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2015 Ford Fiesta REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Limited cargo and rear-seat space; automatic transmission's quirky behavior; EcoBoost engine and ST model are manual transmission only.

Interior: You'll find that Ford's least expensive model line doesn't necessarily shout the fact: The 2015 Fiesta's cabin has several unexpected up-level trim pieces and is noticeably well assembled. Metallic accents spruce up what many expect to be a monotone black, while available premium touches – ambient lighting, heated leather seating, a touchscreen infotainment system and navigation, for example – definitely stave off the "economy car" aura many might expect from the Fiesta's interior.

The standard Sync system allows voice control over the audio system and your cell phone, and it also provides such features as voice-prompted turn-by-turn navigation and emergency assist. Pairing the Sync system to your phone and getting it set up is difficult, and besides its Bluetooth phone capability, we generally find ourselves using Sync as a work-around for the standard, form-over-function radio interface. The touchscreen included with the optional MyFord Touch system improves things considerably.

Interior space is generous up front, with a driver seat that easily adjusts for a wide range of driver heights. The backseat is definitely on the tight side, however, even for this pint-sized segment. The Fiesta sedan has a decent trunk capacity of 12.8 cubic feet, and the hatchback's space behind the rear seats is a tad bigger at 14.9 cubic feet. You can fold the rear seats down, but the maximum capacity of 26 cubic feet is still skimpy for a subcompact hatchback.

The ST's interior has a bit more style, with available two-tone color schemes and includes virtually the entire Fiesta option book. The optional Recaro sport seats with their large side bolsters wrap around and hug both front occupants. As such, they hold you securely in place while you're hustling the ST along a curvy road. But those aggressive bolsters make getting in and out of the car a little harder, and larger folks may find the seats uncomfortable on long trips.

Body: The 2015 Ford Fiesta is a subcompact car available in two body styles: a sedan and a four-door hatchback. Both are available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. The high-performance ST model is available only as a hatchback.

The base S comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, power locks and mirrors, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and various Ford Sync functions (iPod/USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice controls, some app-based services and certain safety communications functions).

The Fiesta SE includes all of the above, plus 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a trip computer, metallic-painted interior trim, a front center console with armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and multicolor ambient lighting.

The SE Appearance package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a rear spoiler (sedan), upgraded cloth seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob, the MyFord Touch interface with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and Sync Services (traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions), and satellite radio. The Comfort package includes heated front seats, heated side mirrors and automatic climate control. The SE is eligible for the Fuel Economy (SFE) package, which includes special tires, wheels and aerodynamic pieces to help the Fiesta achieve slightly better fuel economy, along with the further option of the EcoBoost turbocharged engine.

At the top of the Fiesta food chain is the Titanium trim, which essentially incorporates the contents of the SE Appearance and Comfort packages, but wears a different set of 16-inch wheels, plus chrome exterior trim and a black grille. It also has a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver seat lumbar adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with MyFord Touch functionality, an eight-speaker Sony sound system and HD radio.

The Fiesta ST hatchback has all of the Fiesta SE amenities and features unique bodywork, foglamps, dual exhaust tips, a six-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, quicker steering and upgraded brakes. Inside you'll find automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, a leather-wrapped shift knob, the MyFord Touch interface, the Sony sound system and HD radio, along with ST-specific cloth sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum-trimmed pedals, floor mats and door sill plates. The ST Recaro package adds heated Recaro front sport seats, leather and cloth upholstery and heated mirrors. Also available are gray-painted 17-inch wheels with red brake calipers.

A sunroof and a navigation system are stand-alone options on SE, Titanium and ST models.

Driving: If you appreciate sharp, nimble handling and like similar traits in steering, the 2015 Fiesta will be a standout on your consideration list. Although the Fiesta isn't necessarily "fast" by most measures, the car's quick steering and well-controlled body motions encourage you to maintain momentum and make the Fiesta seem faster than its numbers suggest. The quiet cabin and well-tuned suspension also help the Fiesta feel stable and secure when you're driving on the highway.

The standard Fiesta's 1.6-liter four-cylinder is plenty good for zipping around town and daily suburban errands, and it revs as sweetly as any engine of this size. The Powershift automatic transmission, which is essentially a manual gearbox that operates the clutch for you, gets the most power possible out of the engine and aids fuel economy, but you may find its behavior odd – especially when creeping forward or when it rolls back slightly on hills.

If you're willing to row your own gears, the EcoBoost three-cylinder engine is a gem, delivering excellent fuel economy and acceleration. It's well worth the extra cost. For true, outright fun, though, the Fiesta ST is one of the best performance bargains on the market. The Fiesta's inherent agility is turned up to 11, while its turbocharged four-cylinder produces easily accessible power and a snarling engine note. In some ways, it's even more fun to drive than the bigger and pricier Focus ST.

What’s New: There is some minor shuffling of content for the 2015 Fiesta and a new Performance Blue color available for the performance-focused Fiesta ST.

The base engine for the 2015 Ford Fiesta is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed "Powershift" automatic transmission is optional. Powershift is an automated manual transmission that shifts gears without any action needed from you, but is more efficient than a traditional automatic transmission.

In Edmunds performance testing, both the manual and Powershift-equipped Fiesta went from zero to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds. That's average for a manual, but better than average for an automatic.

The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway) with the Powershift transmission. We achieved 33.4 mpg on our official Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route. The manual transmission is barely lower at an EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined (28/36). When you opt for the Fuel Economy package (automatic transmission required), the numbers edge up to 32 mpg combined (28/38).

The optional "EcoBoost" 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder produces 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed manual is the only transmission available. In Edmunds performance testing, this mighty little engine brought the Fiesta from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, which is a quick time for the class. At the same time, it returns 36 mpg combined (31/43), matching the thriftiest cars in the class. We observed 37 mpg on the Edmunds evaluation route.

The 2015 Ford Fiesta ST's turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder pumps out 197 hp and an impressive 202 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered. At the Edmunds test track the Fiesta ST sprinted to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, making it easily the quickest car in its class. EPA estimates for the ST stand at 29 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway).

Safety: Every 2015 Ford Fiesta comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum for non-ST models; four-wheel discs for the ST), traction and stability control, an integrated blind-spot mirror, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. The newly standard Sync features include a 911 Assist function, which uses your paired cell phone to connect automatically to a 911 operator. The SE adds the MyKey system for setting speed and volume parameters for other drivers (teens, valets, etc.), while the Titanium model features a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.

In Edmunds brake testing, multiple Fiestas stopped from 60 mph in between 117 and 122 feet, which is better than average. The Fiesta ST stopped in just 112 feet, which is acceptable for a car with summer tires.

In government crash testing, the Fiesta received four out of five stars for combined overall protection, with four stars for frontal protection and two stars for side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fiesta the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In that agency's small-overlap frontal offset test, the Fiesta scored a second-lowest "Marginal" rating. The Fiesta's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Pro: Sporty handling, particularly with the ST model; upscale interior; available luxury features; stable highway road manners; powerful and efficient EcoBoost engine.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Ford Fiesta is a fun-to-drive small car, with a nicely trimmed cabin, excellent build quality and plenty of connectivity features. If you're looking for an economy sedan or hatchback that feels like a more expensive car than it really is, the Fiesta deserves serious consideration.

Introduction: Affordable to buy, cheap to operate and entertaining to drive are three of our primary criteria for a desirable economy car, and the 2015 Ford Fiesta has no problem scoring high on each. A classier-than-expected interior and fully up-to-date infotainment equipment only underscore our feeling that the Fiesta is a subcompact car that punches well above its price class.

We appreciate the fact that Ford doesn't seemingly penalize you for shopping the least expensive car in its showroom. Every Fiesta hits the streets with upmarket styling, a well-fitted interior with some unexpectedly nice finishes, plus an array of electronic must-haves such as Bluetooth phone connectivity and an iPod connector as standard equipment. And if you want your fuel-sipping Fiesta to coddle you like a car costing thousands more, available equipment that once was inconceivable in a subcompact model includes push-button start, a large touchscreen infotainment interface and heated seats, with or without leather.

At the fundamental level, though, those considering a subcompact car prioritize fuel economy and the 2015 Ford Fiesta exceeds expectations in this metric, too. Its zingy 1.6-liter four-cylinder may not be the most efficient in the segment, but its EPA-estimated 31 mpg in combined driving is still pretty frugal. There's also the delightful turbocharged "EcoBoost" three-cylinder, which improves both fuel economy and acceleration. There's also the sport-tuned Fiesta ST model, which is one of the best performance bargains around.

For these and other virtues, the Fiesta received an "A" rating from our editors, but know that the more spacious and practical Honda Fit also receives our top rating in this segment. Both are also top recommended cars in our 2015 Sedan Buying Guide. Other competitors didn't quite reach that pinnacle, but are nevertheless still worth consideration. The Chevrolet Sonic is just as rewarding to drive as the Fiesta, while the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio are smart-looking choices with lengthy warranties and commendable value. All, unlike the Fit, are available as sedans and hatchbacks.

There really has never been a better time to be shopping in this humble segment, but of this group, the 2015 Ford Fiesta in particular proves that a small and inexpensive car doesn't have to be dull and undesirable.

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