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2014 Ford Fiesta ST

2015 Ford Fiesta Preview

Buying Advice

The 2015 Ford Fiesta is the best car for you if you want an affordable small sedan or hatchback with European road manners and best-in-class fuel economy.

The 2015 Ford Fiesta should continue little-changed after a model-year 2014 refresh that included introduction of the sporty turbocharged ST hatchback and a three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost-engine option. Upgraded interior materials and availability of the MyFord Touch infotainment interface were also part of the updates. The 2015 Fiesta competes in the subcompact class with such cars as the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic, 2015 Nissan Versa, and 2015 Honda Fit.

Should you wait for the 2015 Ford Fiesta or buy a 2014 Ford Fiesta? Buy a 2014 Fiesta. Ford in on track to introduce a fully redesigned Fiesta for model-year 2016. The 2015 isn’t apt to change beyond a new color choice or two and maybe a couple of shuffled features. Buying a 2014 Fiesta helps you avoid the almost-inevitable 2015 model-year price escalation — and the mixed emotions and accelerated depreciation that come with owning a car in the final year of its design cycle.

Changes

Styling: The 2015 Ford Fiesta will reprise four-door-sedan and four-door-hatchback body styles. Both got a revised front end for model-year 2014 that follows the styling introduced on the 2013 midsize Ford Fusion. It’s characterized by a distinctive Aston Martin-style trapezoidal grille flanked by narrow headlamps that sweep well back into muscular front fenders. Fiesta’s feisty ST (Sport Technologies) model is distinguished by a black honeycomb-mesh grille and an aggressive front bumper and air dam. Other ST-specific styling cues include wide wheel arches, exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels and in the back, a cross-patterned rear diffuser and chromed dual exhaust tips.

Size-wise, the 2015 Fiesta continues in America’s smallest class of cars. Both Fiesta body styles share a 98-inch wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles and a dimension critical to interior space), but the sedan is nearly 14 inches longer overall than the hatchback.

Expect a 2015 Fiesta lineup consisting of base S, midline SE, top-line Titanium, and the performance ST models. The 2015 S Fiestas should again come with 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, SE models with 15-inch alloys, Titanium with 16-inchers and the ST with 17-inch rims.

Despite budget pricing, the 2015 Fiesta will continue to look and feel richer inside than the typical subcompact, with a soft-touch upper dash and metallic accents complemented by tight build quality.

Continuing from the model-year 2014 refresh will be a simplified dashboard layout with a center-mounted 6.5-inch display screen, new steering wheel, and improved upholsteries. The 2015 Fiesta ST cabin should continue with ST-specific cloth sport seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, and aluminum-trimmed pedals and doorsill plates.

In any 2015 Fiesta, occupants should again find comfortable front bucket seats with plenty of head- and leg-room. In back, however, legroom is at a premium, particularly if the front seat is set to accommodate a tall driver. Unlike in selected rivals such as the Versa, Fit, and Kia Soul, rear seating in the Fiesta is best suited for children and shorter adults.

The 2015 Fiesta sedan will return with a class-competitive 12.8 cubic-foot trunk. The hatchback is more versatile than the sedan, but its 26-cubic-foot maximum cargo capacity falls considerably short of the Fit, Sonic, Soul, and Hyundai Accent hatchbacks. And Fiesta’s cargo-carrying capabilities will likely again be hindered by rear seats that don’t fold completely flat.

Mechanical: The 2015 Ford Fiesta returns with traditional small-car engineering: front-wheel drive, a beam rear axle, and electric power steering. The 2015 Fiesta will, however, continue among the few subcompacts to offer more than one engine.

The base engine will again be a dual-overhead-cam 1.6-liter four-cylinder that features variable camshaft timing. It should continue with 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that maintains movement). This eager-to-rev four delivers ample pep at the onset, but doesn’t have gobs of power at full throttle, diminishing passing punch.

Overtaking other vehicles won’t be an issue with the 2015 Fiesta ST. The little performance machine will return with Ford’s EcoBoost, turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder. It punches out 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. To aid in the transformation from economy car to sport hatch, the ST includes a six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, quicker steering, lowered suspension, and Ford’s electronic Torque Vectoring Control, which helps the sporty hatchback accelerate through a turn.

Added late in the 2014 model year and continuing for 2015 is Ford’s optional 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine. The smallest engine available in this class, it produces 123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. That’s roughly the same output as the base 1.6-liter four-cylinder, but the three-cylinder is tuned for fuel economy rather than performance. EPA fuel-economy ratings for this engine were not announced in time for this review, but Ford projected more than 40 mpg on the highway, while other sources predicted 44-45 highway mpg. That’s hybrid-car territory.

Transmission choices probably won’t change for the 2015 Ford Fiesta. That means Fiesta will soldier on with a standard five-speed manual for the 1.6-liter engine while top competitors will employ six-speed manual gear boxes. The ST will continue with its close-ratio six-speed manual.

Continuing unique in this class is Fiesta’s optional six-speed dual clutch transmission. Ford calls it the PowerShift transmission and while it’s designed to perform like a conventional automatic transmission, it’s actually an automated manual transmission without a clutch pedal. With it, the 2015 Fiesta will have higher fuel-economy ratings than it will with the traditional five-speed manual. But drivers will encounter annoying gear searching and occasional abrupt shifts, especially in low-speed city driving. Plus, PowerShift does not give Fiesta drivers the option of a manual-shift mode found on most other cars with similar automated-manual transmissions.

Expect the 2015 Fiesta S equipped with the PowerShift automatic transmission to again be available with the Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package. Resulting in a 1-mpg advantage in highway and combined city/highway ratings over the standard 1.6-liter Fiesta, this option includes low-rolling-resistance tires and such aerodynamic tweaks as a rear spoiler and underbody shields.

The 2015 Fiesta S, SE, and Titanium models will again come with rear drum brakes. Four-wheel disc brakes will be standard on the ST model. Every 2015 Fiesta will return with antilock brake technology for added control in emergency stops and an antiskid system to reduce chances of sideways slides.

Overall, the 2015 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback will relinquish a little cabin room to rivals in favor of edgy, brash styling. However, that shortcoming will be balanced by the way the Fiesta drives down the road.

Responsive steering and sophisticated European suspension tuning reward drivers with sharp handling. Yet, except for deep potholes, most road imperfections are effectively smothered. Accelerating from a stoplight, the standard Fiestas are unlikely to set hearts ablaze. But the ST edition’s 0-60-mph time of 5.8 seconds will move the heart rate up. Add razor-sharp reflexes and the ST is a formidable competitor to the more expensive, hot-rodded Fiat Abarth and Mini Cooper S.

Features: The 2015 Fiesta’s roster of features isn’t likely to grow much. This car is already the technology and connectivity leader in the subcompact class. However, Ford does have more gee whiz high-tech goodies in its toolbox. So it’s conceivable Ford could equip the 2015 Fiesta with Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. This gives visual and audible warnings of vehicles in adjacent traffic lanes, as well as those to the rear and sides when backing out of a driveway or parking space.

It’s also possible Ford could offer U.S. Fiesta buyers a safety feature available on European-spec Fiesta called Active City Stop. Intended to help drivers avoid low-speed collisions, it uses Lidar optical sensing technology across the windshield to alert drivers of a possible frontal crash.

Even without expanding the options list, the 2015 Ford Fiesta will again offer an impressive roster of features, including some not usually available on subcompact cars. For starters, the MyFord Touch infotainment system offers an optional map-type navigation system, a rarity for the class. On the downside, MyFord Touch uses often-confusing touch-sensitive controls that replace knobs and buttons for entertainment and other functions.

Fiestas without MyFord Touch will continue with a less-complicated infotainment interface, Ford’s basic Sync system. Sync offers hands-free connectivity for communications, navigation, and entertainment services such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Audible.com. Sync integrates a USB iPod interface and can provide turn-by-turn directions. The system can also display news headlines along with current traffic and weather information; a three-year service plan for these services will likely be included.

Bluetooth phone connectivity, air conditioning, power locks and mirrors, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, height adjustable driver’s seat are among conveniences that’ll return as standard equipment. Same for keyless remote entry, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, intermittent windshield wipers, and a rear wiper on hatchback.

The standard audio system should again consist of an AM/FM/CD unit with an auxiliary jack for connecting iPods and other devices. On the safety menu will be seven airbags – including one at knee height on the driver’s side.

Returning among available features, depending on trim level, should be remote engine start, keyless entry/pushbutton ignition, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a power moonroof. Also on tap will be Ford’s MyKey system, a feature that enables parents to encourage young-driver seatbelt use and safe driving by programming limits on vehicle speed and audio volume, among other measures.

Options for the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST should again include Recaro-brand sport front bucket seats and special 17-inch wheel package that includes red brake calipers.

About Larry E. Hall

This Olympia, Wash.-based freelance journalist and is founder of Northwest Auto News Service. Larry has written about cars and the automotive industry for more than 20 years, with a focus on alternative fuels and vehicles. His articles have been published by MSNBC.com and MSN Autos as their alternative-fuels correspondent and in numerous newspapers, trade journals, and business publications.

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