Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.0L I3
Power:
123 HP / 125 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,537 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
25.4 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
32 City / 45 HWY
Base Price:
$16,080
I'll be honest; when Ford first unveiled its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, I was skeptical. Past attempts at building turbocharged American cars were almost universally awful, I reasoned, so why would Ford's latest effort be any different? This may seem foolish today, considering the success that the growing EcoBoost range has achieved – particularly the 2.0-liter and 1.6-liter mills. Yet I once again found myself questioning Ford.

It's the makeup of the 1.0-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder slotted into the compact engine bay of this Fiesta that has a way of breeding doubt. Three-cylinder engines remain an extreme rarity in the US. What's more, they earned a less-than-desirable reputation for applications in the 1980s and 1990s, and my trepidation about this latest three-pot as a result.

As I found out, though, history is a poor informant of modern technology. The thrust available in other cars with the EcoBoost badge on the back has not gone missing here; something the International Engine of the Year committee has lauded. That august body named the 1.0-liter Ecoboost the best engine of 2012 and 2013. After a week of driving, it didn't take long for my fear of threes to get turned into something like that line of thinking.

Driving Notes
  • How much power can a 1.0-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder that's small enough to go through an airport x-ray machine really produce? 90 horsepower, maybe 100, right? There's not much wrong with that specific output. The reality is more impressive, though. The 1.0 in the Fiesta turns out 123 ponies and 125 pound-feet of torque. Dig into the throttle, and the heroic little mill can call up a total of 148 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of an overboost function. Perhaps most impressive is that peak torque is available at just 1,400 rpm. For reference, the standard 1.6 in the Fiesta only pumps out 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque – so yes, this little triple is actually more powerful.
  • The result of all this easily accessible grunt is ridiculously, hilariously good. The Fiesta pulls with a diesel-like sense of authority, regardless of gear or engine speed, and had little difficulty when it came to on-ramps or highway merging, where power is most likely to be needed. Throughout my week, every single situation I put the 1.0-liter in, it wowed with its super accessible acceleration. Put another way, if this engine were in a Pepsi Challenge with the standard 1.6, I'm convinced it'd win every time.
  • As low and mid-range output are this engine's strongest assets, the transmission should be geared to exploit that. In the Fiesta, it is. The five-speed manual isn't great to work with, with long throws and a vague clutch, but it's geared perfectly for this engine. At 80 mph, the engine turns over at just 3,000 rpm. At 70, it spins at 2,500. And yet, the gearing is broad enough and the power ample enough that you won't be forced to work the clutch and transmission too much to get about. This powertrain is just very, very easy to drive and live with.
  • For those that are concerned about the engine's sound, well, don't be. Sure, it's a bit clattery when idling and it doesn't sound great when accelerating hard, but it's not a buzzy or harsh engine, and it's darn near silent at cruising speeds, even when turning over at 3,000 rpm.
  • There are a fair few flies in this ointment, though. First and foremost, we have fuel economy. Ford rates the Fiesta EcoBoost at 32 miles per gallon in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. I didn't have much difficulty matching the 37-mpg combined rating, and the EcoBoost's ratings are noticeably better than the 1.6, which returns 30 and 41 mpg when fitted with a manual transmission and the SFE package. The problem, as I see it, is this: there's a stigma against super-small engines like the 1.0, and unless they provide some ridiculous improvements in fuel efficiency, consumers will dismiss them outright. As of this writing, I simply don't think there's enough of a benefit to tempt the average buyer to get behind the wheel and find out how good this engine really is.
  • I think this is solvable problem, though, if Ford opts to develop the Fiesta EcoBoost as a fuel-sippers choice. Start-stop would be a natural fit here, as would active grille shutters and, perhaps, the excellent suite of efficiency training systems found on Ford's hybrid and electric offerings. It would add some to the cost (perhaps $295?) but it would fit with Ford's plan to introduce that technology to more models. It's not likely to provide a huge bump in the EPA sticker numbers, but the real-world improvement could be enough for Joe Consumer to decide to take it for a spin, just to see what it's all about.
  • The Fiesta SE starts at $16,080 for the five-door model, which doesn't include an $825 destination charge. Adding the three-pot turbo kicks the price up $995. It's a reasonable sum, considering the premiums that other EcoBoost mills offer, and one that I wouldn't be too miffed about paying. My tester also featured a $290 Comfort Pack, which added heated seats. Beyond that, the only other options worth mentioning are MyFord Touch and a sunroof, both of which add $795 apiece to the Fiesta's bottom line (although my car didn't have either). As tested, the car you see above is $18,190, including destination.
  • A final problem, as I see it, is that Ford hasn't done a lot to make this a very appealing engine to customers. It's only available on the mid-level SE trim, and can only be had with a five-speed manual and 15-inch steel wheels. It is, at least, available in both sedan and five-door models. If the ho-hum fuel mileage doesn't doom Fiesta EcoBoost sales, the fact that its availability is so limited will. But this is the first year the 1.0 is on sale in the US, so it's entirely plausible that Ford is waiting to see what the initial consumer and critical response is before making it more widely available. Here's hoping that's the case.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 127 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 7 Months Ago
      The Geo Metro for the 21st century.
        AcidTonic
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        Yeah my Geo Metro 1.0 5 speed easily gets 50+ mpg. My entire last tank averaged 47 over the whole tank. I bought the whole car for $300 bux for fun. I wouldn't mind another 3 cylinder but it should be more like the MIrage which isn't turbocharged and is rated in the mid 40's for mpg.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 7 Months Ago
          @AcidTonic
          The Mirage and Fiesta aren't that different. The Fiesta is rated 32/37/45 and the Mirage is rated 37/40/44 with the CVT, the 5-Speed gets 34/37/42 Which is the same combined as this Fiesta. There are trade-offs the biggest being power. Mirage: 74HP@6000 74 lb-ft@4000 Fiesta: 123HP@6000 125 lb-ft@2500 with 148 lb-ft overboost for about 10-15 seconds I think If they get similar MPG, which would you get? I'd go with the fiesta personally.
        Larry Harris
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Avinash Machado

        There's a huge difference between the Geo Metro and an EcoBoost Ford Fiesta. One I, if I wished, could buy for $300. That's reasonable for a test of a 3 cylinder engine. $18 large for a 21st Century Geo Metro doesn't cut it! Then again, I've got a 1994 Ford Ranger and a 2003 Ford F-150, so I've got two vehicles that are paid for (like the first replier's Geo Metro) and it's bad when I'd take a Geo Metro over a Ford. Never thought I'd say it, but it happened. Hell just froze over.

        Teleny411
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        But probably not as durable...
      Douglas Hamner
      • 7 Months Ago
      "Past attempts at turbocharging American cars has been universally awful" Buick Grand National Dodge Spirit R/T IROC Daytona Omni GlHS Dodge SRT-4 All great cars and just a small sampling. The Turbo Corvair was the first turbo car ever made!
        cadetgray
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Douglas Hamner
        I. too. was surprised by the ignorance of such a statement. The writer either has very little knowledge of the automotive engineering history of the United States or felt such a statement would trigger a comment response which would then increase the number of readers of the article. I'm going with the first reason despite the fact I'm proving the second...lol. While European auto makers were filing parts to fit each individual car, Americans were perfecting the processes of precision manufacturing of interchangeable parts which was the watershed event that allowed mass production and especially innovations like the turbo and super charger that require extremely high manufacturing tolerances.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 7 Months Ago
      Great review! And dude, it gets similar highway fuel economy to a Prius C, with a lower entry cost and more power on tap... what's not to love here?
        dovegraybird
        • 7 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Glad you said that. At times I am viewed as anti electric, when in reality engines like this are why I question the popularity. Hybrid's are wonderful, and will always have a place, as will electric. Costs are dropping for them. The next generation of engine's will give them a real run for the money. We may have a few years where buying a hybrid just doesn't make sense financially, leaving it more a choice strictly for environmental concerns (or image).
          FordGTGuy
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dovegraybird
          Environmentally, this 1.0l is more environmentally friendly than the Prius C. The engine block can be recycled and rebuilt and it's less complicated and doesn't have to deal with a second electric motor and a large battery that isn't easily recycled and took more to produce.
          mustang_sallad
          • 7 Months Ago
          @dovegraybird
          Hybrids do have their place - it's in the city. This is a great review, looks like a great car and engine. But lets not forget that the Prius C hits 53mpg in the city! If you spend most of your time cruising on the highway, the Fiesta is the best bang for your buck in terms of saving gas. But a lot of people can't get on and off of the highway without doing a fair amount of stop and go, and that's where hybrid powertrains can provide a huge advantage. This is often forgotten in the common hybrid vs diesel arguments that get tossed around all over the place. Different strokes for different drive cycles!
      reattadudes
      • 7 Months Ago
      I look at all of these Ecoboost engines with more than a slight share of suspicion. after owning over fifteen turbocharged vehicles (Chrysler, Ford, GM, SAAB, Mercedes-Benz), I've failed to have a single one that did not succumb to both turbocharger and/or head gasket issues when they got to the five to seven year stage. it seems some of the Ecoboost engines are already experiencing these problems. a good friend has a 2011 F150 with 44,000 miles on the odometer. he has already had three turbos replaced under warranty ($2,800 each), and the service department was filled with others with the same malady. I had to laugh when the Ecoboost first came out, and Ford was crowing about all of the miles they covered "proving" the engine's durability. its not about miles, folks; its TIME, and that cannot be duplicated. now looking at a shitbox like this Fiesta, I can only imagine what a typical owner will be like. for some reason, a car-hater comes to mind, with maintenance being something that will take a back burner. they bought the car for the fuel economy, and that's it. let's say that car hater's Ecoboost Fiesta reaches that five year mark (a miracle in itself), and the turbo and/or head gasket craps out. how many will be left on the side of the road when they can't afford the astronomical cost of repairs? time will certainly tell, won't it?
        onewayroll
        • 7 Months Ago
        @reattadudes
        We have 4 Ecoboost F-150's in our fleet....3 are 2011 and one 2013. Not one single issue with either truck. After reading your rant of a comment, I call BS and you come across has a pure hater.
          reattadudes
          • 7 Months Ago
          @onewayroll
          hater? I merely gave examples of my own experiences with turbo charged vehicles, both import and domestic. every single one had the problems and issues I described. after taking my friend with the F-150 to the dealer four times to pick up his (again) repaired truck, I was only reflecting on my own experiences and concerns. have any of the trucks you've had experience with hit that five to seven year mark I described? why do you suppose GM and Chrysler not followed suit with their own trucks? I think my biggest question for the Ecoboost is, why? let's compare the Ecoboost to a RAM 1500 with the HEMI engine: HORSEPOWER TORQUE FUEL ECONOMY Ford Ecoboost: 365 420 16/22 (2WD) RAM HEMI: 395 410 15/22 (2WD) the HEMI is not working itself to death towing a load, how much heat are those turbos generating when towing a heavy load, since they never shut off? the HEMI is much simpler in design, and the engine itself is developing the horsepower without any add-ons like turbos. the HEMI also has the big advantage of cylinder deactivation (MDS), which Ford does not offer. now let's get to engine cost. both of these prices are over the standard, naturally aspirated V-6 engines. Ford Ecoboost: $2,395 RAM HEMI: $1,150 so what exactly is that extra $1,245 buying? its not power, or fuel economy. if repeated personal experience and stating mere facts makes me in some way a "hater", then so be it.
          merlot066
          • 7 Months Ago
          @onewayroll
          My neighbor put 5 years and 110,000 miles on a 2007 CX-7 without a single engine or turbo issue. She replaced it in 2012 with an EcoBoost Flex. 50,000 trouble-free miles (improperly glued headliner notwithstanding). And that's with her 17 year old son getting some time behind the wheel as well (read: not babied). As for your comparison of the F150 to Ram, just about every review of the EcoBoost F150 has lauded how commendably it performs while pulling a trailer, citing how effortlessly the engine handles it. Also, the Ram's V8 was tweaked last year slightly bumping its power and you are citing its mileage with cylinder deactivation as well as a brand-new 8-speed transmission (which adds another $500 to the price). So in reality, Ram's slightly more powerful, slightly lower torque, newer engine, with a brand-new 8 speed transmission still gets 1 MPG less (the HEMI bolted to the old 6-speed only got 14/20 city/highway) than Ford's EcoBoost engine from 2011 paired with a 6-speed transmission that dates back to 2007. Never mind the aluminum body panels, the reworked EcoBoost 3.5 for the 2015 F150 will certainly be getting more power, more torque, and better efficiency. No word on transmissions yet either, but towing and efficiency will be even more impressive once Ford is ready to use the new 9-speed they are developing with GM.
      CarEnthusiastRTP
      • 7 Months Ago
      How about a 1.5T version with 130-150HP/L. That would make a great engine for the next Fiesta ST. Lighter, better sounding, and oh so unique.
        merlot066
        • 7 Months Ago
        @CarEnthusiastRTP
        The ST already has the 1.6 EcoBoost, the 1.5L is nearly identical.
      brunswick90210
      • 7 Months Ago
      When they first mentioned the 1.0 liter ecoboost they also mentioned Ford was making it's first 8 speed transmission that could be coupled with it. I am sure that would greatly increase the mpgs of this car along with the start/stop tech and active grill shutters.
      Chsutera
      • 7 Months Ago
      American garbage.
      Ducman69
      • 7 Months Ago
      You do NOT want start-stop technology in the US. Our fuel hasn't become THAT expensive yet, to where the added wear and tear and reduced reliability of the vehicle from constantly starting and stopping the engine is paid off in fuel savings. With push button start systems, if you're sitting at a drivethrough or train crossing for a while, you can easily manually push the button. You don't want it constantly stopping and starting though, trust the stats.
        Greg
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ducman69
        Hybrids have used start-stop systems for well over a decade in the US. Where are all these maintenance problems of which you speak?
        mycommentemail
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ducman69
        Are start-stops actually doing worse in reliability? I haven't heard that. Not arguing it, just haven't heard it. Where are you getting this info? I think it would be a shame because I really liked it on my rental car when I was in Spain a few years ago
      Veronica
      • 7 Months Ago
      I've owned the car for a month. It does come standard with hill-stop and ESC (both of which can be switched off, if you prefer). The engine makes this car considerably more fun to drive than the base one, and IMHO, is worth the extra $, because you get more economy when you want it... and a whole lot more torque when you want it. Win/win. I drove mine like a nun last weekend on the highway and got almost 50MPG. When I run it like a pocket-rocket, I get 37ish.
        Shayne Wolfe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Veronica
        That's what I get out of my oil burning Jetta. Pretty dam impressive.
      jebibudala
      • 7 Months Ago
      I've had this exact vehicle since December. I'm up to 47.8mpg city. Took it on a road trip loaded with 4 adults + max cargo, traveling 75+ mph was still able to pull off 40mpg average - given that was through mountain passes and everything. It's an impressive little powerplant. Other folks are already above 50 mpg. So yeah, if you don't rage absolutely everywhere it returns some decent mileage.
      Ken
      • 7 Months Ago
      The only major hiccup with a vehicle like this is safety. Small cars fare poorly on crash tests. I would not feel safe driving this one. All it takes is one bad accident and you're likely to get seriously injured or worse. There are many other compact and mid-sized cars in the same price range that get nearly the same fuel economy that are much safer. The fiesta (and most other sub-compacts) is a bad choice.
        Quen47
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ken
        ...unless you live in these places some people may have heard of called "cities" that many thousands of people live in. I drive around for 30 minutes sometimes in SF looking for street parking in my old Audi A4. If my car were 20 inches shorter I would have a lot more parking. We don't all live in the 'burbs on here.
        merlot066
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ken
        Ford made safety a key concern with the fiesta and heavily utilized boron steel throughout the safety cage to maintain its structural integrity. Crumple zones are smaller in collisions with other vehicles, but the Fiesta isn't nearly as bad as others in its class (see Yaris vs. Camry crash tests).
        manure
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ken
        It should have a grenade launcher to shoot SUVs away in the event of a crash.
      raughle1
      • 7 Months Ago
      Love the idea of a quick, efficient little car with a stick. But as a car guy, 18k for an econobox rolling on steelies with plastic wheel covers...well... that's a no-go. Sorry.
        gary
        • 7 Months Ago
        @raughle1
        Come on, Tirerack has a dozen or more wheel choices for this car for +/- $100 a corner.
        Robert
        • 7 Months Ago
        @raughle1
        Steel wheels are for efficiency - traditional 5-spoke alloys create a lot of air resistance as they spin. They could easily account for 1 MPG or more. So yes, steel is cheaper, but the wheel covers do serve another purpose.
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