Even though Ford’s 1.0 Litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine has been named International Engine of The Year for the third year in a row, I never bought into the hype.
Why? Because the tried and true adage in American car culture has always been “there is no replacement for displacement.”
I could never comprehend how the smallest engine on sale in the U.S. could effectively produce 125 horsepower and 148 lb/ft of torque without the high-pitched buzzing of a kitchen blender or the turbo lag of a ’80s-era rally car. In fact, the engine block of the diminutive power plant is small enough to fit inside a piece of carry-on luggage.
But I recently spent a day behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost cruising around the twisty country roads on the northern fork of Long Island, and my preconceived notions of what a small engine should be eroded one by one. Throughout the day, I did my best to push the car as far I could, and it never once backed down from the challenge.
I was truly surprised not just by the amount of power the engine produced, but also how the German-built engine actually functioned. The 1.0 has an incredibly flat and consistent torque curve that is rare in small engines, let alone one with a turbo. The engine pulled hard from 1,300 revs all the way up to 5,000 rpm. Even when loaded down with four full-sized adults after a heavy meal and air conditioning on full blast, the EcoBoost never felt over-matched. In fact, the motor even left a bit of extra passing power to help me get into the left lane.
The 1.0 EcoBoost also surprised by producing a rather pleasant sound. Instead of the kitchen blender buzz, I was treated to a muted rumble interspersed with the satisfying whoosh of the turbo’s wastegate.
When paired with the sub-compact Fiesta, the EPA claims the 1.0 EcoBoost will return 32 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway.
On a combination of twisty country roads, highway cruising, and Manhattan rush hour traffic, our “green envy” coloured Fiesta hatchback flirted with 40mpg even when fully loaded with passengers and equipment.
As for the Fiesta, Ford has built quite a nice little runabout. With the 1.0 motor, the company has chosen to pair it exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission. Though the shifter was a bit rubbery and the throws a bit long, the gearbox worked well and managed the engine effectively.
The exterior styling is highlighted by the company’s signature “salmon face” or “baby Aston Martin” front fascia. The interior is surprisingly spacious, and fit four adults comfortably, though a fifth middle seat passenger would have felt a bit squished. The chic angular front dash evokes the Fiesta’s European heritage, though I found the layout to be a bit cluttered.
Overall, the 1.0 EcoBoost and the Fiesta went above and beyond my expectations. The overall package was stylish, economical, and effective. With a price tag of just $US17,000, the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost is a wonderful small car that should definitely warrant at least a look if not serious consideration.
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