2015 Ford Fiesta 5-Door Hatch SEPosted on September 17th, 2015
EcoBoost engine takes it further
By Nina Russin
If somebody had told me twenty years ago that a one-liter engine could power a car, I would have laughed. Yet that’s exactly what Ford engineers have done with the newest subcompact Fiesta, featuring the automaker’s one-liter EcoBoost engine and five-speed automatic transmission.
The 123-horsepower engine develops up to 148 foot-pounds of torque. Mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that enables drivers to keep the revs up, it’s a peppy, fun-to-drive package with 36 mile-per-gallon fuel economy.
One of the reasons the engine works so well is curb weight, which for the manual transmission model is a bit over 2,500 pounds. That’s about the same as an averaged equipped Mazda Miata and less than a Scion FR-S.
The hatchback adds versatility, with a taller, roomier cargo bay than sedans in the competitive segment. Base price for the test car is $16,085, excluding the $825 destination charge. Options including the EcoBoost engine and green metallic exterior finish bring the final MSRP to $18,300.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
Over the past week I drove the Fiesta around the Phoenix, Chandler and Scottsdale Arizona metropolitan areas as well as a section of the Gila River Indian community south of town. Having subjected the Fiesta to blazing heat, monsoonal rain and dust storms, high-speed traffic and rush hour gridlock, I would put it on the short list for first-time buyers who need to watch the budget.
It’s rare for a subcompact car to grow on me during a weeklong test drive, but the Fiesta did. The five-speed manual transmission is key, enabling the driver to keep the engine in its sweet spot of about 3,000 rpm. Granted this doesn’t offer the best gas mileage, but after at least two hundred miles of driving, I still had half a tank of gas to spare.
The powertrain delivered in other areas as well. The engine is vibration-free and relatively quiet. The clutch pedal is light enough to be easy on the feet in stop-and-go traffic. Drivers can utilize first gear up to about 20 miles-per-hour, so they don’t have to shift between first and second while crawling through traffic jams. And fourth gear works just fine for everything except the highway.
Manual seat adjustments include a height lever so smaller drivers can get a clear view forward. The driver’s seat has adequate lower lumbar support for drives over an hour in duration.
Although the test car did not have a rearview camera, I had no problems seeing out the back. Convex inserts in the side mirrors enable the driver to monitor several lanes of traffic on the highway.
The electric power steering system is nicely tuned: very good low-speed performance and solid on-center response on the highway. The Fiesta’s 34.4-foot turning circle makes it easy to slip into small parking spots on the street.
The Fiesta’s small wheels are stable enough for the highway, but that combined with a live rear axle make means the driver does feel some bumps in the road.
As with most of its competitors, the Fiesta comes with front discs and rear drum brakes. Since most of a front-wheel drive car’s braking takes place over the front axle, the combination offers reliable, linear performance.
Engineers did a surprisingly good job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior in such a small, light car.
The five-door Fiesta holds up to four adult passengers, with the rear doors offering decent ingress and egress from the rear seats. Although it isn’t a fancy car, there are some nice surprises on the inside, such as the tilt-and telescoping steering wheel that is by no means a given in this segment.
A comfort package on the test car adds heated front seats and outside mirrors: both nice additions for drivers living in four-season climates.
Touch points on the car are also surprisingly nice. The steering wheel is the right diameter and comfortable to hold, and the shift lever is ergonomically designed.
Infotainment functions are easy to access and intuitive to use.
The cargo area is small with the rear seats in place, but offers enough room for a small suitcase or some groceries. With second-row seats folded flat there is room for some small camping equipment, more luggage or golf bags. Cyclists would want to install a roof rack or opt for one of the brand’s larger crossover vehicles.
The Ford Fiesta comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock braking, stability control and tire pressure monitoring. MyKey enables parents to control functions such as maximum speed and radio volume for younger drivers.
The peppy Fiesta hatchback is on display at Ford dealerships nationwide.
Like: A versatile hatchback with excellent fuel economy and solid performance from its innovative EcoBoost engine.
Dislike: Optional green metallic paint is a bit garish.
Model: Fiesta 5-Door Hatch SE
Base price: $16,085
As tested: $18,300
Horsepower: 123 Hp @ 6350 rpm
Torque: 148 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 31/43 mpg city/highway2015, Urban 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Ford, performance, pricing, standard safety