2014 Ford Fiesta Titanium: First Drive

Changes for 2014 are minimal. New front and rear styling looks very similar to the outgoing 2013 model, and if shoppers park them side by side, they’ll likely be unable to discern which one’s new. That’s not necessarily bad, as both models are still attractive — in hatchback form. The sedan’s tall and narrow body with a high trunklid still looks mighty awkward from just about any angle.

Power still comes from a carryover 1.6-liter engine making 120 horsepower, channeled through either a five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic. My test vehicle was a Titanium-trim hatchback equipped with the five-speed manual. All 120 of those horses work hard to get the Fiesta moving, with acceleration best described as “eventual.” It is possible to drive the Fiesta quickly, but it requires a style of driving most people would find tiresome and nearly all passengers, uncomfortable.

The reward for putting up with glacial acceleration is decent fuel economy — most Fiestas are rated at 29/39/32 mpg city/highway/combined; the SFE package pushes that to 30/41/34. Coming later in the year is an optional 1.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine; Ford hints it’ll be the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicle in America. On the other end of the spectrum is the new-for-2014 Fiesta ST, featuring a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine making 197 horsepower. Sadly, neither of those models were available for test drives, but with its six-speed manual transmission, sport seats, lowered suspension and more power, the ST should be far more entertaining than lesser Fiestas.

At least the cabin is a pleasant place to wait for the car to get up to speed, although the seats are small (everything inside is small). The Titanium trim is especially nice, with decent leather, soft-touch panels on the doors where elbows touch, a meaty steering wheel and a truly fine optional Sony audio system. New for 2014 is the incorporation of MyFord Touch, but whether this is a positive development is debatable, given our general distaste for the system’s function.

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