Undeniably, Ford’s 1.0L EcoBoost engine is a gem: every bit of its three-cylinders, 999cc and its turbocharger. And with the awards racked up in its favour, here it is, brought to you by Sime Darby Auto Connexion, firmly fitted to its 2014 Ford Fiesta. Apart from the highly-acclaimed engine, the Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost itself adopts a new bodykit, daytime running lights, and a total of seven airbags (just two are available on other Fiesta variants). But while these impressive new bits and the already-available excitement of the standard 1.5-litre Fiesta are all good and well, the biggest fuss is to be made of the car’s new engine. Is it really that quick? What about its fuel consumption? Well, if three ‘International Engine of the Year’ titles aren’t enough to float your boat, here goes:
Buyer’s Guide: Should you buy one? For everything the regular 1.5-litre Ford Fiesta hatch lacked (particularly the low power), you can rest-assured it’s all accounted for in this EcoBoost variant. Equipment-wise, you can’t go wrong, and the dynamic handling of this Ford is a match for anything the segment can throw at it. That said, while there is more power from this than its regular counterpart, the fuel efficiency of this car isn’t as great as you might aspect from a three-cylinder 999cc. And then you have the slightly cramped cabin we’ve become familiar with in modern Fords. Is it worth the RM96,551 (with insurance)? That depends on how much you enjoy brisk driving on a daily basis. And even so, we reckon some prying away from the Suzuki Swift Sport is necessary.
KEY SPECS: 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost
Driving a 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost:
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING: From our test drives of the 1.5-litre variant, we remember that there’s a fantastic chassis underneath the Fiesta which made it superb fun to drive hard. Although, it did have a few setbacks: the drive-by-wire throttle controlled engine took ages to respond when you needed the power to overtake, and the 1.5-litre Ti-VCT engine just didn’t have enough juice to match the great handling. Have these issues been addressed in the 1.0L EcoBoost? Yes, and no: there is a noticeable increase in power which befits this car’s handling capabilities, but the throttle lag is still very much apparent. Driving off from standstill with the pedal gently pressed will get you moving instantly, but stamping the throttle hard to overtake someone, there is a noticeable delay before the engine's rev starts building. – be prepared to miss a few lane changes when there’s approaching traffic from the rear. Also, if you were wondering about how the new EcoBoost mill gets on against the discontinued 1.6-litre Ti-VCT in the pre-facelift model, you may notice that there isn’t much on paper to suggest it’s a lot quicker (just 3PS more). But the improvements are obvious out on the open road. RIDE COMFORT: The Fiesta isn’t as supple over the bumps as say, a Volkswagen Polo, for example: so there’s likely to be a few who may not appreciate its ride. But try it, before you leave it. There’s no complete escape from feeling road imperfections, but at the levels you do in the Fiesta, it’s all actually useful feedback of the kinds of roads you’re on at any time.
On long highways, it’s extremely stable for a small hatch. But remember to keep an eye on the speedometer because this chassis is so comfortable with speed, you just don’t realise how fast you’re going – even at 140-150km/h. The only indication of the speed stems from wind noises that start to show around the 110km/h mark. HANDLING: As mentioned, all the 1.5-litre Fiesta lacked was a bit more power. In the 1.0L EcoBoost, you finally get it, and the whole package is magic. If you can overlook the excessive initial lag and keep the revs up, this car is a hoot to drive fast. We needn’t say more. But please, save your enthusiasm for a circuit – preferably a small, tight one with more corners than long straights.
Living with a 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost: Having already covered this aspect in our previous test drive of the Fiesta (snug-fit cabin, decent boot space, fair bit of comfort), here’s a specific look at what’s new in the Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost. FEATURES & EQUIPMENT: There aren’t any new infotainment or creature comfort improvements inside the 1.0L EcoBoost that isn’t already on the regular variant, but the previous list was enough to impress us. The six-speaker system has quality, and streams tunes right off your Bluetooth, USB or Aux devices. Ford’s SYNC audio system is as it’s ever been, still requiring some familiarisation to use – yes, it’s never been the simplest interface to work with.
FUEL ECONOMY: Yes, it’s a three-cylinder engine, turbocharged to boost power and potentially save you fuel, but realistically, you get the power, but not the savings you might expect. Comparatively, things do look better for the new EcoBoost when compared against the regular Ti-VCT engines: the normally-aspirated 1.5-litre Ti-VCT engine returned 9.0 to 10.5-litres/100km in real-world driving conditions, while this should be good to fetch anywhere between 8.0 to 9.5-litres/100km. Of course, you could milk it a little more to try and achieve the claimed 5.3-litre/100km, but that would take an unnatural amount of discipline to do. SAFETY: Where the regular variant had to make do withonly two airbags, the 1.0L EcoBoost increases the airbag count to a total of seven. This, and the already-available safety features make it pretty well-equipped in the department:
Competing with a 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost: 2014 SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT: For nearly the same money, you could also bag yourself one of these down-to-earth, everyday heroes. Just like the Fiesta, it’s a very practical and affordable hot hatch. Power figures nearly match as well, with the Swift Sport having more horses (+9hp), but fewer torques (-10Nm). The Swift humbly doesn’t have any turbochargers, or any fast-shifting dual-clutch transmissions, which certainly makes it a far more conservative choice. The CVT gets by alright, but there is a manual option (Mmm…). That said, its well-understood and proven engineering means that maintaining it is less of a headache, and power delivery can be as linear as you want, without needing to depend on any lacklustre drive-by-wire systems. And, have we mentioned that there’s a manual option too?
Verdict: So here’s what we think… The Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost has a lot of tricks up its sleeves. It’s a really great car to drive hard, and it has the ability to transform nicely into a practical everyday hatch at an instant. Manage your fuel consumption expectations realistically, and you won’t be disappointed there either. The cabin’s a little too cramped for my six-foot self as a driver and a passenger in the rear, and the throttle lag takes a lot of getting used to. And then you have Sime Darby Auto Connexion’s very, very attractive three-years/ 60,000km free maintenance program and a five-year/200,000km warranty, which makes owning a Ford easier than imagined. You can’t go wrong there. Question is, Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost? Or the Swift Sport? Tough one.