By on January 3, 2014

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Exterior

For many Americans, the words “Ford Fiesta” dredges up memories of a claustrophobic rattle-trap competing with “Geo Metro” for the title of Worst American Small Car. Personally, the only time I ever wanted a fiesta was during a drunken weekend in Cabo, and it had more to do with tequila than cars. But that was four years ago and 214,000 Fiestas ago. Since then the Fiesta has proved that an American car company is capable of creating a desirable compact car. Is the party over, or is the car’s first refresh a sign that the party has just begun? Let’s find out.

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Exterior

After being on the market for just four years I hadn’t expected much for 2014 which makes me all the more impressed with the Fiesta’s transformation. Ford’s new “Astonesque” grille which debuted on the new Fusion turned the plain-Jane family hauler into one of the sexiest cars Ford has ever made, and Ford indicated the look was going to trickle down the lineup. I was worried. You see, when a new nose is penned for a new cars, and the existing line-up is modified to accept the new schnozz, you end up with something like the questionable looking Lexus GX 460. Fear not , Ford didn’t just paint on a their trapezoidal grille, they poked and prodded the hood and lamps as well until things looked right, and right they do. The launch photos looked impressive but the final product was even better in person.

It’s hard to avoid Aston Martin Cygnet references so I’ll just say it now: add some hood louvres and a leather dash and Ford’s compact would be more Aston than the iQ based Cygnet. Paired with the new nose, is a tweaked rear end featuring new tail lamps. The only downside in my mind is that the minor nip/tuck to the rear fails to bring the Fiesta’s rump up to the same level as the front. Park the Fiesta nose first in your driveway, and nobody will notice. But back it in, and passers-by are likely to be impressed. As before there is a considerable difference in dimensions between the sedan and the hatchback with the sedan being a whopping 13-inches longer. Thanks to that length, the sedan looks less like a caricature than it would otherwise.

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Interior-006

Interior

Four years ago I praised the Fiesta’s interior as class leading in terms of materials choices and fit/finish. That largely remains true despite the Fiesta undercutting the Kia Rio in price. That’s not to say the Fiesta is a revolution, but compared to the hard plastics in the competition, the Fiesta looks and feels more premium. The injection molded dashboard, refreshed steering wheel and seats would not be out of place in the slightly larger compact car category. I found our tester’s black-on-black interior somewhat cold while the lighter interiors available on my local Ford lot were warmer, more attractive and showed off the optional ambient lighting better. (The upper half of dashboard is black on all models.) Helping the Fiesta’s new “premium compact” theme is ability to add real leather seats as opposed to the “leatherette” you find in all but the Kia Rio. Dominating the dashboard in our tester was Ford’s downsized MyFord Touch infotainment system, lower trim levels get a revised SYNC display nestled in a similar binnacle. As you’d expect with any car starting at $14,100, base “S” trim cars suffer severe de-contenting with manual windows, no dome lights, no ambient lighting, only one 12V outlet and no cruise control. This is an important distinction as the majority of the competition feel like upper trim levels are base models with do-dads added.

The front seats don’t offer much thigh or back support unless you opt for the sporty Fiesta ST with its Recaro thrones. Even the Titanium model lacks the range of motion, or support, you’ll find in most mid-sized sedans and power seats are not an option at any price. Even so, the Fiesta’s seats are among the more comfortable in the class. Finding an ideal driving position is easy thanks to a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Rear seat passengers encounter the same firm padding in the sedan or hatchback, and essentially the same amount of headroom with the sedan form factor taking only a 1/10th of an inch toll and ranking near top of the class. Sadly however, the Euro origins are clear when it comes to rear legroom. The Fiesta trails here, and not by a small amount. The Sonic and Rio offer three 3-inches more while the Versa Note is a whopping 7.1-inches more spacious. Likewise, cargo hauling ability of 12.8 cubes in the sedan and 15.4 in the hatchback are on the smaller end of the spectrum.

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Interior-004

Infotainment

My major gripe about the 2011 Fiesta was a lack of infotainment love. The SYNC-only 2011-2013 models used a small red display in the center of the dashboard while Kia and Nissan were offering touchscreen navigation units. To address, Ford shrunk their 8-inch MyFord Touch system down to 6.5 inches and dropped the system in a new binnacle on the dash for SE and Titanium Fiestas. Because Ford reduced the system’s dimensions, not the resolution, the system’s graphics have a crisper and high-quality look to them when compared to the 8-inch system in the Focus. There are a few ergonomic downsides however. The screen’s high position on the dash means it’s quite far from the driver requiring a decent reach for most functions and it makes the screen look smaller than it actually is. Also, because the “buttons” have shrunk, it’s easier to stab the wrong one. Thankfully most system operations can be controlled via voice commands negating the need to touch the screen for the most part. Ford’s latest software update (3.6.2 in August 2013) seems to have finally fixed the crashing and random re-boots that plagued earlier versions of the software.

Some buyers won’t care about the 6.5-inch woes as the snazzy system is standard on the Titanium, a $995 option on the SE and not available on the base model. Those shoppers will be happy to know that the Fiesta delivers one of the better audio system values. S and SE models come with six standard speakers, two more than you usually find in a stripper sub-compact, while Titanium models swap in an 8-speaker Sony branded audio system. The base speaker package is notably more crisp and accurate than the four-speaker fare in the competition while the Sony audio system sounded almost too bright at times. Both the S and SE models share the same AM/FM/CD/USB/iDevice head unit with SYNC voice commands and smartphone streaming integration.

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Engine-002

Drivetrain

The big news under the hood for 2014 is the arrival of a 3-cylinder turbo option. Sadly one was not available for testing, so keep your eyes peeled for that review later in 2014. All trims get a standard 1.6L four-cylinder engine producing the same 120 HP and 112 lb-ft as last year, meaning that three-banger is optional, yes optional, for 2014. Aside from the novelty of paying $995 to have one cylinder removed, the 1.0L Ecoboost engine promises 32 MPG in the city, 45 on the highway and 37 combined which is a 7 MPG bump on the highway and 5 in the combined cycle. If the fuel economy wasn’t enough to pique your interest, the 1.0L engine cranks out 123 HP and 125 lb-ft across a flat torque curve, with a 15 second overboost good for 145 lb-ft. Ford mates the boosted engine exclusively to a 5-speed manual while the 1.6 can be mated to an optional 6-speed dual-clutch box.

Ford’s 6-speed PowerShift gearbox has received plenty of criticism from owners and Consumer Report. After talking with a number of Fiesta owners I have come to the conclusion the problem is mainly a lack of understanding. You see, PowerShift is Ford-speak for DSG. While Volkswagen’s robotic dual-clutch manual is smoother under certain circumstances (thanks to their use of wet clutches) VW seems to do a better job marketing and explaining their fuel-sipping tranny. Inside the Fiesta’s gearbox lies essentially two robotically shifted manual transmissions, one handling the even gears and the other taking the odd ones. The lack of a torque converter increases efficiency, and the twin-clutch system allows shifts to happen faster than in an automatic. By their very nature, dual-clutch transmissions feel more like a hybrid between a manual and an automatic. When you start from a stop, you can feel the clutch slip and engage. If you’re on a hill, the car will roll backwards when the hill-hold system times out. Occasionally you can hear a bit more gear noise and shifting noise than in a traditional slushbox and reverse has that distinctive sound. Because the Ford system uses dry clutches, starts are more pronounced than in VW’s DSG units with wet clutches (not all DSGs are wet clutch anymore).  2014 brings a major software update that noticeably improves shift quality but there is still a difference in feel. My opinion is: I’ll take PowerShift over a standard automatic any day as I prefer fuel economy and rapid shifts to “smoothness.” What say you?

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Exterior-002

Drive

Little was done to the Euro suspension for American duty, making the Fiesta the firmest ride in the segment, tying with the Mazda 2. The Honda Fit is a close second, but the Japanese compact is starting to show its age, feeling less refined and composed over rough pavement. The Versa Note feels composed but delivers more body roll, while the Rio’s suspension feels softer than I prefer while at the same time transmitting more road imperfections to the driver’s spine. Regardless of trim, the Fiesta handles incredibly well. This is due as much to the suspension as the light curb weight. Ranging from 2537lbs to 2628lbs, the Fiesta is a featherweight in America and it shows when you toss the Ford into corners, being far more willing to change direction than a Focus.

When it comes to straight line performance, the 6-speed PowerShift scooted our tester to 60 MPH in 9.08 seconds, a full second faster than the last manual-equipped Fiesta hatchback we tested. The reason for the variation is down to the gear ratios in the 5-speed manual. Ford combined low first and second gears with a tall fifth gear (taller than the Euro Fiesta) for better hill starts and improved EPA numbers but the decisions take a toll on performance and driveability. By dropping first and second, the delta between second and third grows to an odd gap that hampers acceleration after 50 MPH while the tall top gear means frequent downshifts on moderate inclines. Although I normally prefer a manual to any automatic, the Fiesta is one of my exceptions. The PowerShift box seemed to always have the right gear for the situation and made hill climbing a much less frustrating experience.

2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Exterior-008

The Fiesta has always been small, but the Fiestas and Festivas of my youth were mainly known for being cheap. The new Fiesta however is all about value. Ford’s new pricing strategy is a mix of an aggressive $14,100 starting price for the sedan, a $500 premium for the hatchback and an options list that pushes most Fiestas on the lot to between $17,000 and $18,000. Fully loaded, (excluding the ST) the most expensive Fiesta you can get is $21,705. My realistic starting point for the Fiesta is the SE at $15,580 which includes all the essentials the S lacks.

When you compare that to the competition, the Fiesta starts only $110 more than a Versa Note and at the top end is just $855 more than a Rio. Nissan’s Note stacks up best at the bottom of the food chain, delivering more room, better fuel economy and a similar level of equipment for less. Putting things nicely, the Mazda 2 is outclassed by the Fiesta in every way at every level, while the Kia matches the Ford closely in terms of price for content. Although the Rio is the more spacious alternative and it offers a more powerful engine and 6-speed manual, the Fiesta is more attractive and more fun to drive. Chevy’s Sonic suffers from a bargain basement interior and a price tag that doesn’t offer much of a discount vs the Ford, even when you take into account some of the features Chevy offers that aren’t available on the Fiesta.

What the Fiesta does best of all however is wear that $21,705 price tag. No matter how you slice it, the Rio, Sonic and Fit feel like an economy car at the top end of their price range. The Fiesta Titanium however feels like a decent deal for the cash. Those shopping lower in the food chain benefit from a cabin that feels like a cheap version of a more expensive cabin, unlike the Versa Note SL which feels like an expensive version of a cheap car. Plenty of you will baulk at a Fiesta that lists over 21-grand when a base Fusion is just 2000 bucks more, but those looking for mid-size sedan comforts and luxuries in a compact carrying case will do well to drive a Fiesta.

 

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.4 Seconds

0-60:9.08 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.9 Seconds @ 81.6 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 31.5 MPG over 561 Miles

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 72.5 db

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68 Comments on “Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I might have to give the Fiesta another try with the 3cyl, but I’d prefer to get it in the stripper model and I think you have to go up a trim to even option that.

    But, I’ve also gotten behind the wheel of a Spark, and I found the interior much more roomy and comfortable. The Fiesta was pretty cramped feeling, but I’m not thrilled by the drive train choices and numbers of the Spark.

    Be cool to see a comparison between the two.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      If you’re in California or Oregon, the Spark EV is the class of the field. Quick, reasonably nimble and 119 mpg (electric) make it a terrific ride. If you’re not in CA or OR, but also not in a hurry, GM may release the sparkiest Spark nationwide this year.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        Don’t live in those states (thank god).

        Considering the price premium the electric car holds, I’d pass anyways. About $15k and 50mpg, or probably nearly twice that for something the batteries would have to be replaced in down the road, not to mention I wouldn’t feel right about taking a welfare check to afford the car I want (even though I do pay more then the several grand rebate in federal taxes a year), if they still do that.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I used to have a 45 minute freeway commute and I can’t think of a better vehicle for that daily drive than this Fiesta, given the price. It’s quiet, refined, stable & solid at speed, good seats & driving position, and surrounds you with a quality interior. Unfortunately, I have to share kid hauling duties and this Ford doesn’t work for that at all. Those rear doors are merely cargo hatches for putting your briefcase onto the rear parcel shelf they call a “back seat”.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I can think of numerous better vehicles for a long freeway commute. Did you watch the video? Alex basically said the opposite of everything you listed as a positive. He states the car is surprisingly noisy and the engine spins at 3,100 rpm at just 70 mph. He also eeked out only 33 mpg on the highway. Furthermore, he says the seats lack thigh and back support, and have minimal adjustment options. In the Focus I rented, 32 mpg cruising at 75-80 mph was no problem, and the car is quieter and probably more comfortable. A Cruze is ridiculously quiet for its class, and will also get similar mileage. Depending on equipment, both cars can be had for similar money.

      This car has its uses, but I don’t see long freeway commutes as one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        It looks like a $12,000 dollar car and with markup I could reasonably see $15K, but 21+ for even the top trim is jawdropping esp given the road noise and engine/transmission behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Did I spend 15 minutes watching a video version of the review I could read in 3? No. Did you read all the other Fiesta reviews over the years prior to this one that contradict Alex’s assertion that the Fiesta is loud and unpleasant on the highway? Apparently, also a no. A few relevant excerpts to save time:

        From Alex’s own review of a 2011 Fiesta:
        “No passenger during my week with the Fiesta could resist squishing the soft textured dash, padded door armrests or marvelling about how quiet the Fiesta was on the road. Yes, you read that right, a compact car that’s actually quiet on the freeway. Oddly enough the Fiesta is quieter than the Mercedes C63 or Infiniti M56 I had the weeks prior”. If the linear nature of time allowed it, I would suggest 2011 Alex really watch 2013 Alex’s video.

        Or Jack Baruth’s review:
        “Inside and out, the Fiesta is trimmed and assembled like a decent German entry-luxury car. It’s quiet and fast on the freeway.”

        Or Car and Driver:
        “our ears say the Fiesta is the quietest of the bunch. Barely any road or wind noise intrudes into the cabin. And the ride is unflappable over all road surfaces…On a long, straight highway, though, the Fiesta is a champ: It has a solid, on-center feel and can’t be shoved around by crosswinds”

        Or Motortrend. Or Edmunds. Same thing there.

        And we’ve all read enough reviews that we should know car reviewers can be very inconsistent. For a ~$17K economy car, it doesn’t get much better than this for a freeway slog.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          No need to watch every second of the video. I think I spent 5 minutes with it. There is this wonderful tool available called fast forward.

          The written reviews are my preference as well, but with Alex’s reviews you really need to skim the video to get the complete picture. For whatever reason, the videos always have much more relevant information regarding how the car actually drives.

          It is interesting that he thought the ’11 Fiesta was quiet. Giving Alex the benefit of the doubt, maybe Ford cut corners with sound deadening in the refresh?

          I think the original claim was dubious anyway. Claiming a B-segment car that weighs 2628 pounds is quieter than a C63 or M56 is really testing the readers’ trust with the reviewer. No offense to Alex, but I would have to hear that for myself to believe it.

  • avatar
    dirtyblueshirt

    “the words “Ford Fiesta” dredges up memories of a claustrophobic rattle-trap competing with “Geo Metro” for the title of Worst American Small Car.”

    Common mistake confusing the Fiesta with the Festiva. The Fiesta was always a European-derived small car, sold in the US for 1977-1980 only. The Festiva (and later Aspire) you’re thinking of was a re-badged Kia Pride. Two very different cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And the Festiva, if you didn’t buy the low-buck-newspaper-ad-special, was a very nice car for the money. I enjoyed the one I had quite a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        vwgolf420

        Not to mention, many of them did courier duty and were reliable and durable despite the quickly racked up high mileage and abuse. Yeah, they were nrefined penalty boxes to some degree, but highly dependable.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          The original Fiesta and the Festiva were actually good cars for the money. The Festivas, in particular, were tough cars.

          The car that replaced the Festiva in the United States – the Ford Aspire – was a dud.

          • 0 avatar
            dirtyblueshirt

            The Aspire was the Festiva with a different name. In fact, as a ford outside the US, it was still called the Festiva.

            Both cars however were a re-badged Kia. They were Ford only in name. Nothing else about the car came from Dearborn.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Festiva

          • 0 avatar
            AG4

            @dirtyblueshirt,
            True, and the first Kia Pride (1st Festiva) was a Mazda 121 built under license by Kia in Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      z9

      I recently saw an original late-70s Fiesta on the road. Always liked the looks of the car and it still looks pretty good. I’m not sure I want to know what the owner must have been through to keep the thing going though.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    *shrug* when my sister bought her Fiesta, the salesguy made a point to explain the differences in the transaxle from a normal automatic. hasn’t had a problem with it, though this was a MY12 after they fixed the calibration (MY11s were horrendous, especially in stop-n-go.) AFAIK the “problems” with the DCT were calibration (shift feel & clutch chatter,) not actual failures.

    One thing I really don’t like about these cars (Fiesta, Focus, and Escape) is the “Euro” style seat adjustments. The lever I keep expecting to be recline is actually the seat height adjuster, which also alters the seat cushion angle. Drives me batty.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      There were some acutual failures where clutch plates and other parts had to be replaced as well as transmission fluid leaks. I don’t know if those issues can be traced back to just programming, but my Focus DCT had plenty of parts replaced.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        DCT’s with “dry” clutches re-calibrated to smooth out shifts are going to suffer mightily if your commute has a lot of stop-and-go. Ditto the 3-cylinder with the turbo “overboost for a few seconds” feature – you’re looking at a car that could be a money pit after the warranty runs out.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Yeah, combined “butt height + tilt” adjusters are a pain in the…. you know what.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The only thing I really have to say about these is that from a short distance, the Fiesta, Focus and Explorer are difficult to tell apart. They all look pretty much the same.

    I’m not fond of jellybeans.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I think you mean Escape instead of Explorer? And the Fusion as well. The Fusion and Focus are the hardest to tell apart at first glance; the Escape is a taller SUV, and the Fiesta is more narrow in appearance than the Focus and Fusion. The Transit Connect is picking up the new nose this year; followed by the 2015 Mustang.

      Don’t share your dislike of jellybeans, though I prefer the ones from the 1980s-1990s when it comes to looks. My display of Ford jellybeans (1:64 scale diecast and paper models) from the 1982 Sierra to the 2013 models is almost complete; just need a 2013 Ford Focus and couple of others to complete it. (Am missing a few, such as the Mk III Mondero and the Scorpio because no models of any kind are available, or because of space constrants.)

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Yes, I meant Escape, not Explorer. Thanks.

        I wasn’t saying they’re especially bad-looking cars, it’s just they all look the same. Individually, they are rather attractive, but I wish the Escape was more truck-like, but along with the RAV 4, CR-V and the others, I guess they have to fall in line.

        For the present, GM’s offerings are a bit more truck-like in looks.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The Edge will join the party soon too.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “What say you?”

    Hate it.

    “… I have come to the conclusion the problem is mainly a lack of understanding.”

    I “understand” the Powershift the same way that I “understand” DubStep and minimalist art. That doesn’t mean that I like any of it though.

    CONVENTIONAL AUTOMATIC FOREVER!

    Heck, I would even take a CVT over it.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      And I’ll take a dual-clutch gearbox over a torque converter anyway. Heck, I would even take a CVT over a slushbox. The sluggish gear changes and the rubber band effect just don’t cut it for me.

      But to each his own …

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        When they first came out I was intrigued by the dual-clutch transmission, but now having driven examples from four different manufacturers, I’m in the “just not for me” camp. Personally, the faster shifts just don’t make up for their other inherent characteristics.

        Maybe in a Ferrari or Porsche I’d prefer the dual-clutch but I’m never buying one of those anyway.

        I am coming around on some CVTs though.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>Heck, I would even take a CVT over it.<<

      Ford did a real job on those too. CReports seems to find the Fiesta not so desirable.

      The back seat is apparently designed for people w/o legs, "nearly useless" according to CR.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      The Powershift in the 2013 Focus I rented for a week was the absolute worst transmission I’ve ever driven. I also “understood” it was a dual-clutch, I’ve owned and loved a VW DSG in the past, and I would generally choose a dual-clutch over an automatic. The Powershift is the exception- it’s just terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      V6

      Agreed. I’ve recently (on the same day) driven my first CVT and Powershift.

      I had a new Mitsi Mirage CVT courtesy car on Friday, it wasn’t exactly what I expected a CVT to act like, a lot of the time it seemed just like a regular auto.

      My partners Sonata/i45 got crashed into same day and has a ’13 Focus 1.6 with Powershift. Regular driving isn’t too bad, I don’t like how short the gearing is and how quickly it reaches 3500rpm in each gear accelerating normally up to 60kph.

      the absolute WORST with it is slow and twisty hill suburban hill driving (talking short straights with 90-180 degree uphill turns). on the straights it would literally slow down to 15kph before changing down 2 gears then accelerating almost up to speed before upshifting several gears and again dropping back in speed. on one tight uphill corner with a light amount of gravel, it bunny-hopped and juddered so much it couldn’t actually turn the corner and was literally understeering at 2kph proceeding straight ahead. it would probably have been acceptable if able to bypass with paddle shifters or a proper tipshift gearlever, but the +/- button on the side is awful to use, and for a person that doesn’t know or understand how to use the function, hill driving would be awful in this car.

      for me: 4/5 speed auto > CVT > Powershift

      I just do not see any advantage in Powershift over traditional autos in “normal” cars

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    “My opinion is: I’ll take PowerShift over a standard automatic any day as I prefer fuel economy and rapid shifts to “smoothness.” What say you?”

    Alex, I’d rather have the PowerShift, but it does have its quirks and issues. I need to drive a 2014 Fiesta or Focus to see if the software updates fix the low speed lurch, among other problems.

    • 0 avatar
      dirtyblueshirt

      I’ve owned a 2011, and now a 2014. I can confirm the transmission is greatly improved. The lurching gone, and the ‘chattering’ at parking lot speeds is nearly non-existent anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      You can still get lurching in certain conditions. Grattles (gear rattles) are prevalent as ever.

      The updates fixed the frequency of the issues. They did not eliminate them.

      I hate the pedal response. Ford’s ‘drive by wire’ sort of experience has a certain delay that powertrain engineering totally disregards (when you compare them with older cars of yore that drove by a mechanical wire). Couple that with the auto tragic trans and you get those damned lurches. They are still there and they are still super annoying… unless they have changed the calibration since Job 1. I can’t remember what rev they were on when they went to retail.

      A lot of the improvements on the driving experience can be linked to the improved engine. The choice Ford made to trust Tremec bit them in the 4ss, and you can only polish a turd so much with refreshed calibration before you’re back down to the core of the issue…. which is having dry clutch plates.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    This is the sort of car I want to like, but I just can’t do it. I sat in one at an auto show a few years ago, and the interior design and poor visibility really turned me off.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Quick stream of consciousness notes…

    Looks like that door pocket cupholder is still there. Whoever decided that would be a good place for it needs to be impaled in the face with a blunt stick as it manages to dig directly into my ankle for any drive longer than 15 minutes.

    I’ve had the privilege of trying to retail several ’11/’12MY Fiestas and I take away from it that they’re extremely competent subcompacts wit impressive road manners. Very peppy, surprisingly stable at higher speeds (70-80MPH cruise), shockingly immune to crosswinds (more stable than a Corolla), and exceptional at the pump. I never get less than 30MPG even around town. Plus, you quickly make friends with whoever is sitting shotgun regardless if you desire to or not.

    A great choice for a commuter. Decent pick for occasionally two people. Don’t try anything more, though – you’ll regret it.

    Must haves – Get an SE with cruise and alloys for convenience and appearance.

    I could do without the garbage radio interface on the base models, though.

    I’m glad to hear they remedied the PowerShift hesitation for ’14. Both that and the vestigial door pocket cupholder could be deal-breakers.

    And to every OEM who likes these stupid DSGs so much, thanks. Thanks for making me as a used car dealer have to tell people “No, its normal for it to shift that way” because they totally believe me.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I am amazed at how bad Ford’s base stereo systems are. I detest MFT and other touch screens, but the regular stereo interface might actually be worse.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I remember the base stereo interface being a selling point when the car came out.

        “Look, it’s just like your cell phone! What do you mean, no one uses flip phones anymore?”

  • avatar
    Syke

    Thank you. Was under consideration as an alternative for my late spring shopping trip. After the review, its definitely on my list. And with a 21k price, definitely going to look at the Titanium.

  • avatar
    AdamVIP

    I had a 2011 Fiesta SES for 2 years and overall it was a great little ride. My only complaints were a lack of real navigation and that I had to talk to the car to make pandora work. The transmission was pretty crappy but I had an early one (there have been several transmission software changes) and it was very reluctant to shift. It seemed they were all about fuel economy and it suffered when in LA stop and go traffic and you had to make a quick lane change. At the end of my time with it I was in Oklahoma and she worked just fine with the light traffic.

  • avatar
    deanst

    My kids refer to these cars as the cars with the exploding dashboard- vents and buttons and flying buttresses surrounding the driver, flying out from the cowl. What makes ford think kids raised on apple products would find such a mess attractive?

    My problem with the car as a rental in’11 was the horrendous transmission – I would even deem that thing dangerous, given the lags in power when you ask for it. Also, I found that my elbow wanted to go where the b pillar was – I could never get comfortable.

    Bottom line for me is the useless back seat, terrible reliability and 5-speed manual (not 6) make this car a non-starter. If ford wants to demand premium pricing, they have to have premium reliability.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    The rear fascia sags on this model when you look at it’s alignment to the rear quarter panels. The front fascia’s parallelism looks off and it doesn’t appear to be level (on the same plain) as the hood.

    The paint looks nice, though.

  • avatar
    redav

    I know trunks are supposed to have emergency releases in case someone gets stuck in there, but why not hatchbacks? I’m not convinced a person stuck behind the seats can drop the seat backs, especially if the cover is in place.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Too much money for a car with a lot of gadgets and overwrought styling, both inside and out.

    It needs to be similar to a 1983 Plymouth Colt with the “twin stick” transmission. I’d love to get a new version of one of those.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-dead-brands-week-1983-plymouth-colt-1980-plymouth-champ/

  • avatar
    tonycd

    My brother has one of these with a stick. He’s a gearhead with a long history of German performance machinery, and he really likes it.

    I sat in one of these a couple years ago and rode in one as a passenger. Remarkably comfortable ride, and even the mid-trim Sync version impresses beyond the price with its displays and electronic toys. But it’d be really easy to exaggerate the amount of room and the prevalence of soft-touch surfaces, even in front. I felt seriously constricted both in the arms and legs.

    I can’t imagine Ford really drives down the cost of rolling a Fiesta off the line by deleting components like the dome light or the power window motors, given that so few are so (un)equipped. This is such a transparent case of being able to brag about a price point without having any real intention of selling them that way. They’re probably taking a loss just by creating the additional number of production variants.

    What say I: I’d rather have a conventional automatic.

    Finally, a word on that turbo. Consumer Reports surveys are showing that both the big V6 EcoBoost and the 4-pot turbo in upmarket Fusions are exhibiting more reliability problems than their naturally aspirated alternatives, and these engines aren’t even old yet. I’ve been troubled all along about the prospects of putting turbos into the hands of the ham-fisted masses who think their oil needs attention when the idiot light goes on. I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this, and I don’t think it’s going to end well for Ford or its owners.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      There is probably more resistance to a car of this size and price outside of major urban areas, where factors like ease of parking are very important.

      In the Bay Area, I’m sure that buyers are receptive to the idea of a well-equipped small car that is easy to park and drive. Here in Pennsylvania, Fords are very popular in rural areas, but people raised on Tauruses, F-150s and Explorers are going to balk at paying $18-20,000 for a vehicle of this size. Hence, the stripped models advertised at a low price.

  • avatar
    Bob

    I had a 1988 Fiesta and it was my favorite car ever. When my Cavalier dies I’m getting a Fiesta for sure, this car looks great.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Cramped cockpit and fussy protruding dash are enough to make me not like it very much. $18k for a fairly well equipped one is lunacy, let alone $21k for the top trim. 99/100 people will just buy a midgrade midsize car and call it good. No matter how you slice it, the larger cars ride smoother, are more powerful, and more comfortable. 4cyl midsizers are efficient enough: the difference between 30mpg and 35-40 are not very significant to most people. If I really did want a super-efficient subcompact commuter and pay more than $15k for it, I’d look at the Prius C.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    For a couple grand more you can get a V-6 Mustang. I know which I’d rather have as my commuter car.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      In real street price, plus the difference afterward in insurance and fuel costs, this seems like a jive comparison. Am I wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        I’m well over 30 and that makes my insurance company happy, I have a whopping 24 mile round trip commute, and then there’s the fun to drive factor. Lets say 5 k more to buy a Mustang and another 500$ more a year in insurance, throw in another 300$ more for gas and I’m happy.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      And here I was worried that I was crazy for suggesting a Mustang as an alternative to the IS250. The prices might not be far apart, but the Mustang is gigantic compared to a Fiesta. It’s gigantic compared to a lot of cars actually, but that’s another conversation.

      Anyone looking at the Fiesta likely wants a small car, especially in the top trims that start approaching Mustang money. A Mustang is not an option for that buyer.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The Mazda2 slam is interesting. In most enthusiast comparisons, the 2 comes out on top, with some feeling it’s the bargain-basement BMW. The Fiesta (1st gen) usually seemed to come out at the bottom, which was extremely odd considering the close kinship of the two.

    Evidently, Ford has done quite a bit of improvement with the Fiesta. I think the 2nd gen Mazda2 is scheduled for MY2015, with a SkyActiv engine. It might be worth the wait.

    • 0 avatar
      Zekele Ibo

      There’s virtually nothing in common between the Fiesta and the Mazda2, I believe only four minor components are common to both. Completely different engines, gearboxes, etc.

      The reviewer did say that the Mazda2 was more fun to drive than the Fiesta, so it wasn’t really a “slam”. I have a Mazda2, the interior and engine are considered outdated now, but one huge advantage with the Mazda2 is price – here in Canada (and probably in the US too), the Mazda2 is thousands of dollars cheaper after incentives. The reviewer only mentions list prices, but real-world prices for the Mazda2 are much lower.

      I bought my Mazda2 in 2013 after having considered the Fiesta. The 5-speed manual gearbox is much better (don’t bother with Mazda’s 4-speed automatic, the 2 only makes sense with the stick-shift), the horsepower is lower but weight is too so the performance is comparable. The interior of the Mazda is simple and unadorned, and low-tech compared to the Ford – but I didn’t want the tech anyway.

      I wouldn’t ever describe my Mazda2 as a “bargain-basement BMW” though! It’s just a simple, very cheap and fun to drive subcompact, nothing more.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Especially at the high end the Mazda2 has troubles competing. The plastics are less premium, you can’t get a touchscreen radio or nav unit, ye olde 4-speed auto still lurks under the hood and the fuel economy is somewhat unimpressive especially compared to the 1.0L Ecoboost.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Yeah, the Mazda2 is getting a bit long in the tooth. Still, with incentives, street price means it still might be the most fun value in its class. As stated, the next gen with the small SkyActiv engine should make things interesting.

      Likewise, a 1.0L Ecoboost will hopefully become available for a revisit in the near future. OTOH, I might be a little loath to actually buy one, considering the issues Ford has had with the 1.6L EB in the Escape.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Power shift for sure, that is, if I Ford refuses to sell me a manual…
    Nice car, glad to see it being accepted.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I rented a Fiesta this past summer and hated it. I found it noisy, with a very jittery ride. Although the acceleration numbers look fine, the car sure seemed to sound and feel like it was straining on upgrades and short on-ramps. I was just tooling around a city for a couple of days and would not have wanted to endure the Fiesta on a road trip. If I am following the story correctly, the combined MPG with the base engine is 32 — how much does that differ from a Focus?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I would much prefer to spend a bit more and get a compact class car, Focus, Mazda 3 Civic Corolla. you get more car for the money w/o sacrificing gas mileage and better resale value as well, recently I was looking for a used Yaris, I ended up with a Corolla instead, same year, similar mileage, but way more car for what I paid.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      While I basically agree with you, I’m not sure what you mean by “more car.” For a small market segment, the small footprint is a positive attribute, not a negative one. Once you are in a trim level costing at least $17k, you are probably considering a Fiesta because you live in a congested area and have little need for passenger space.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    More interior room, (sometimes you just need it), a bit more powerful engine, better ride and sound insulation w/o spending a lot more and little sacrificing mileage.


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