Last month I attended the Ford 2014 Model Year, where I felt very out of place with colleagues (can you call them colleagues if you don’t get paid?) from the big car publications and also felt quite at home with my cronies from Internet obscurity. But I was there to drive some cars and give some impressions, and that is what I plan to do.
We all dabbled in the Escape, Explorer, and the F-150’s, but I was there for the Fiesta. I’ve stated it a number of times on my website hat I have a soft spot for small hatchbacks, and the Fiesta fits right in. I was excited to head to Dearborn to possibly drive the Fiesta 1.0L 3 cylinder EcoBoost or the Fiesta ST, as both models should be available in the US coming later in 2013. Sadly, neither was available for us to drive. I cried a little into my coffee, but I was able to pull myself together and enjoy some autocross and a nice cruise in the 2014 Fiesta.
The 2014 Fiesta is powered by the 1.6L 4 cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower and 112 ft-lbs. of torque at 5,000rpms. This is the reason that I began to find things I liked about the Fiesta as I kept the revs up high.
The Fiesta does come standard with a 5 speed manual transmission, which I liked a lot. The clutch was light and the gear shifter felt solid. You can start from a standstill in 2nd gear, but I do not recommend doing this unless you want the elderly to pass you on their mobility scooters.
There is also an optional PowerShift 6 speed automatic transmission. I only drove the Powershift on the autocross, which meant that it shifted to second and that was about it. It might have gone back down to first a couple of times, but I didn’t really notice. I was having too much fun driving a slow car fast!
The ride in the Fiesta is pretty good for an economy hatchback. I was able to take the Fiesta out onto the mean streets of Dearborn for a roundtrip of 17 miles. I kept examining the road surface to make sure that I WAS hitting the bumps and not just driving on the most pristine road ever. There were plenty of potholes, gaps, crevices, and quagmires (what?!?!). Ok, not really quagmires, but the road was still recovering from the previous winter. The Fiesta handled all the different surfaces fairly well. The ride is something that always stands out for me in an economy hatch and the Fiesta passes.
The backseat of the Fiesta is not huge. The rear legroom is listed at 31.2 inches, more than enough room for two full size child safety seats. You also can get two rear doors in the Fiesta. I like the look of the four-door hatch to that of the sedan or two-door coupe.
The Fiesta handles very well. I thrashed the little red SE 5 speed manual around the autocross course a number of times. There was wheel spin, tires screaming, body rotation, and some damp underpants. The last one isn’t true…
On turn in, the Fiesta snaps to the corner. I was pleasantly surprised by how readily the back end rotates through the corner. Normally I’m used to big power rear wheel drive cars having the back end step out to help rotate through the corner. The Fiesta does it as well, even though it’s a small front wheel drive hatchback. This is a very good characteristic to have, especially when we start talking about the Fiesta ST.
The ST was there, but we weren’t allowed to drive it. It was the four door hatch, which is the style we will get in the States. Europe gets the two-door. I personally like the four-door better, but there are a lot that like the two-door better. I’ve got kids and I see four doors as essential to me keeping my sanity, so I’m assuming my subconscious has told me that I think the four-door is the more attractive car.
The ST has a robust powertrain for such a small car. It gets the 1.6L EcoBoost which makes 197 horsepower and 202 ft-lbs. or torque. If it’s anything as good as the Focus St (and it should be), then this is going to be a great car. The kind of car that I’m definitely going to try and get some wheel time in.
I’m still looking forward to the 1.0L Ecoboost. I’m still a little sad it wasn’t there to drive. It’s such a good little engine. It’s won the International Engine of the Year the last two years. Plus Ford is going to put it in their European Mondeo’s. That’s a three cylinder engine in a mid-sized sedan. Sounds sketch but if there’s an engine that can do it; it’s the 1.0L EcoBoost.
I also spent some time with the Fusion Energi. This was the most relaxing part of the day. Ford had us compete on their low speed test track to see who could save the most energy while regenerative braking and also who used the least amount of energy total while driving and while braking. They called them the “Kinetic Ninja” and the “Zen Master.” The graph from all of our scores had to look kind of boring. Everybody drove the same at the same low speed. My vehicle had almost all 100% scores for our regenerative braking. I let us down a couple of times. We didn’t win…
The Fusion Energi is a plug-in hybrid. On full EV (Electric Vehicle) mode you can go 22 miles. The cost to recharge the battery at the nation’s lowest average rate is $0.80, but it takes 7 hours at 120 volts.
Once you’re done with your 22 miles of EV range, then the Fusion has a 2.0L four cylinder engine that kicks in. It makes decent power at 141 horsepower and 129 ft. lbs. of torque. The total system (electric + gas engine) combines for 188 hp of sustained power.
Ford has said that the Fusion has a 600 mile range on the engine. That’s the whole 14 gallon fuel tank achieving a combined number of 43mpg. The city number for the Energi is higher (44mpg) than the highway number (41mpg). 600 miles is a long way between fill-ups, especially at $4 a gallon. At that point the fuel is outlasting the bladders in the backseat. That’s the nice thing about having kids; I can blame their little bladders and not the fact that I would have to pee before I was able to drive 600 miles.
I liked the Energi and had a nice relaxing time in the car. Ford has so many different options for fuel saving and they build almost all of them down the same assembly line. Whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid, a hybrid, or an EcoBoost motor, they know they’ve got at least one option for you!
Thank you to Ford for letting me thrash their Fiestas and I had a lovely time relaxing in the Fusion Energi. Can’t wait to see the Fiesta ST and 1.0L EcoBoost engine here in the States!