Unlike buying a sports car or luxury cruiser, purchasing an economy car isn't usually an occasion to celebrate. Yet with belt-tightening just about everywhere you look, the virtues of value and fuel efficiency are becoming just as important and appealing as eye-watering acceleration and sumptuous comfort. Ford tapped into these potentially changing tastes with its subcompact Fiesta.
The Ford Fiesta provides levels of refinement, sportiness and style that not too long ago were unthinkable in the economy class. We've found that the entry-level Ford boasts not only impressive comfort, enjoyable driving dynamics and an inviting cabin but also unexpected features like keyless ignition and Ford's Sync system. In other words, the Ford Fiesta is a winner. Even if you never thought you'd drive a subcompact car, it may be time to reconsider.
Current Ford Fiesta
The four-door Ford Fiesta subcompact is offered as a sedan and hatchback in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. The high-performance ST model is available only as a hatchback.
All but the ST come standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 120 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed automated manual is optional. Optional for the SE is a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes 123 hp. It only comes with a five-speed manual transmission and boasts an impressive estimated 37 mpg combined. The ST boasts a turbocharged 1.6-liter four with 197 hp and comes only with a six-speed manual. With a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, the ST is a quick little car.
The S trim's standard features include a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, power locks and mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an audio system with a CD player and an iPod/USB interface. The SE adds keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, a trip computer, a front center armrest and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Titanium's added highlights, some of which are optional on the SE, include alloy wheels, foglamps, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, the MyFord Touch interface, Sync Services (traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions) and an upgraded audio system with both satellite and HD radio. The Fiesta ST's perks include unique bodywork, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, high performance tires, quicker steering, upgraded brakes and sport seats.
Inside, the Fiesta features a soft-touch dash and tight construction that impart a feeling of quality normally lacking in an entry-level car. The Fiesta's controls, especially for the stereo, can be a bit confusing even for the technologically minded, but are at least well placed. In terms of backseat and cargo space, the sedan is competitive with its rivals but the hatchback offers considerably less capacity than Honda's Fit.
On the road, the standard 1.6-liter inline-4 provides refined performance, and with either transmission gets the Fiesta to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds. The available turbocharged inline-3 is a real gem, providing strong fuel economy, an energetic engine note and exceptional acceleration for the segment. Of course, the ST's power plant is the real thriller in a segment not known for pulse-quickening rides. Regardless of which version you get, the Fiesta boasts excellent steering response and suspension tuning that yields an ideal ride-and-handling balance. Handling is even sharper in the ST and although the ride is firmer as well, it's not too stiff for daily driver duty.
Used Ford Fiesta Models
The current-generation Fiesta bowed for 2011 and was essentially unchanged through 2013. Although otherwise similar, these Fiestas had slightly different styling and did not offer the MyFord Touch electronics interface, ST model or the turbocharged three-cylinder engine.