Ford's little engine that could – and does – is the company's 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost with its astonishing ability to deliver something huge in a package tidy enough to stuff into your roll-aboard carry-on luggage.
Ford's three-banger has been captivating gearheads worldwide for two years, and it's finally coming to Canada in the Fiesta SE subcompact.
The lesson: small is the new big in ultra-efficient engines. Pint-sized as it is, this two-time engine of the year (2012, 2013) has the muscle of Popeye on a spinach binge with none of the Bluto bulk.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost is among the world's most modern and innovative engines: direct fuel injection; turbocharging; variable valve timing; creative engineering to keep a three-cylinder engine from wobbling; output rated at 123 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of overboost torque; and teaspoon-sipping fuel economy.
Joe Bakaj, Ford's global power train boss, argues that the 1.0-litre EcoBoost is a "breakthrough" and an economical gasoline alternative to the expensive diesels in the Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze.
"Many customers would like the fuel efficiency of a modern diesel or a hybrid, but can't stretch their budgets to cover the cost premium," Bakaj said. "That's where the EcoBoost Fiesta fits in."
Still, there is a premium for internal combustion genius – an extra $1,295 for the EcoBoost package on a 2014 Fiesta SE which starts at $16,675, plus $1,565 freight.
Ford has a $500 delivery credit in play and you should get a few hundred more in dealer discounts. But when the 2015 version rolls into showrooms shortly, pricing drops $676 for both the sedan and hatchback – and the EcoBoost option slips to $800 and $500, sedan and hatch respectively.
So bargain hard for 2014 discounts, or wait for 2015. Either way, your only transmission choice is an obviously dated five-speed manual gearbox.
Ford of Canada is using the 1.0-litre as the centrepiece of a little re-launch of an updated Fiesta. Nothing dramatic, just styling tweaks and a tidy-up to the cabin. But the Fiesta already was the most entertaining, contemporary subcompact in Canada.
Planet-loving, early-adopting gearheads now have a stylish grocery getter with the horsepower-per-litre output of a Lamborghini Avantador. Pony up for the EcoBoost; it's worth it.Tech Specs
2014 Ford Fiesta
Type: subcompact sedan/hatchback
Base price: $16,675
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder
Transmission/drive: Five-speed manual/ front-wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 6.2 city/4.2 highway; regular fuel
Alternatives: Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa Note and Micra, Scion xD
Looks: Ford nailed the styling for 2012 with the introduction of this design language, and for 2015 a few tweaks to the bonnet and such have dressed things up nicely. Sharp.
Interior: The seats are as well-padded as any in this class and better than most. The control layout is Porsche Panamera-ish and the gauges are clear. Not much room in the back, though.
Ride: You cannot buy a sportier subcompact in Canada, yet the highway ride will not punish you on a longish commute. A well-done chassis all around.
Safety: A Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though the Fiesta had only a middle performance in the tough small overlap test.
Cargo space: Well, we're talking about a little car. Get the hatchback for no extra charge and you have a much more functional car.
Infotainment: The Fiesta is class leading in infotainment. Ford has had issues with its infotainment systems, but the glitches are being addressed and, when everything works, Ford is top of the class.
The Verdict: Pricing is the problem. Ford is making the EcoBoost mill available only on the SE model and that puts the real-world price at least past $18,000 – a lot for grocery getter. Otherwise, this is a terrific car.
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