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2014 Ford Fiesta SFE shows smaller can be both bigger and better

2014 Fiesta SFE 1.0L EcoBoost - four door hatchback gets 43 mpg highway
2014 Fiesta SFE 1.0L EcoBoost - four door hatchback gets 43 mpg highway
austinautoboomer by permission

The 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE with its innovative and award winning 1.0L EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine has a lot more under that hood than you might think. Simply, with this smallest EcoBoost engine yet, the Fiesta SFE really moves out while still delivering hybrid-level fuel economy in the range of 31/43 mpg city/highway with an expected average of 36 mpg.

Seriously big punch under this hood
austinautoboomer by permission

The regular line of seven Fiesta subcompact segment models from Ford include sedans and hatchbacks that range from the entry level S (MSRP $13,865) to the top end ST model (MSRP $20,915). The heart of Fiesta line is the SE sedan or hatchback both with an MSRP of $15,095. All are powered by the standard 1.6L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that produces 120 horsepower with 112 lb.-ft. of torque. With the 5-speed manual transmission it gets a combined 31 mpg and with the 6-speed PowerShift automatic, it gets 32 mpg combined.

Ford added another trim level, the SFE with the 1.0L EcoBoost engine to the North America line up in 2014. The Fiesta SFE 1.0L Hatchback is mated with a 5-speed manual transmission specifically tuned to maximize the performance of its (greater than the 1.6L) 123 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft of torque. This new smaller engine uses a compact low-inertia turbo charger that spins up to 248,000 rpm which is almost twice the max rpm for turbochargers in Formula 1 race cars. For peak performance by the Fiesta SFE, they then added an over boost function to the 1.0L that ramps it up to 148 lb.ft of torque for up to 15 seconds or until the driver backs off the throttle.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE 1.0L is priced at $16,080 – just $985 more than the 1.6L power plant SE – a bit more money, but a whole lot more punch from the smaller engine. Coupled with the 5-speed manual transmission that is geared to maximize acceleration from its first three gears with its two top-end gears operating as overdrives – it is quick off the line (especially when the over boost kicks in) and then gets more than 10 percent better highway fuel economy than the 1.6L.

We have just spent a week zipping around the hills and highways of Central Texas in a brand new 2014 Fiesta Hatchback SFE with the 1.0L EcoBoost. To optimize the performance of this vehicle and power train combination and to further compliment the aerodynamic design of the Fiesta hatchback, Ford added what they call their SE Manual EcoBoost Fuel Economy Package for $995. It included a rear spoiler, side air deflectors, underbody shields, lower grille blockers and 15-inch steel wheels with silver painted covers, shod with low-rolling-resistance tires. Our test Fiesta SFE also included the Comfort Package ($290) with heated front row seat cushions, dual outside power heated mirrors and automatic temperature control.

Including delivery, our test 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE 1.0L Hatchback priced at $18,190.

Now this is not a loaded up car by any means, but it has most of what you need for a fuel efficient and surprisingly performance capable subcompact that can handle a wide range of needs. The Fiesta is equipped with AdvanceTrac with Electronic Stability Control and power steering to enhance driver control. The air conditioning works exceptionally well. It also includes automatic headlamps, power locks, remote keyless entry, variable intermittent wipers and tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls.

The Fiesta SFE seats five comfortably though rear leg room is a shade tight at 31.2-inches. Front seating is comfortable and accommodates full-size adults well with good visibility and controls all easily in reach. If we had a minor concern, it was the width of the driver leg space adjacent to the center console under the IP. It was a touch tight for us, but is certainly more than adequate for most drivers.

The rear hatch opens high and wide for good access and is equipped with a defroster and wiper for the glass. Cargo space in the hatchback is actually a surprisingly generous 14.9 cubic feet behind the 60/40 fold-down second row seating. Though the Fiesta SFE does not have things like a rear view camera or satellite radio, it is equipped with Ford Sync and a nice AM/FM – single CD/MP3 capable radio with six speakers. It also has a small, but useful, driver information center screen in the IP.

We were seriously impressed with the quality of the interior surfaces both hard and soft, in this Fiesta. The quality was good, but the attention to the detail was very good. Notably, the seating surfaces had fabric contours woven in for, not only appearance, but comfort as well. More notably, was the linen-weave surface treatment of the hard touch materials particularly on the top and front of the IP. In addition to the very nice look and touch, they did not reflect glare into the cabin. Bravo to the interior designers on this one.

When we first learned of the new 1.0L EcoBoost engine and the fact that it is a 3-cylinder – we had our concerns about performance. The Fiesta SFE is not a Boss Mustang for sure, but it does get around very nicely. We have a test run we like to make locally that tells us a lot about the handling and power of smaller vehicles as we run up (and then down) the Lime Creek Road hill from Volente to Cedar Park (local readers will know where it is). It runs a gamut of twists and turns covering 9.61 miles to travel slightly under four miles ‘as the crow flies’. Short grades in many of the tight turns run upwards of 10-percent or more.

Our Fiesta 1.0L SFE made short work of the hill going up. Starting from a dead stop, we shifted easily through the gear box to fourth gear (first overdrive) – getting to 50 mph before entering the curves. We only had to downshift to third gear twice in particularly aggressive switchbacks and never dropped below 35 mph over the near ten mile route to the top. Coming down, the braking and stability of the Fiesta were almost sports car like – requiring a downshift to second gear to further assist the braking and steering in only the same two tightest of the switchback corner turns.

We can easily see how this new power plant (that can fit in a suitcase and go in the overhead bin of an airplane) has been named, now for the third year in a row, the International Engine of the Year at the prestigious Engine Expo in Stuttgart, Germany.

There will be many who will appreciate now well this Fiesta supports the idea that smaller can be both bigger and better. Are you one of them? Drive one and find out.