2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Introduction
Ford credits the bite-size Fiesta with jump-starting a significant increase in the company’s market share on American coasts, where import brands have ruled for decades. The best-selling subcompact car in the world, according to Ford, the Fiesta has enjoyed a significant 22% upswing in retail sales this year, thanks in part to first-time buyers and Millennials who say the Fiesta is their top choice in the class.
For 2014, Ford refines and updates the Fiesta in subtle yet significant ways, so I went to Santa Monica, Calif., to check out this latest party in person. The drive was brief, but since I couldn’t sample the new 1.0-liter turbocharged engine or the performance-tuned ST model first-hand, the short route provided enough time to determine that the updated 2014 Fiesta is better than ever.
2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Changes for 2014
To ensure that the 2014 Fiesta continues to prove popular in the subcompact car segment, Ford is making numerous changes in addition to expanding the lineup. The styling is updated, with a new nose reminiscent of the Fusion midsize sedan and, for the Fiesta Sedan, a tidied-up tail. New colors also debut, including Green Envy, seen here on our test car.
Perhaps the most important modification to the 2014 Fiesta is the addition of a new turbocharged 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine to the lineup. This new engine is an option, and though I didn’t get a chance to sample it, certainly appears to be worth the added cost.
With the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, horsepower increases just three ponies to 123, but torque rises by 36 lb.-ft. and is accessible across a lower and broader rev range, which will certainly make the Fiesta feel livelier when accelerating. Better yet, Ford predicts the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will get more than 40 mpg, equaling or exceeding the current car’s SE Super Fuel Economy Package.
Driving enthusiasts will want to consider the new Fiesta ST model, which has a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine generating 197 horsepower and 214 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition to this substantial increase in oomph, the Fiesta ST is equipped with torque vectoring control, a lowered sport suspension, improved brakes, faster steering, and an upgraded 3-mode stability control system. Styling is appropriately revised for a sportier look. If all this sounds good, you’d better learn how to use a 6-speed manual gearbox, because that’s the only one offered.
Aside from these changes, the new 2014 Fiesta lineup gains new technologies including a Sony premium audio system with HD Radio, a MyFord Touch infotainment system with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen, and MyKey programmable vehicle features. Using MyKey, the Fiesta’s owner can program speed warnings and limits, establish lower maximum stereo volume limits, set incessant seatbelt warning chimes, and eliminate the ability to turn off safety systems such as stability control. MyKey is an excellent tool for parents who purchase a Fiesta to be used by young drivers.
Ford has also further refined the Fiesta’s optional 6-speed PowerShift automated manual transmission, which has come a long way in terms of refinement since the last time I drove a Fiesta back in 2011. This year, a Sport driving mode debuts, complete with SelectShift manual gear changes using a button on the side of the shift lever.
2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Styling and Design
There’s no arguing against the 2014 Fiesta’s exterior styling updates. The redesigned front-end looks terrific, especially on the top trim level, the Fiesta Titanium, which has chrome trim on the lower grille in addition to standard fog lights. Around back, the Fiesta Sedan sports a redesigned trunk, new rear fascia, and restyled taillights. The result is a more upscale appearance than before.
Pop the freshly sculpted trunk lid, and the Fiesta Sedan offers 12.8 cu.-ft. of cargo space. That doesn’t sound like much, but it sure looks like plenty when examined on a diminutive vehicle like a Fiesta.
New exterior colors include Performance Blue, Storm Gray, and Green Envy, a metallic color that looks a little bit like Mountain Dew when you get up close and personal with it. Green Envy runs $595 extra.
Inside, the Fiesta looks familiar, but minor trim and equipment changes give the car an updated look and feel. The previous Fiesta’s silver plastic accents are toned down for 2014, and Ford employs additional piano black trim to give the Fiesta a more sophisticated look. Select Medium Light Stone seats, and the dashboard and door panels are rendered in a more sophisticated 2-tone appearance.
2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Comfort and Controls
I’m a big guy and this is a small car. But I drive small cars all the time, and not all of them feel as narrow inside as a Fiesta. Plus, the Fiesta’s back seat is very tight for adults when grown-ups simultaneously occupy the front seats. Comparatively speaking, a Nissan Versa Sedan is a limousine.
The driver’s seat itself provides decent comfort, and a height adjuster helps to find a good position behind a thick-rimmed tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Leather is offered as an option, but my SE Sedan test car had the upgraded sport fabric seats with contrast-color stitching. Those seats are included in the optional SE Appearance Package, which for $995 also adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, fog lights, a rear lip spoiler, Sync hands-free connectivity with MyFord Touch, satellite radio, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Like the Fiesta’s PowerShift transmission, MyFord Touch technology has been on a continuous improvement program since it debuted a few years ago. Today’s version is more responsive and intuitive to use, and when installed with the new Sony premium sound system, presents the driver with a simpler control panel than did the previous Fiesta’s array of angled infotainment buttons, which were designed to resemble a Motorola Razr flip-phone. Remember those, from way back in the olden days?
Generally speaking, the 2014 Fiesta looks and feels like a more expensive car than it is, but that’s not always the case. The headliner, for example, is awful. And it sure would be nice if some of that softly padded dashboard material could be applied in areas that people actually touch.
2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Driving Impressions
The reason I drove a Fiesta Sedan rather than the Fiesta Hatchback came down to paint color. I wanted to photograph the car in its new Green Envy hue. As a bonus, this particular Fiesta SE had the optional PowerShift transmission, giving the car the most common powertrain setup.
Until now, it had been several years since I had driven a Fiesta, and my general impression is that the 2014 version is more refined than before, especially with regard to how the optional PowerShift transmission behaves. Previously, it hesitated when accelerating in first gear, and shifted in a leisurely fashion. Now, after a continuous program of updates and upgrades, it operates much like a traditional automatic, with faster response and quicker, smoother gear changes.
Around town, the Fiesta’s standard 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower 4-cylinder engine delivers reasonable response. This is not a quick car, but there’s no excuse for holding up traffic, either. It can easily maintain extra-legal speeds on the highway, but it definitely struggles up a hill. The PowerShift transmission’s new Sport driving mode helps it to hold gears to maintain engine revs, and the SelectShift button gives the driver manual control over gear selection, but ascending mountain grades still results in more engine noise than forward momentum.
The car is far more pleasurable to drive down a hill, or on level ground. Engineered in Europe, the Fiesta exhibits genuinely entertaining driving dynamics, and compared to my notes from the last Fiesta I drove, the electric steering offers better on-center feel and off-center response. Suspension tuning is typical of a European car, soft and absorbent over bad pavement but with no loss of communication with the road surface. My test sample’s SE Appearance Package included 16-inch aluminum wheels and wider tires, adding an extra reserve of stick in corners.
During the drive, the Fiesta averaged 34.6 mpg. The EPA estimates that it will get 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway when equipped with the PowerShift transmission.
2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan Quick Spin: Final Thoughts
On the day I drove the revamped 2014 Fiesta, the J.D. Power APEAL Study came out, listing the Chevrolet Sonic as the most appealing subcompact car followed by the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent. Having driven all of them, I can say that this result makes sense. Next year, though, I wouldn’t bet against the 2014 Fiesta, thanks to its technology upgrades, added driving refinement, new EcoBoost engine option, and that super-cool new Fiesta ST model.
Ford provided the 2014 Ford Fiesta for this review
2014 Ford Fiesta SE photos by Christian Wardlaw
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