Saturday Road Test – Just 1.0 liter!!!!

Ford's 1.0 liter 3

Ford Fiesta

A 1.0 liter 3 (!) is all you need

By Ron Amadon

BARNESVILLE, MD. – On the face of it, putting a 1.0 liter engine with just three cylinders in any car would have you worrying about performance, noise and vibration – enough so that you would want to go back to the horses that once called on this historic and nicely refurbished town hall.

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At least them horsies had four – legs that is.

But thanks to some smart engineers in Great Britain and Germany, this little three, that Ford maintains is small enough to fit into carry-on luggage, is a winner. In fact, European journalists named it Engine of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Matched only to a five speed manual transmission, the turbocharged engine had an abundance of low end torque that made merging onto an interstate, or starting up from a red light, a breeze. I will confidently wager that your passengers will think there is a bigger engine under the hood. As you will see, fourth and fifth gears are mainly for cruising.

You are looking at 123 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 125 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm with peak torque at just 1,400 rpm. An overboost function allows it to make more than 145 lb-ft of torque for up to 15 seconds.

A bit noisy on its way up through the gears things settle down quickly on the highway. Cruise at 70 and the tach will show you just 2,500 rpm. Crank it up to 80 and the Mighty Mouse engine it is still in loafing mode at 3,000 rpm.

A three cylinder normally has unpleasant vibrations that come from having an odd number of cylinders. Instead of using a balance shaft that is heavy, expensive and reduces fuel economy, Ford uses a pulley and flywheel that are placed precisely to counteract the shaking forces of the engine along with engine mounts that absorb those forces as well. Various other steps were taken to reduce noise and vibration.

The EPA rates the combination at 32 city, 45 highway, for a combined 37 mpg. I came away with a total of 35 mpg generously working the old rpms.

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Yet the gearbox could be improved with vague motions and long throws. Other drawbacks were minimal rear seat leg room and seats that didn’t fold completely flat in the tested hatchback. There is a total of 26 cubic feet max cargo capacity compared to 52.7 cubic feet in the rival Honda Fit. Yet I was able to wedge in two vacuum cleaners from the repair shop.

Also the design of the driver’s side door pull is on the large size, and tends to keep the left knee in rather uncomfortable company.

The seats were cozy and easy to adjust, fit and finish were good and a small window between the tach and speedo relayed lots of information to the driver.

A reasonable $290 “Comfort Package” brought soon to be very welcome touches such as heated first row seats, heated side mirror, and automatic temperature control.

That brought the MRSP to a reasonable $18,585 on the test car including transportation.

The Ecoboost three package will cost you an extra $995 over the base 1.6 liter, 120 hp four, but it is the best multiple George Washington’s you have ever spent if the Fiesta talks to you, and you are not ready to step up to the more sporty ST.

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