Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2014 Ford Fiesta / Fiesta ST test drive review. The party just got better

Over the next several weeks, I’m going to have the opportunity to try out several new cars from various manufacturers.  But I doubt any of them will be as fun as the 2014 Fiesta ride and drive that I recently attended in Malibu, Calif.  I was able to experience a genuinely competent and surprisingly affordable compact car on one of the most scenic driving routes in the country.

Fiesta ST

The big news for 2014 is the addition of the performance-minded Fiesta ST five-door.  It might just seem like a minor trim option, but if you want a hot rod hatchback, the ST delivers.  At first glance, you’ll obviously notice the 17-inch wheels, more aggressive ground effects, grille, and roof spoiler changes.  But it’s behind the wheel that you’ll find the biggest enhancements.  Our test car had the optional Recaro seats (incredibly supportive and fantastic, assuming you’re of narrow stature), and all STs come with a slick six-speed manual transmission. 

Under the hood, you have a 1.6-liter, 197-hp, turbocharged four.  This provides a lot of suds for a 2,700-lb car, and it cackles back fantastically at the command of your right foot.  Add enhanced suspension, summer tires, and beefy brakes, and you wonder why it took this long for Ford to bring this package over from Europe.  Now, while much of our drive was on curvy mountain roads, my stint in the ST was along the Pacific Coast Highway from our Santa Monica hotel over to Malibu.  So I spent more time dodging traffic than carving corners.  But even at that, I am happy to report that the ST was truly fun to drive.

Fiesta S, SE, Titanium

Not everyone wants or needs a high-strung sports compact for their daily commute.  That’s why the Fiesta continues to be offered in its popular, less-intense iterations.  Like the ST, the rest of the Fiesta line is offered in a five-door hatchback configuration, but if you really want a sedan for some reason, they’ll build you one of those too.

You can easily tell a 2014 Fiesta from the previous model by the hexagonal grille shape that mimics the latest Fusion.  Most people I talk to say it has an Aston Martin vibe, but it is enhancing the family resemblance throughout the Ford lineup.   The lighting in the instrument panel has changed from Pontiacesque red to ice blue, and a six-and-a-half-inch touch screen is now available.  In keeping with the technological nature of today’s small car buyers, Ford’s Sync system is now standard, and Ford has made some improvements to the available six-speed automatic transmission.

I was able to take spirited drives in these cars around the Malibu Creek State Park through winding mountain roads, and it never felt like I was driving a sub-$20,000 compact.  These cars handled and felt great.  The fit and finish was spot-on, even in these early-build cars.  The controls, switches, and contact points felt like they belonged in a more expensive car.  And it had an overall feel of quality that even the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit that we had for comparison lacked.  It is amazing how far we’ve come from the old Ford Escort/Chevy Cavalier days of low-priced small cars.

Currently, power comes from a 1.6-liter, 120-hp four cylinder, but if you want to top the 40-mpg highway rating, hang on for the upcoming 1.0-liter, 123-hp turbocharged three-banger.  Ford does a nice job with their EcoBoost powertrains, so that one might be a hoot.

Fiesta Movement

When Ford introduced the Fiesta, they embarked on a social media campaign called the Fiesta Movement.  For the current refresh, they’re calling it the Fiesta Movement—a Social Remix.  They loan cars to influential Twitterers, Facebookers, and bloggers with the expectation that they’ll document their experiences with them.  As I was walking from our hotel down to the Santa Monica Pier, I happened to spot one of the Fiesta Movement cars.  The young lady behind the wheel even had a smart phone in her hand, so I would suspect that she was telling someone about her Fiesta.  I was just excited that I spent a day with the people that market and design the Fiesta, and not an hour later I found one of their minions.

Liz Elser, who heads up the marketing team for the Fiesta, is not only responsible for the Fiesta Movement promotion, but she also provided a little swag for our meetings.  We each got a bottle of nail polish that matched one of the new high-intensity colors on the 2014 Fiesta.  Now the guidebook publishers at this event were all guys, but that didn’t mean the gesture went to waste.  While I was in a closing meeting, my wife tried out the new “Ford Fiesta Storm” hue, which she is modeling in this picture.

Anyway, I wanted to thank Rick Frost, Rose Peng, Yi Lu, and Waldek Raczkowski from Ford’s GLAD team, John Davis, Mike Interian, Mike Mazzella, Paul Kueber, Damoni Hurt, and Liz Elser from the Fiesta team, and Mike Kuta, Maggie McClatchey, and Hillary Mulka from PCG Campbell for making this such a nice event.  I was very fortunate to get to go drive these cars, and I genuinely appreciate all the effort everyone put into it.

You can check out the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.


  1. Wow! What a surprise for me, as certain images come up when I hear Ford Fiesta! It was nice to read your blog and have my opinion totally changed, in a good way! Great write up!

  2. Good writeup. Nice car. Love southern California. Thanks!!

  3. Cool ! Love the nail polish !