Ford’s 41 mpg Fiesta SFE version arrives with 2014 model; Fiesta ST and 1.0-liter three come this fall

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

In the slugfest for fuel economy bragging rights, Ford has just claimed the title of the first subcompact car to achieve an EPA fuel economy rating of 41 mpg, that car being the 2014 Ford Fiesta.

But wait, you say, didn’t CarBuzzard just test drive the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid? Then there’s a passel of VW diesels with a 42 mpg highway rating.

Ay, but there’s the rub. Ford doesn’t say so but, at least according to the numbers, the 2014 Fiesta is the first subcompact car to have a 41 mpg rating that isn’t a diesel or a hybrid. Why didn’t they just say so, other than the fact Ford makes its own hybrids, and let’s not start any cross-campus rivalries. But it’s fact that a standard gasoline-powered engine is less expensive to build (and can therefore allow a lower vehicle price) than a diesel or a hybrid powertrain.

Specifically, the claim is for the Fiesta SE with the Super Fuel Economy package that includes Ford’s 1.6-liter engine and PowerShift automatic transmission, and specific aerodynamic improvements.

The aero changes include a rear spoiler, side air deflectors, underbody shields, lower grille blockers, low-rolling-resistance tires and cruise control. Ford didn’t provide any drag coefficient numbers, but if we were going to improve a car’s aerodynamics, those are the things we’d do. And Ford’s engineers are at least as smart as we are.

Ford’s “PowerShift” transmission is also part of the 2014 Fiesta’s SFE package. The PowerShift trans contains what’s essentially two manual transmissions in the same unit working side by side, each with its own independent clutch unit. Swift electromechanical actuators actually shift the gears, as in a regular manual transmission, except alternating engagement via the dual clutch arrangement. The dual clutch/transmission eliminates the power-sapping torque converter of the conventional automatic transmission.

Along with the EPA-certified 41 mpg highway rating, Fiesta achieves 30 mpg in the city and 34 mpg combined, important to the typical subcompact buyer who looks at fuel economy as the number one factor in selecting a car.

Expect more this fall, however, with the application of a 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. The three-cylinder engine is the smallest engine Ford has ever brought to America. The famous Ford Model T, although it displaced almost three liters, made significantly less power, thanks to 100 years of technological advance. The 1.0-liter triple will be rated at 125 horsepower, a lot for such a small engine, and means the small engine won’t mean being the slowest bumblebee in the hive.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ford will introduce the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST this fall. A smaller brother to the exciting Ford Focus ST, the Fiesta ST will drop the standard 1.4-liter for in favor of the larger 1.6-liter engine in Ford’s repertoire. The 1.6-liter is tuned to produce 197 horsepower, which should make the small, lightweight Fiesta a rocket for a very small pocket.

MyFord Touch is available in the Fiesta for the first time 2014.

MyFord Touch is available in the Fiesta for the first time 2014.

We look forward to wrapping our mitt around the shift lever of the Fiesta ST—the only transmission in the Fiesta will be a six-speed manual. The Fiesta ST will be easy to spot, what with its blacked-out grille and chin spoiler, and at the rear, new rear diffuser and fascia extensions, high-mount spoiler, and dual-tipped dual-exhaust pipes. The ST will get its own 17-inch wheels.

Not just power and looks, handling is improved for the ST by lowering it by .6 inches plus increased roll stiffness at the rear. Electronic Torque Vectoring Control will be standard, reducing understeer during hard cornering, along with three-mode electronic stability control – standard, sport or off – for driver control of the amount of electronic interference provided.

Available for the first time in the Ford Fiesta will be Ford’s MyFord Touch system, with a 6.5-inch touch screen and improved voice control. Ford provided a MyFord Touch system for a brief drive. The screen sits atop the dash for easy viewing and is within easy reach of the driver.

Regardless of a driver’s proclivities, the 2014 Ford Focus will have—we hate to put it this way but it’s accurate—something for everyone in the small car market.