|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The Ford Fiesta, though stylish, fun-to-drive, and smart as it is, is never considered to be fuel-efficient. It may have arrived on the scene with a radical gearbox—a 6-speed dual clutch automatic, but its Achilles’s Heel is the 1.6-liter motor. No matter how you spin it, it’s not exactly a glowing example of a fuel economy. And I would know; I drove the Fiesta 1.6 Sport extensively, averaging just 8.62 km/L in the city. Heck, I even drove it around the Philippines in a contest with Jollibee two years back, and found out that refueling when gasoline stations are far apart is a pain. Thankfully, this motor’s finally bitten the dust and replacing it is an innovative turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder.
Ford is calling this the “small engine that can”. We’ve all heard that the engine block’s just the size of an A4-sized sheet of paper and that it has 25 percent fewer moving parts. Yes, all that scientific stuff’s good but what does that achieve in reality? In a nutshell: it’s awesome. It sounds cliché and all, but if there’s one thing this engine does is that it raises my confidence in three-cylinder engines. On paper, it produces 125 horsepower (same as the outgoing motor). Above all, it produces 18 Nm more torque (170 versus 152) over a broader range (1,400 to 4,500 rpm as opposed to peaking at just 4,050 rpm). This means the Fiesta EcoBoost feels livelier, sportier, and like the Philippines, more fun. Mash the throttle and it’ll send this hatchback flying to the tune of Barbra Streisand. And mind you, this engine’s also capable of overboost, pushing the torque figure to an even 200 Nm. Although it doesn’t dig you into your seats the way a Mustang would, it does feel like having a large engine under the hood, a two-liter Focus, for instance.
In-between mashing throttles though, this three-cylinder engine is remarkably quiet and smooth. Given the inherently unbalanced nature of a 3-cylinder engine, achieving this is a feat on its own. I could get all technical with you talking about the deliberately unbalanced counter-rotating flywheel and all, but what’s important is that this engine is as smooth as Anne Curtis’s underarms. There’s no uneven engine note or vibration whatsoever and it sings a wonderfully growly note. It’s an International Engine of the Year awardee, after all. For all intents and purposes, it feels like a four-cylinder engine, except of course in fuel economy. Ford reckons the EcoBoost engine should equate to a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy. In my four days with the Fiesta, that figure is way conservative: the EcoBoost actually does 35.33 percent better (13.33 km/L versus 8.62 km/L in traffic). On the highway, it runs 100 km/h at just 2,100 rpm resulting in 18.87 km/L—a figure that some say is rather pessimistic. A side note though, the EcoBoost requires a diet of 95-octane fuel.
Another weak point of the Fiesta is the roughness of the dual clutch transmission, especially when crawling in traffic. Sadly, this is still the case, but I’ve driven enough dual clutch-equipped Fords to know that the best way to eliminate shift shock is to be gentle with throttle inputs. That said, at least the Fiesta now rectifies the biggest omission from before: the lack of a manual shift override. The new Fiesta now has Select Shift which allows you to manually select a gear up or down. Mind you, there’s still no paddle shifter around, so you’ll need to move the gearlever to ‘S’ and then use the gearshift buttons to toggle up or down. This is rather counterintuitive, I know, but it’s better than having no manual override at all.
Aside from the new powertrain, the refreshed Fiesta now aligns itself to Ford’s new design direction. As everyone rightfully points out, it’s very Aston Martin-like and I’ve got no qualms about that. It’s more upscale and sportier. The new face also successfully hides the fact that the Fiesta’s gained a few millimeters upfront for improved crash and pedestrian safety. The hood’s also got a “power dome” built in. The rest of the exterior though is still the old Fiesta with the exception of a new alloy wheel design (which also surprisingly swaps the old Continental tires to Hankook ones) and new tail lamp clusters.
Inside, the Fiesta’s a mix of the new and familiar. The same basic cabin’s still the same but with a slew of welcome changes headlined by Ford SYNC. Replacing the old voice-activated system, Ford SYNC is far more intuitive and responsive when browsing through my 643-song iPod playlist or calling the wifey. Plus, this system can actually read out text messages if you choose it to. With all this tech though, I’d just have to nitpick this one time and point out that Ford SYNC is supposed to promote “having your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road”—safety first, after all. But the lack of steering wheel buttons means there’s a need for you to toggle through four-way directional key on the center console to navigate through SYNC’s options. Ford should have adopted the same system on the Explorer or even Focus that uses two four-directional controls on the steering wheel. Other than that, the rest of the interior’s pretty premium feeling with new high-gloss metallic inserts on the steering wheel, Piano Black accents on the center console, and even cross-stitched leather on the most supportive seats in the sub-compact class. Other convenience features include Ford Power Start keyless engine start/stop, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic climate control. And most importantly, the instrument panel now has a dimmer switch! In other words, it’s like having executive car features for just P 898,000.
The Fiesta has become Ford’s best-selling nameplate locally and regionally. Building on the success of the Fiesta through its sporty design, excellent safety, and smart technologies, the introduction of the EcoBoost engine adds class-leading fuel economy without any sort of performance compromise. Bar none, the Fiesta EcoBoost brings the most smiles in the sub-compact car class and can save you a lot in terms of ownership. It most certainly isn’t the perfect car out there—it’s still a bit clunky in stop-and-go traffic and it’s a bit cramped. However, if you’d want a fun little grocery getter for less than a million bucks; you should consider the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost in a heartbeat.
2014 Ford Fiesta EcoBoost
|Ownership||Fiesta EcoBoost 1.0|
|Body Type||5-door hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I3|
|BHP @ rpm||125 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||170 @ 1,400-4,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,131|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Twist Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|