2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

For Fiesta owners, it seems like a win-win situation: a smaller engine that offers not only more horsepower and torque but better fuel economy too.  New for 2014, Ford’s tiny 1.0L EcoBoost (turbocharged) three-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection boasts a surprising 123 hp hp at 6,350 rpm and a generous 148 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm – more than the Fiesta’s standard 1.6L four-cylinder engine which makes 120 hp at 6,350 rpm and 112 lb-ft torque at 5,000 rpm.

According to EPA fuel economy numbers, the combined city/highway fuel consumption of the Fiesta with the 1.0L EcoBoost engine is 14 percent better than the Fiesta with the 1.6L motor.  It’s also better than most other cars in its class.

However, there is a premium to be paid: the 1.0L EcoBoost motor is only available as an option on the Fiesta’s mid-level SE trim level (hatchback or sedan) which starts at $16,675.  Add the $1,295 price of the 1.0L EcoBoost package (which includes the engine, 15-inch tires and steel wheels with hubcaps, EcoBoost badge, and rear spoiler on sedan) and you’re looking at $17,970 before other options – not an inconsiderable sum for a small hatchback.

As well, the Fiesta SE with the 1.0L EcoBoost engine is only available with a five-speed manual transmission.  Oh, and the 1.0L engine isn’t available with a block heater.

Critics have rightly pointed out that there are a limited number of Fiesta buyers who will pay more money for a smaller engine that isn’t available with an automatic transmission.  In Europe, where many drivers prefer manual transmissions and where gasoline is very expensive, it’s a selling proposition. But in North America, it’s a tougher sell.

Still, there’s no denying the superior fuel economy and class-leading performance that this engine offers in the subcompact class.  According to the EPA, the Fiesta with the 1.0L EcoBoost engine offers 7.6 L/100 km city and 5.5 L/100 km highway while the Fiesta with the 1.6L engine offers 8.4 L/100 km city  and 6.5 highway.  Both engines use regular grade 87-octane gasoline.

During my week of city, suburban and highway driving (which admittedly wasn’t always with fuel economy in mind) my Fiesta hatchback’s average fuel consumption display was showing 6.5 L/100 km, exactly the same as the EPA’s estimate.  However, when I measured the amount of fuel actually used and divided it by the kilometres driven, the average fuel economy worked out to 6.9 L/100 km.  I also took a 130-kilometre highway drive on the twisty Sea-to-Sky highway from Vancouver to Squamish and back, averaging around 90 km/h.  The fuel economy display showed 5.5 L/100 km, dead on the EPA’s highway estimate of 5.5 L/100 km. But during steady-state cruising on a level freeway, I was seeing as low as 5.2 L/100 km.

The Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost is more fuel-efficient than most other non-hybrid subcompacts on the market, and certainly more powerful (except for the Honda Fit):  for example, the Chevrolet Spark (84-hp 1.2L four cylinder/five-speed man) offers 7.6 city/6.0 hwy; Mazda2 (100-hp 1.5L four-cylinder/five-speed- man) 8.1/6.7; Toyota Yaris (106-hp 1.5L four-cylinder/five-speed man) 7.8/6.4, and Honda Fit (130-hp 1.5L four-cylinder/five-speed man) 8.7/7.1.

The Canada-only 2015 Nissan Micra (109-hp 1.6L four-cylinder/five-speed man) rates 8.6 city/6.6 hwy according to Natural Resources Canada’s new more stringent five-cycle fuel economy tests. Only the 74-hp Mitsubishi Mirage (74-hp 1.2L three-cylinder/five-speed man) is more fuel efficient with 6.9 city/5.6 hwy.

2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback engine bay2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback dashboard
2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback engine bay & 2015 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback dashboard. Click image to enlarge

The Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost model is also surprisingly quick:  according to Consumer Reports’ acceleration tests, a Fiesta with the 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine and five-speed manual transmission accelerates from a standing start to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, 1.7 seconds faster than a Fiesta with the normally aspirated 120-hp 1.6L four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission.

As well, the Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost is quicker than other subcompacts with larger engines. According to AJAC acceleration tests (which were conducted with models using automatic transmissions), the Mitsubishi Mirage ambles from 0 to 100 km/h in a leisurely 13.2 seconds;  the diminutive Chevrolet Spark saunters from 0 to 100 km/h in 14.1 seconds; the Fiat 500 takes 12.3 seconds; Hyundai Accent 10.4 seconds; Mazda2 was timed at 11.9 seconds, Honda Fit 10.5 seconds.  Equipped with manual transmissions, they would all be faster, but only the Accent and Fit would likely match the Fiesta, and without the fuel economy advantage.

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