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First drive: 2014 Ford Fiesta remains fresh on the scene

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For 2014, Ford gave the sub-compact Fiesta a new design up front which includes a larger grille which more resembles its big brother, the handsome Ford Fusion. Angular new headlamps and a deep lower fascia with built-in spoiler round out the changes.

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With the new design touches, the five door hatch-back silhouette still looks contemporary in a sea of new competitors. Our SE test model had the optional appearance package which added elegant multi-spoke alloy wheels to its Race Red exterior.

The interior of the Fiesta is features Ford’s European design style which is sporty and more intricate than many small car cabins. The seating in our SE model had a premium cloth trim that was both appealing to the eye as well as comfortable.

While the Fiesta is small the cabin feel spacious up front. The rear seat has adequate leg room but the cargo area is a bit tight. A sedan version is available with a full trunk however if you need the extra space. You can of course fold the seats flat for a large flat floored cargo area if need be.

The revised MyFord Touch touch screen infotainment system is optional thank goodness. While improved over previous versions it’s still unnerving tech for tech sake when it comes to motoring. Many other auto manufacturers provide the same functionality with far less hassle.

The handling is European in feel with a staccato ride. The steering is direct and linear, offering up a sporty feel that continues to wear well wit the Fiesta. It is well isolated from noise however, never giving you a tinny hollow feel that some sub-compact cars give.

Our tester had the standard 120 horsepower 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine mated to a standard 5-speed manual. The engine provides more than adequate power with a free revving spirit. It’s fun to drive. The only complaint is that the shifter’s throw is a bit long and action notchy.

The EPA rates the 2014 Fiesta as tested at 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. If you select the 6-speed PowerShift automatic your mpg rises to 29 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. If its all about gas mileage, you can option the new for 2014 1.0 liter EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo which is rated at over 45 mpg highway.

Overall the Fiesta remains a strong contender in this class and worth a look if you are shopping for a car in this segment. Competitors include the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic just to name a few.

Our tester came in at just under $19,000 with a few options including the MyFord Touch system and the SE Appearance Package. This puts it toward the mid-point of the 2014 Ford Fiesta price range which can get up into the mid-twenties if you opt for a full bang Fiesta ST high performance model.

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