Two years after its American introduction, the Ford Fiesta has managed to claim a sizable chunk of the demand for tiny hatchbacks, even as competitors such as the Honda Fit, Chevy Sonic and Hyundai Accent have brought newer designs. Next year, Ford will attempt to restart the Fiesta with two new engines -- a three-cylinder for the gas-conscious crowd, and a 197-hp mill in the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST that should bring some punch to the party.
The speedster Fiesta will draw momentum from the same 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine used in the Ford Focus ST that Ford engineers claim will spin 214 ft.-lbs. of torque through an upgraded suspension while still returning 34 mpg on the highway. Those power levels will give the Fiesta ST more grunt than the Mini Cooper S or anything from its more pedestrian classmates. Ford didn't release a price on the Fiesta ST, nor say how many would be built, but the popularity of cars such as the Fiat 500 Abarth (which sold out) suggests a clamor for tiny cars that know how to scoot with a quickness.
The rest of the Fiesta lineup gets a typical mid-cycle basket of tweaks, including styling updates and a supposedly less complicated version of Ford's MyTouch entertainment/aggravation unit, which Ford vows will take more direct commands and hear better than the one it's already sold to thousands of customers. Under the hood lies the biggest change -- a 1-liter, three-cylinder engine, the smallest ever sold by Ford in the United States and a type of engine known mostly for powering the Geo Metro and the Smart ForTwo.
Ford says the 1-liter turbocharged unit will deliver 123 hp and allow the Fiesta to get more than 40 mpg on the highway, a level that the automaker claims will make it the most fuel efficient model in America outside of a hybrid. It's a hefty set of promises to make -- and a bet that for the next few years, small cars will only get more popular.