LA Auto Show: 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0-Liter Ecoboost

The 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 Liter Ecoboost has a little engine that could change the automotive industry,

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

If Ford wanted to assign the 2014 Ford Fiesta's 1.0 Liter Ecoboost the voice of a popular children’s story, it might be: “I know I can. I know I can.”

The idea of any domestic car – even a small hatchback design like the Fiesta – powered by a 3 cylinder, 1.0 liter engine might seem absurd to some car shoppers. However, after putting one through its paces during both road and track testing, I would defy any average driver to tell the difference between the Ecoboost model and the previous years’ four cylinder version.

Ford massed waves of automotive journalists in Santa Monica during the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show for a test drive up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu to an impromptu test track at the Camarillo Airport. Redesigned with a few styling flares, such as Ford’s now trademark double-scoop grill, the Fiesta’s longer, swooping lines make the car seem longer than its entry-level hatchback rivals. But it’s actually right in line with the Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda 2 and others.

The ride is peppy and fun. The Fiesta 1.0 doesn’t jerk your head back, but it’s not meant to be a Mustang. That little 3 cylinder power-plant provides everything the car needs for city or highway driving.

By shrinking the engine, adding the Ecoboost turbocharger and reducing weight by using modern materials, the new Fiesta scores what will probably be its primary selling point. When the car hits the market for the 2014 model year, it’s projected to achieve an average mileage of 47 mpg. That’s 47 – and not from a hybrid, anything you have to plug-in and charge for eight hours or something you have to drive 10 miles out of your way to find a CNG or hydrogen pump. That’s from a gasoline driven car – a major achievement for Ford engineers.

As for drawbacks, they’re about the same as with any other small hatchback. Calling the Fiesta a four-passenger car is a little optimistic. With two full-size adults in the driver’s and front passenger seat, there isn’t an abundance of comfortable space in the back. Payload capacity is limited under the hatch, but a Fiesta isn’t expected to carry a lot of cargo. It needs to be a small, fuel-efficient urban people carrier that can offer a little bit of zippy fun along the way.

Of course, the buyer should beware as with any turbocharged car. By putting that booster on any engine, you’re adding one more major component that can go wrong. With so many turbocharged cars on the market, automakers know how to build the things properly. However, it can be a maintenance issue once a car has some miles on it.

Finally, the only other possible hitch for some drivers will be the manual transmission. For those intelligent and sophisticated people out there who can still drive stick, the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost offers a a light, responsive clutch and easy shifting. But for the lazier travelers who never learned the pleasures of a manual transmission, they’re going to have to wait and see if they still get a crack at the Fiesta's 1.0. To save on weight and further boost mileage, it only comes in manual.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta's 1.0 Liter Ecoboost's power-plant really is "the little engine that could." What "could" it do? It just might change how the automotive industry looks at building more fuel efficient cars.