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Aaron Gold

Micro-boosting in the Fiesta

By November 27, 2012

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2014 Ford FiestaToday, I'll be getting my first spin in a car I've been very anxious to drive: The Ford Fiesta with the 1-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

By now, I'm sure you're familiar with Ford's EcoBoost concept: Small, direct-fuel-injected turbocharged engines that replaced bigger ones. So far, the smaller these engines get, the more I like them. I enjoyed the twin-turbo V6, as seen in the Flex and Taurus SHO. I was impressed by the 2-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost in the Taurus. And I fell in love with the 1.6 EcoBoost in the 2013 Fusion. (Matter of fact, I'll be spending a week with one towards the end of December.)

And now we have the smallest EcoBoost, the 1-liter 3-cylinder engine that will be offered in the 2014 Fiesta. The 1.0EB does the job of a 1.6 liter engine, right down to its power ratings of 123 hp and 148 lb-ft. EPA fuel economy estimates have not been announced, but with the 1.6 liter Fiesta SFE rated at 29 MPG city and 40 MPG highway, they'll need to be pretty impressive to justify the extra cost of the engine.

I'm optimistic -- I think small engines like this are the wave of the future. A few months ago, I drove a Japanese-spec Mitsubishi i with a turbocharged 0.66 liter three-cylinder, and it had no problem keeping up with traffic... although it only managed 30 MPG. On the other hand, when I think of our long-term Passat diesel -- a queen-size car that averages 40 MPG -- I have to wonder why the automakers won't just hurry up and give us more cars that feed from the greasy pump.

Could we someday see engines even smaller than the 1-liter EcoBoost? Well, Fiat does have a two-cylinder turbocharged engine call the TwinAir, which they offer in the European version of the Fiat 500...

So, off to drive the Fiesta, and I'll be sure to tell you how it is as soon as I can. -- Aaron Gold

November 27, 2012 at 6:58 am
(1) GB says:

Fiats twin air, i doubt is as serious about energy conservation as this Ford’s tripot mill.
The real thing will however be when these engines go camtrack less. If freeing the engine from the clutches of the alternator, fuel pump and power steering could result in this much increase in efficiency, i cant wait to see how much the Electronic Motor Operated Valve could do to improve the efficiency of the engine.

November 27, 2012 at 10:28 am
(2) Steve in GA says:

Interesting, but I wonder whether Ford is just spinning its wheels as it tries to attract you California guys into the showroom.

I read an article today titled, “For the Auto Industry, California Already Has Seceded” (pretty catchy, huh?) on a site called, “The Street”. The article’s basic theme had to do with how much different the California car market is from the rest of the United States.

For example, the best-selling vehicle in the country is the Ford F-Series. But in California, it is number 15, and that was the only U.S. brand vehicle in the top 15 in California.

A contributor to the article from Edmonds.com said that Californians have an “import car bias” as evidenced by the fact that the number one selling car in California this year is the 2012 Honda Civic, even though that car has been almost universally panned by the automotive press.

Yes, it is true that Californians buy about 11% of all new cars sold in the United States, but is Ford wasting its time trying to attract them with new, expensive technology like this three-cylinder EcoBoost that is clearly aimed at tiny-car loving Californians?

November 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm
(3) Ron says:

Aaron, the reason US get very few diesels is because the EPA hates them and manufacterures know this.

Steve, your accessment is sound. Oddly, many Californians seem to hate America as it is and want to “re-make” our country. I beleive that transitions over into automotive choices. No American manufacturer will do well in CA no matter what they make or how good it is. CA is a lost cause.

November 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm
(4) ganeshbabu Ganesh Babu says:

No Ron, thats exactly what Ford’s tripot mill is going to better.

November 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm
(5) Hawaiian Don says:

Wow Ron, that’s some pretty harsh words filled with parochial venom. What with all the other types of prejudice, now we have Automotive Regional Bigotry! 38,000,000 Californian Amercans are now labeled as “America Haters” or a “Lost Cause” because in our world of $4 per gal gas, we refuse to buy gas guzzling pickups and other behind the times American cars.
The good news is that US branded manufacturers are starting to produce efficient and reliable cars with good driving attributes.
By the way, that Civic you mentioned was bult by American Honda Corp., built in Marysville, Ohio and
taxes paid on profits and wages all paid right here in the USA.
As for your divisive regional rhetoric, you woudn’t be from one of those red, flag waving states hollering for secession, would you???

November 28, 2012 at 2:08 am
(6) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

Ron, while it’s true that imports do well in California, that doesn’t mean the domestics are left out in the cold. I was surprised to learn that Ford sells more Flexes in California than any other state — and that’s hardly a small, fuel-efficient car. It’s big, but it’s also got cutting-edge styling and tech and excellent packaging. If a product is that good, Californians will buy it, no matter where it comes from.

That said, keep in mind that with our higher-than-average gas prices, plus the traffic in Los Angeles and crowded parking in San Fran, smaller cars make more sense here. And also remember that when the Japanese brought their cars to the US, they landed in California first. Most have their corporate HQ in L.A. (Nissan and Subaru are notable exceptions), so no big surprise that America’s love affair with Japanese cars started out West. (ALso, those early rust problems weren’t a problem here.) The East got European cars, which were far less reliable.

And the idea that we hate America is just silly political rhetoric. People who perceive California as this wacky way-out liberal socialist communist state simply don’t know California. We’re the nation’s most populous state with 12% of the country’s population, so we must be doing something right. :)


November 28, 2012 at 3:26 am
(7) Hawaiian Don says:

True enough Aaron. Anybody from L.A. who gets off the I-5 in Bakersfield or Fresno swears they made a wrong turn and ended up in Texarkana when they see all the gun racks in the pickups!!!

November 28, 2012 at 8:25 am
(8) Dave says:

I recall driving my father in law’s 3 cylinder 5 speed geo metro 3 door hatchback. It was a blast to drive around town. The closest thing you could get to a legalized go-cart and 50 mpg to boot. Of course that car is primitive and a death trap compared to the new 3 cylinder fiesta.I’ve owned a couple of VW diesels (OK one of them was in a volvo 240 wagon) and they were so efficient. Looking forward to the cruze diesel. Might just get one. Keep up the interesting columns Aaron.

November 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm
(9) Steve in GA says:

Hmm, maybe I wasn’t clear in my first comment.

I was not suggesting that Californians are from Mars (although there are some in Hollywood that I’m not sure about), I’m just asking if the two big American car companies, no matter how great their product may be, have a chance at success in a California car market that is so different from the rest of the country.

It’s apparent that both GM and Ford (I’m ignoring the fringe American companies like Tesla) are spending huge amounts of money to develop and market cars that will appeal to Californians (and to be fair, buyers in the mega-cities of the east). But, since Californians are still spending most of their car-bucks on a car like the 2012 Civic instead of higher rated competitors, are GM and Ford just engaging in wishful thinking?

Aaron, I appreciate your optimism that Californians will eventually see GM and Ford as viable candidates, but the continuing success of the blah 2012 Civic in California doesn’t look promising for Ford or GM.

November 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(10) Ron says:

Having spent considerable time in CA, I stand by my comments, which were twisted way out of context. I did NOT say all or even most Californians are anti-American. Many are. A significant percentage are. It is true that the eastern part of CA is much different from western CA. Furthermore, having a lot of people living there does not mean you are doing anything right as Tialand has a large population, yet there is little that is “right” with that country. I hope I am wrong, but I do not see any Ford, Chevy, or Dodge of any size or quality doing well in CA

November 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm
(11) Hawaiian Don says:

Texas has a long history of secessionary sabre rattling “Don’t Mess With Texas”. I consider that more anti-American than anything ever coming out of the “Granola State” (once you take out the nuts and the fruits, all that’s left are the flakes-joke).
Should California decide on such a measure, it would be Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie!!!

November 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm
(12) DFI says:

First of all, I resent the implication that ANY Californians are anti-American. Having a difference of opinion and being able to express that difference is one of the most fundamental principals of being American. So do not EVER claim that someone is anti-American regardless of which state they live in or what they believe in. Unless they are literally saying “I hate America” then knock it off with the whole anti-American thing!

Now to the real point here, I think Ron and Steve are missing it. It’s not a question of whether domestic car brands should bother to try and compete in California, it’s whether the domestic car brands should bother to try and compete in large populous areas where small size and high fuel efficiency are major factors. The can’t afford to ignore over 18% of the entire population of the US by not developing for cities like LA, SF, and NYC where small size and fuel efficiency is priority. And don’t think for a second that city drivers in these areas make their choice because they are tree hugging hippy freaks who just want to feel superior to anyone who buys a truck. These people make their choice because they know that Ford F-150 is going to cost them an extra $3K a year in gas, never be able to find a parking space big enough, and they don’t NEED a truck living in the city.

You ask why the Civic is so popular in CA? Because it’s small, it’s cheap, it’s reliable, and it gets great gas milage. Sure you can argue there are domestic cars just as good and that falls on the marketing campaigns doorstep. Honda has done a great job over several decades establishing the consumer opinion that the Honda Civic is the most reliable choice. Say what you want but around here you don’t see many 20 year old Fords or Chevys on the road but you sure do see a lot of Hondas because they just keep on going like little energizer bunnies.

December 2, 2012 at 9:52 am
(13) Rond says:

DFI, a little oversensative? When someone spits on me when I am wearing my uniform as I walk by, I say that speaks for itself. Most Californians are good people, but there are a large number that openly talk about how bad America is and demonstrate their hatred by action… I am tired of having to bit my tongue while the other side claims they have freedom of speech, which they do, but so do I. Until we can talk about what we see in an open, honest forum without feelings getting hurt we will never solve anything. Enough deflection.

Ford and Chevy have been making fuel efficient, reliable small cars for decades (but most are not US made). Vehicles that commonly last 200-400k miles from my personal experience (never had a Ford, Chevy or Jeep that failed to go at least 200k). Ford makes more than the F150. Sociology and feelings have a lot to do with choices in which vehilcles to purchase. In this tough economy, I will ONLY buy US made to support US workers. This means the only small car I can buy is the Chevy Sonic. Prove me wrong CA and buy Sonics. They are great fuel efficient cars.

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