Ford’s 999cc three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo Fiesta.
Ford’s 999cc three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo Fiesta. Iain Curry

Ford Fiesta EcoBoost road test: Three-pot greenie

THE new Ford Fiesta ST was one of the most impressive and fun cars I drove last year.

A true hot hatch, it reminded me you don't need to spend big or have ludicrous power figures to experience driving thrills.

Result is, I've got something of a soft spot for Fiestas right now.

And from this month, the little Ford's range has been extended to give buyers even greater reason to party.

The 2012 and 2013 International Engine of the Year - Ford's 999cc three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo - has been introduced in the Fiesta; the first time we've seen this lauded petrol powerplant in Australia.

Three cylinders? We've seen Fiat and Alfa Romeo offer an 875cc TwinAir two-cylinder recently, so there's clearly a bit of a sub-four-cylinder movement happening right now.

And during a short drive of a new three-cylinder Fiesta Sport, I'm convinced this is going to be a good thing.

I feared a three-potter would be gutless, over-stretched, noisy and prone to vibration, but on the contrary, it proved to be a lovely little thing.

With 92kW it doesn't turn the Fiesta into a rocket ship of course, but it's hardly bad for an engine with a block roughly the size of a sheet of A4.

You're not left wanting for torque, with the maximum 170Nm reached at just 1400rpm thanks to the fast-spooling small turbocharger, and peak torque remains up to 4500rpm.

Around town the motor feels refined, quiet and very smooth; in fact, very much like a well-built in-line four-cylinder.

Incredibly, these qualities remain when reaching speed on the freeway, and sitting at 110kmh the little three feels anything but stretched.

It makes Fiesta's entry-level normally aspirated 1.5-litre Duratec engine look somewhat redundant: it may have 50% more capacity, but the 1.5-litre has 10kW and 30Nm less than the three-cylinder, drinks more fuel and produces more emissions.

Ford quotes an impressive return of 4.9 litres/100km in the manual 1.0-litre EcoBoost, and 5.3 in the auto.

And if you're a driver who likes revs, good news is so does the three-cylinder turbo.

As mentioned before it's not what you'd call fast, but throttle response is good, the torque keeps it pulling along nicely and the sound is surprisingly fruity.

The EcoBoost engine is impressively peaceful in town and on a relaxed motorway run, but heading towards the redline there's a satisfying turbo exhaust note to enjoy in the cabin.

My test car's PowerShift double-clutch auto did a good job seamlessly shifting through the cogs, but having a brief test of a manual too, I personally believe a clutch pedal suits the lively little Fiesta better.

It's the sort of hatchback you want full charge of, especially as it just feels so damn good in the turns: direct steering, really nice weight through the wheel and impressive balance and grip.

It can't match the Fiesta ST's abilities, but enough shared DNA is there to make this three-cylinder variant a real hoot.

Driving aside, the five-door's body is unquestionably attractive - if not as sporty as the three-door - and the interior, while unmistakably Ford, is good for this price point.

You do need to splash out a bit more to get in this three-cylinder: drive-away price for the EcoBoost manual is $22,525, while my test auto with Sports Executive Pack breaks the $25K mark.

That's nudging Fiesta ST money (where you'll find the real fun); while there's a case for the 1.5-litre Fiesta as it's drive-away starts at $17,825.

The three-cylinder EcoBoost Fiesta Sport deserves to be the volume seller of the range however: quite simply it's a superb all-rounder that feels grown-up for a fun hatchback.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: 2014 Ford WZ Fiesta Sport EcoBoost.

Details: Five-door front-wheel-drive hatchback.

Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost generating maximum power of 92kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 170Nm @ 1400-4500rpm.

Transmission: Five-speed manual or PowerShift automatic.

Consumption: 4.9 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 5.3 litres/100km (auto).

CO2: 113g/km (121g/km auto).

Bottom line: $22,525 drive-away.


Lismore Gallery exhibits capture our reach

Lismore Gallery exhibits capture our reach

As a public facility the gallery's remit is ensure reach is broad

Escape the screens and let's get cycling

Escape the screens and let's get cycling

cycling gives your mind a break and your body an influx of oxygen

Gallery exhibits a 'portrait' of Lismore

Gallery exhibits a 'portrait' of Lismore

Two of our best photographers give Heart & Soul to new exhibition

Local Partners