2019 Fiesta New Car Test Drive
The Ford Fiesta is in its final year after a long good run; and if you count its years in Europe before it came to the U.S., that run has been longer and better.
The Fiesta is a subcompact sedan and hatchback with a choice of three engines, from perky and inexpensive, to tiny and unique, to pocket-rocket responsive. It's got a spunky personality with nimble handling that makes it fun to drive, while its tiny size makes it easy to park. This is the ninth year of its generation, but because it's being phased out, there are no changes for 2019.
The base engine is a 1.6-liter four cylinder making 120 horsepower that isn't quick but feels peppy enough with the 5-speed manual transmission, if you work to keep the revs up. The Fiesta only weighs 2,600 pounds so that helps. It gets 30 miles per gallon with the 5-speed, or 31 mpg with the available 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The newest engine is Ford's 1.0-liter 3-cylinder, with 123 horsepower and a strong 148 pound-feet of torque. You still have to keep the revs up, with the 5-speed gearbox, but the little 3-cylinder likes it. Before the engine was put in the Fiesta, it was successful in Europe, where fuel mileage matters more because of high taxes on gasoline. The EPA rates it 36 mpg Combined; we got 41.9 miles per gallon on a 350-mile road trip that was two-thirds highway and one-third city.
The turbocharged Fiesta ST is perfectly named because it's as fun as a party on the road. Its 1.6-liter turbo-4 engine makes 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque, in overboost mode. It only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, along with tighter steering and a firmer suspension and brakes, with summer tires. A Fiesta ST can easily take on the Mini Cooper S, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, and Volkswagen GTI, three other hot hatches. The little hot rod ST gets 29 Combined mpg.
Full EPA numbers for the base 1.6-liter engine are 27 mpg city, 37 highway, 31 combined for the twin-clutch 6-speed. Opting for the 5-speed manual drops those figures to 27/35/30 mpg. The Fiesta ST gets 26/33/29 mpg.
Some rivals get more. For example the Honda Fit is EPA-rated at 40 highway miles per gallon, 3 mpg more than the base Fiesta.
The 2019 Fiesta offers no automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, or active lane control. Ford's subcompact is one of few new cars not to offer any of those features.
The NHTSA rates the Fiesta at four stars overall, partly because a rear door panel struck a crash-test dummy in side-impact testing, the agency said. The Fiesta earned the top 'Good'? ratings in most of the IIHS tests, with a Marginal'? rating in the driver-side small-overlap test..
The Fiesta comes as S, SE, Titanium and ST models.
The Fiesta S sedan costs about $15,000, but count on it being discounted in 2019. Standard equipment includes a 4.2-inch display for its AM/FM/CD/Bluetooth 6-speaker audio system, air conditioning, rearview camera, fabric upholstery, manual windows, and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. The 5-speed manual transmission is standard, with 6-speed twin-clutch optional. The turbocharged 3-cylinder engine is also optional. The hatchback costs $500 more.
For about $1,200 more, the Fiesta SE adds better fabric upholstery, plus power windows, cruise control, keyless ignition, ambient lighting and theft alarm. Options include heated seats, a power moonroof, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. With the infotainment upgrade and heated seats, the Fiesta SE hatchback costs about $18,000, before any discount.
Titanium adds leather, heated seats, automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, a Sony audio system, and Sync 3 infotainment system. It uses a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. At more than $20,000, its value is dubious.
Available only as a hatchback, the Fiesta ST costs about $22,000, but it has the performance to match in its 197-horsepower engine. It features upgrades to the suspension, steering and brakes, plus sport seats, black interior trim, aluminum pedals, black headlamp rims, tall spoiler, special bodywork, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Its available Recaro seats cost a hefty $2,000 and may not fit all physiques, so try before you order. .