In 2012, Ford Motor Company introduced a revolutionary engine at their LA Auto show: a small, turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine capable of high-end performance and wallet-friendly fuel economy. Transported in a humble suitcase, the 210 pound engine block was to be used in European Focus models in 2013, and American Fiesta models the following year. With impressive specs and cutting-edge automotive engineering, the tiny engine had a lot to prove.
This year, Ford Motor Company has released its new, revised 2014 Ford Fiesta, with its new turbocharged, 1.0 Liter EcoBoost inline-3 engine. At first, most automotive enthusiasts may be stunned by the uniquely compact sized engine, and possibly question it’s performance. Yet after a 15 minute ride with Gene, one of our sales consultants, all my hesitation was put to rest. By embedding this vehicle with cutting edge technology with extreme intuition, Ford created the ultimate commuting vehicle. With 45mpg on the highway, and 32 in city, the fuel economy is outstanding, but at what cost? Small, high revving inline engines are notorious for vibration and noise, however, the Ford Fiesta hums no louder then a bumble bee. So how does Ford make a quite, compact, 1.oL car suitable for the most demanding of commuters? Reporting from Acton Ford, we bring you an inside look on this game changing car.
Approaching the red 2014 Fiesta hatchback SE, we took a good walk around. The car is of medium size, with plenty of leg room in the front, and minimum leg room in the back. Gene and I popped open the hood, and were immediately awed by the smallest, modern car engine that we’ve ever seen. Excited we both jumped in, and took the car for a spin. The newly designed 2014 interior was very nicely equipped, with aesthetically pleasing digital displays, and a comfort orientated center console. Gene and I were very satisfied with Ford’s effort to modernize and improve such interior features, yet the biggest test still lied ahead.
At the touch of the accelerator, Gene and I started brainstorming for any possible criticism for this “concept come to life”. The Fiesta surfed the roads with spectacular handling, and shifted smoothly from one gear to the next, pinpointing the modern standard for performance. The acceleration was consistent and powerful in each gear, with a noticeable “boost” from the turbo early in the RPM range. In general, the Fiesta surpassed my expectations in terms of acceleration, and Gene reported very smooth, easy shifts from the comfortable manual transmission. Leaving the car, Gene and I had hardly any complaints, yet we noted that larger rear passengers may have less then ideal leg room. With my skepticism put to rest, I had to investigate the automotive engineering behind such an innovative, concept driven car. Let’s take a look at what type of technology Ford has incorporated into 2014 Fiesta to build the best commuter car to this date.
Twin-independent Variable Camshaft Timing
Ti-VCT allows the camshafts to function “independently” from each other simultaneously to optimize fuel efficiency and power. This provides unmatched fuel economy during low load conditions, yet superb accelerations. During the 15 minute ride, I requested to see the Fiesta merge onto a highway, for the specific reason to see how a 1.0L engine could compare to road full of 2.0L+ engine equipped vehicles. To my surprise, at the touch of the accelerator the Fiesta jolted with power and merged with no problem what so ever. The power band was very broad, with steady acceleration throughout the entire RPM range.
1.oL EcoBoost I-3 Crankshaft
Instead of using the conventional balance shafts, Ford’s engineers intentionally kept the flywheel and crank pulley unbalanced, which in combination with the enhanced powertrain mounting to offset the primary engine movement caused by the inline-3. This resulted in a balanced, quiet engine without the reduced fuel economy of traditional balance shafts. Even after reading the theory, I was very skeptical that a seemingly random movement can be offset by another random movement, rather than by the time tested balance shafts. However throughout the ride, ford spare parts cruised with ease, with little to no vibrations and but a hum from the engine.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta EcoBoost engine also comes equipped with the EcoBoost Turbocharger, a gas-friendly, compact sized supercharger that utilizes the otherwise wasted exhaust to provide a desirable boost. Early in RPM range, the turbine kicks-in, forcing air into the intake to give the 1.0L inline adequate power throughout the entire RPM range without hindering the outstanding fuel economy. Specifically engineered for low vibration and noise ratings, you feel the turbine more than you hear it. Conclusively, the EcoBoost Turbo allows for a smaller, gas efficient engine with powerful accelerations.
EcoBoost Gasoline Direct-Injection
Ford engineers have cleverly coupled the turbocharger with the EcoBoost Gasoline Direct-Injection that controls fuel use with spectacular precision based on the engine’s operating conditions. Unlike more primitive injectors that premix the fuel with intake air, the Direct-Injection sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber. The high-pressure injectors are controlled by an electronic control system that adjusts the timing and intensity, resulting in reliable acceleration and fuel use.
Fail-Safe Cooling System
Furthermore, Ford’s engineers have integrated a fail-safe cooling system, an outstanding preventive measure that preserves the EcoBoost engine in the case of coolant failure. Once the engine heat sensors read a dangerous temperature, the system switches from normal all-cylinder operation to alternating cylinder operation. The non-powered cylinders act as air pumps, cooling the powered cylinders, and in-turn cooling the entire engine to operating temperature. This protects the engine from overheating and the damage that comes as a result, while keeping the Fiesta operational until it can be repaired at a service facility.
5-Speed Manual Transmission
The 2014 Ford Fiesta, inline-3 EcoBoost engine comes with a very nice 5-speed manual transmission. Each gear has a broad power range, giving the Fiesta a suitable balance of performance and fuel economy. The transmission is also equipped with two overdrive gears that reduce RPM at highway speeds to further aid gas efficiency. The hydraulic clutch has a lightweight plastic slave cylinder that allows for smooth shifting and minimize fuel use that results from shifting.
With cutting-edge engine technology, and innovative design, Ford has successfully brought a turbocharged commuter vehicle that boasts best-in-class fuel economy and fun performance, all unbelievably, from a tiny 3 cylinder engine. In the 2014 Fiesta, Ford also upgraded to digital console displays giving the interior a nice premium feel. The steering and handling is very responsive, carving the roads at the drivers will. The folding back seats expand cargo space significantly, yet when the seats are up, very little leg room is left for the rear passengers. This year, the Ford Fiesta adds the perfect commuter vehicle to their line-up; a very tempting option for today’s automotive consumers.