest, steering, and an appealing black trim. Front seat occupants will enjoy comfortable head and legroom. Yet that's not the case in the back seat, where adults will feel rather cramped. Trunk space is about average for the class at 12.8 cubic feet.
In the past, the Fiesta's performance was frankly - underperforming. That's no longer the case. The Fiesta now has more of a "peppy" label, especially the ST model, which features a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder that produces 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. The ST has been clocked going 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which puts it near or at the top of its class.
In comparison, the standard Fiesta engine is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder with 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and this Fiesta goes 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds.
Also new for 2014 is the turbocharged 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that elicits 123 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Ford paired this Fiesta engine with a five-speed manual transmission and says it delivers high performance and may reach 40 mpg in freeway situations.
Although no one will find the Fiesta sporty, it does offer rewarding driving dynamics and avoids the mundane qualities that characterize some subcompacts. It provides a firm ride, is fairly agile, isn't noisy, and absorbs the bumps sufficiently.
The new Fiesta has separated itself from a sketchy past and now warrants a serious look for subcompact shoppers.
Its strengths are many, including price, gas mileage, performance and quality interior.