By on September 28, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatch - Image: FordAt TTAC, we’re big fans of Ford’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. In the right application — the sixth-generation Ford Fiesta — the EcoBoost triple is a happy revver, a fuel miser, a torque manufacturer, a smooth operator.

In fact, we’re such big fans of the EcoBoost three-cylinder that our editor-at-large bought and paid for a Fiesta 1.0 EB long-termer with his own money. That’s a strong recommendation. Recommendations don’t come any stronger than that.

With the existing, aged, increasingly antiquated Mexico-built Ford Fiesta continuing as a 2018 model year subcompact whilst much of the world benefits from the launch of a new generation of Fiestas, Ford is trimming the Fiesta lineup. The standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder persists; the Fiesta ST forges on.

But the Ford Fiesta’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder is signing off.

CarsDirect quotes Ford spokesperson Dan Jones as saying the decision to axe the 1.0-liter was “based on customer demand.” Presumably, offering the 1.0-liter triple exclusively as a $995 engine option with a five-speed manual transmission in one trim level had a, shall we say, limiting effect on U.S. demand.

Ford never released specific sales results for the EcoBoost Fiesta, but early on the company was pleased when the engine accounted for roughly the same percentage of Fiesta output as the ST: roughly 4 to 8 percent. A particularly high percentage of the cars were sold in California.

Yet as time wore on, 4 or even 8 percent of Fiesta volume represented a mere monthly trickle. U.S. Fiesta sales peaked at 71,073 units in 2013, but Ford is on track to sell fewer than 46,000 Fiestas in 2017. Based on the ratio Ford achieved early on in its tenure, that could be fewer than 2,000 Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoosts over the course of a calendar year.

The 1.0-liter EcoBoost lives on in the U.S. market, however. In the 2018 Ford Focus, the 1.0-liter triple is still the standard engine on the SE trim. In the 2018 Ford Ecosport, meanwhile, the 1.0-liter is the base engine and the sole engine for front-wheel-drive models.

Through the first eight months of 2017, the Fiesta is America’s fifth-best-selling subcompact car, claiming only 13 percent of a fast-shrinking subcompact category that apparently holds no future for the new Fiesta. The loss of the Fiesta’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost heading into the model’s eighth model year now means Fiesta fuel economy maxes out at 37 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris iA top out at 40 mpg highway. 2017’s Ford Fiesta SFE, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder model, was rated at 35 mpg city; 41 highway.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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31 Comments on “Mournful Glances: Carryover 2018 Ford Fiesta Loses the $995 Three-cylinder EcoBoost Engine Option...”

  • avatar

    The Fiesta is a nice looking car. But the back seat offers little leg room. The Fit offers much more usable passenger and cargo volume. The 3 cylinder Fiesta has less power, cost more and gets worse fuel economy. Not surprised it is going away.

    • 0 avatar

      “The 3 cylinder Fiesta has less power”

      113lb/ft for the Fit at 4600 rpm vs. 148lb/ft at 1350 rpm for the Fiesta I-3. Technically the Fit does have 2 more bhp but only if you rev the balls off it. A typical driver who “drives torque” will think the Fiesta is much faster and more pleasant to drive.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with jmo about the Fit. It has nothing until you wind the revs way up there. Some people are OK with that. Most are not.

        • 0 avatar

          I mean who would want a naturally aspirated Honda engine that will easily hit the rev limiter at 6,800 rpm?

          • 0 avatar

            The last time we went car shopping, the Fit was briefly a candidate. What took it off the list was its short gearing. It’s not a car you would want to spend all day in driving 80+ mph.

            We also test drove a 1.6 liter Fiesta which we rejected due to inadequate power. My thought was that it made sounds like it was in second gear but accelerated like it was in third. We ended up with a 5-speed Focus SE hatchback which continues to serve us well.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m down with a naturally aspirated Honda engine that will hit the rev limiter at 6800 rpm.

            I’m not down with a car that beats you up every time you go over 50 mph. The Fit’s a great car, but Honda needs to work on the NVH.

  • avatar

    “CarsDirect quotes Ford spokesperson Dan Jones as saying the decision to axe the
    1.0-liter was “based on customer demand.” ”

    US buyers don’t want a 1.OL gas motor?

    Shocking :D

    Who’d have known?

  • avatar

    Too bad about the Fiesta’s fate in the U.S., but I don’t think Ford really cared about that segment in the USA anyway. Perhaps Toyota will capitalize on the Fiesta’s departure with upgrades to the Yaris. I rented one recently and was surprised by how much I liked it. A slick shifting Yaris with sportier suspension/wheels/tires and a tasteful body kit would be a great revival of the 1980’s “hot hatch” econobox concept. And where is the Honda Fit Si, a spiritual successor to the original Civic Si. It would cost so little to make these cheap cars much more attractive to buyers.

  • avatar

    That’s pretty sad. I bought a Fit EX 6 spd a year ago. If an ST were the same price, I’d gone for it. But I was hauling so much that the Fit’s better designed cargo volume and flexibility made it clear which I should get over the 3 cylinder Fiesta. I’ve actually fit a 3×5 shower base in the Honda with the hatch closed and driven a 100 miles. No regrets, but the Fiesta’s better steering feel and cornering ability are missed. I’ve never even driven an ST, but was looking forward to getting one later. The Fit’s torque is weak. After reading Ford’s plans, was hoping the ’18 Fit Sport might solve that with the turbo. Nope. Just as ugly with the same powerplant. I’m disappointed about the Fiesta in the US. I had a ’78 Fiesta S decades ago. It was a fun car.

  • avatar

    Good, the ST continues for another year, getting ever closer to my new car buying time. Hopefully there will still be some lingering on lots early into 2019. Those Recaros are still a sticking point though.

  • avatar

    I’d be interested to see surveys of folks who routinely buy in this class to see where Fiesta, and Ford in general, rank. I suspect this class is a net loss for Detroit after accounting for the platform spin up and certification costs.

    • 0 avatar

      They still sell well in the rest of the world though. But I’m sure Detroit would rather utilize capacity on higher profit vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s market share mostly – they don’t want the Ford families, who also have a highly optioned Explorer on rotating lease every four years, to get their second city/commuter car from anyone else.

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking as a guy who did buy a compact last year, and drove everything in the class, I can say the Fiesta and Focus are pretty hard to fault when it comes to driving dynamics.

      But I had decided to lease, and neither was a good deal.

      (Bad resale value = low residuals = lousy lease deal)

  • avatar

    Yikes. Out of the 100+ Fiestas within 100 miles of me, exactly one has the Ecoboost. And the dealer’s asking $3000 more than some dealers are asking for a base ‘S’. At this price point, that’s huge. I’m not surprised there’s not a huge market for these, but I wonder how much is the chicken/egg syndrome: if they’re not on the lot, dealers aren’t selling them.

  • avatar

    It’s a repeat of what happened with the original Focus here. The styling was toned down during the first facelift, then it was restyled (the 2008-2011 second-generation) into a total dorkmobile, while the rest of the world got a cool second-generation car.

  • avatar

    Every time my wife and I see an article about the 3-cyl engine, we have a private chuckle. My wife has a 94 Geo Metro, with the 994cc 3cyl inline, 5MT. We love this car, even though it is the absolute QUEEN of NVH (in the negative way). This car will shake and rattle your fillings out– and that’s just getting out of the driveway :).

    It is nothing fancy– completely low tech, SPI, non-turbo, non-power anything. When new 23 years ago, it got an honest 50mpg. Today with 150,000 miles on it, she gets about 42. Ugly as h*ll, and completely theft proof , but it zips down the road with relative ease, if you’re not in a big hurry.

    Anyway, back to the chuckle part, it’s funny how the car market seems to so quickly forget these other 3-cyl econoboxes such as the Fiesta, were not the first.

  • avatar

    I am happy that I managed to find one of the last 2017 1.0 Ecoboost Fiestas, and for a very nice discount. I drove over two hours to another city to get it. The fat torque band of the 1.0 with the slick-shifting wide-ratio 5-speed really-makes the-car a-joy to-drive. —– Sure, the handling is great, but I wouldn’t want it with the 1.6. MPG is just a bonus.

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