It’s been a year. On this very day one year ago, I took delivery of an oval-badged, ovoid-shaped, three-cylinder hatchback.
My 1.0-liter Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta, with its five manually-operated forward gears and turbocharged torque has provided 12 months and over 10,000 miles of mostly trouble-free driving. Two oil changes and no need for other maintenance have kept operating costs low. And its 17-inch Maxxim Winner wheels, provided by Discount Tire, and Michelin Premier A/S tires have classed up the joint much more than I could from the factory.
I don’t regret my decision to plunk down my own hard-earned cash on Ford’s most diminutive vehicle (in terms of overall size and engine displacement) sold in North America, but it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, either.
Tires and mileage
In my last update, I mentioned throwing on a new wheel and tire combo to replace the no-option-available 15-inch steel wheels and OE-equipped Hankook Optimo H426 donuts. Going into the swap, I wanted to find out a few things:
Answer: No, the Michelins aren’t quieter, but they aren’t louder either.
Answer: Yes and no, but more on that in a moment.
Answer: I don’t know. That’s to be determined. But so far, so good.
On the topic of fuel economy, the Michelin Premier A/S rubber does have a fuel economy cost versus the stock Hankook Optimo H426.
After multiple tanks of fuel last fall and this spring on the Michelins compared to the 15-inch no-season Hankooks over the winter (don’t lecture me about winter tires; I know they’re safer, but there’s good reason I went back to the stock rubber), the difference in fuel economy is 0.2L/100km — not even 1 mile per gallon.
For the better looks provided by the new wheels and the supposed increased performance of the Michelins, that’s a fuel-economy cost I’m more than willing to absorb.
Sync Basic sucks
All infotainment systems suck. But that Ford has the temerity to force those of us wanting the other Fiesta to use Sync Basic does the car no favors on the dealer lot, as MyFord Touch and SYNC3 aren’t available on this particular trim.
Time and time again, I curse Sync Basic and its myriad of buttons, menus, and submenus. It’s not just usability, either. The system is riddled with bugs. Sometimes it will play music via Bluetooth, usually on a Tuesday when the stars are in alignment and the Leafs are in playoff contention. (I guess Sync won’t be playing music anytime soon.) Other times it will completely freeze up.
I’ve scoured the Internet looking for an aftermarket solution to replace this factory-equipped abomination. Frustratingly, I’ve had no luck so far.
If you’re an enterprising Chinese manufacturer of electronic goods at low, low prices, may I suggest you get into the non-DIN audio replacement game?
Compared to General Motors …
When I drove the new Chevrolet Cruze Hatch a couple of months ago, I went on a mild quality tirade. After all, the previous-generation Cruze had a stellar interior. Why couldn’t General Motors improve on it?
Regardless, a couple of commenters asked how it compares to the Fiesta. Instead of describing the differences, here they are in pictures.
First, the Fiesta:
Now, the Cruze:
The differences are stark. There’s only one (barely) visible seam for the two door-handle halves on the Fiesta. All other panel terminations are recessed and hidden. Even though the Fiesta doesn’t get the fancy chrome trim, it doesn’t need it, and it all feels solid.
That said, the plastic door handles in the Fiesta do scratch easily, but at least they don’t call attention to themselves at first glance.
To the hood lever next!
The Fiesta’s hood-release lever is smaller, hidden away, and has a strong pin holding it in place, instead of the flimsy-armed hood release on the Cruze.
And the center console?
Panel gaps in the Fiesta are tight and there are no hard edges. You can’t see the underlying “lips” that hold the pieces together in alignment. Yet, on the Cruze, a car that costs a decent amount more, we are welcomed by crumb-and-dirt-trapping chasms.
If Ford can do all this in a subcompact car, shouldn’t General Motors be able to do it in a compact car that’s significantly newer?
On the flip side of all this, I’ve noticed the Fiesta is prone to rock chips, as my hood looks like the face of a hormonal teenager. I don’t know if it’s paint thickness or simply the bluntness of the Fiesta’s front end that makes a great surface for road debris to make their best Pollack knockoff, but it’s probably time to head to a dealer and pick up a pen of Tuxedo Black.
More power is almost finally here
The three-cylinder EcoBoost mill cranks out a fairly tepid 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. When I purchased the car, I was hoping COBB or another tuning house would whip up some magic to give the 1.0 liter a little more grunt. Unfortunately, COBB isn’t the slightest bit interested, and neither is Mountune, Ford Performance’s tuner of choice.
Thankfully, PumaSpeed of the UK has come to the rescue with a U.S.-spec friendly, multistage tune for the 1.0-liter EcoBoost, which offers a significant performance improvement from the Stage 1 tune without the need to swap out parts.
Yeah, I’m seriously thinking about it.
Next quest: chase performance or cherish comfort?
Even with the 17-inch wheels, the Fiesta is a comfortable subcompact. Yes, it can be a little noisy on the highway. And yes, the seats aren’t thrones upon which drivers and passengers can lay their backsides in a pillowy embrace. But for the segment, I’m not complaining.
With that said, the Fiesta is softly sprung and I’d love to drop its ride height by just a smidge without losing ride quality. I’d also like to plan for a time when I boost the smithereens out of its little three-pot and take it to an autocross to compete with the many STs.
At the same time, I don’t want to do a damn thing. This look is good enough. The performance is good enough. The ride is good enough. And I don’t want to ruin any of it.
What do you think, B&B?
[Image: © 2016-2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]