Posted Nov 27th 2012 6:00PM
There's an analogy to diesel engines hiding in the new Ford Fiesta with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost powerplant. There's still a segment of the population that has bad memories of diesel engines, and that makes it harder for Audi or Volkswagen to sell their new clean diesels in the US today. Not impossible, but more of a challenge than it needs to be. In the same way, ask any car geek if they've had good experiences with three-cylinder engines, and the response is likely to be a flashback to a bad ride in a Geo Metro.
But, if no one were to tell you that the new Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost is rocking three cylinders, you'd probably be hard pressed to notice. The engine has already found a home in the Ford Focus (read our Quick Spin) and, after driving about 160 kilometres (100 miles) around Los Angeles and the Malibu hills in a Euro-spec Fiesta equipped with one, we can safely say that this is a solid B-segment car – one that happens to get over 5.9L/100km (40 miles per gallon EPA) (city) without a hybrid powertrain. Here's what we learned about the car and Ford's plans to bring it to the North America.
- The Fiesta with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is already on sale in Europe, and will come to North America in about a year, in late 2013. There will be a few little changes (the Econetic badges will be replaced with the EcoBoost wording that we have here) and what we think is a big one. Specifically, auto start-stop, which is available on the European model, will not be an option for Americans. The reason, we were told, is that B-segment customers are extremely price sensitive, and spending a few hundred extra bucks on this technology – which the EPA tests still don't quite understand – is something Ford doesn't expect them to do. There is still a chance this will change, though.
- Still, at an estimated 5.9 L/100km EPA (40+ mpg EPA), this flavor of the Fiesta will likely be the "most fuel-efficient, non-hybrid vehicle sold in North America." The current high-mileage Fiesta SFE model gets 5.9L/100KM (40mpg) on the highway and (7.1 L/100km (33 combined), 8.1 L/100km (29 city)). Ford is not talking about combined or city mpg estimates for the new Fiesta just yet.
- It bears repeating that you do not feel that this is a shaky three-cylinder engine. The power – 123 horses – is there when you want it, with plenty of low-end torque. Some people on our drive were bothered by noise from the high-speed turbocharger that spins up to 248,000 rpm "almost instantaneously," but this is not enough to detract many points from the overall package.
- Also, since a three-cylinder engine is inherently imbalanced, Ford optimized the engine mounts and made other adjustments to decouple engine shaking forces for "extreme smoothness." It worked.
- For shorter people, the low placement of the side mirrors, especially on the passenger side, might be a problem. I'm about 5'9", and it was fine, but my co-pilot on this drive was a few inches shorter and she could not easily use the mirrors. They do sit awfully low, as you can see here.
- Going around tight corners, the Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost feels a heckuva lot better than the Honda Fit in the same situation, but we found it roughly the same as the new Chevrolet Spark, two vehicles it will compete against for frugal-minded city drivers.
- Some of the other ways the new Fiesta will try to set itself apart is the big "40+ mpg!" sign that's sure to be emblazoned all over the dealership, the connectivity of Sync and MyFordTouch (with a new, 6.5-inch touch screen) and Sony HD radio.
- Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service and Lincoln, said the new Fiesta is part of Ford's new high-mpg line-up, making fuel economy a reason to buy a Ford. It used to be, he said, "when people thought fuel economy, they did not think of Ford. We have made a tremendous amount of progress in the last few years of changing that perception."
Related GalleryFord Fiesta 1.0-litre Ecoboost (Euro-spec)
Ford 1.0-Litre EcoBoost Engine Sets the Standard for Smoothness and Quietness in Small Engines
Innovative engine mounts, flywheel and pulley in the new 1.0-liter Ford EcoBoost® engine combine to dramatically reduce the vibrations that are inherent in three-cylinder engines
Super-stiff block, isolated fuel injectors and oil-immersed timing belts help make 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine one of Ford's quietest engines
1.0-liter EcoBoost engine debuts in North America in the redesigned 2014 Ford Fiesta
For more information, visit the 2014 Ford Fiesta Press Kit.
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 26, 2012 – Start up Ford's patented new 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost® engine and chances are you'll have to look at the tachometer to verify that the engine is running.
Ford engineers always knew they could build a powerful, fuel-efficient three-cylinder engine. The real engineering magic would be solving the problem that has often sunk previous three-cylinder automobile engines – conquering the unpleasant vibrations that come from having an odd number of cylinders under the hood.
For Ford's new three-cylinder engine to be successful, it would have to be a no-compromise engine. It could not force customers to choose between performance versus economy or responsiveness versus smoothness. It had to deliver it all and it had to be affordable.
The traditional way of reducing shaking forces in small-displacement engines is to install a counter-rotating balance shaft inside the motor that cancels out most vibrations. But the problem with a balance shaft, explains Andy Delicata, Ford of Europe manager of Powertrain Noise, Vibration and Harshness, is that it is heavy, expensive, and it reduces fuel economy.
The 1.0-liter's NVH engineering team, led by Delicata at Ford Technical Centres in Dunton and Dagenham, England, attacked the problem by focusing on two areas – the engine's front pulley and rear flywheel, and the mounting system that connects the powertrain with the car's body.
The pulley and flywheel are unbalanced with weights that are placed precisely to counteract the natural shaking forces of the engine and drive the energy in a less sensitive direction. The engine mounts are designed to decouple as well as absorb the engine's shaking forces, Delicata explained.
The result is one of the smoothest and quietest engines in Ford's global lineup. "We like to compare the refinement of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with what you would typically experience in a vehicle two or three classes up from Fiesta and Focus," said Delicata.
The smoothness of the engine is complemented by class-leading quietness. Engineers in Dunton and Dagenham attacked engine noise at its many sources.
For instance, a super-compact, highly stiff cast-iron block structure and an integrated engine mounting bracket are crucial in absorbing noise energy. In addition to immersing the engine's toothed rubber timing belts in oil, isolated fuel injectors electronically controlled for soft landing and a foam-covered engine collectively help keep noise and vibration from reaching the driver.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is off to a fast start in Europe. Since its launch in March in the Focus, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine has won four major international awards. In the Focus, the 1.0-liter engine accounts for about 30 percent of sales, no small feat in a part of the world where the diesel engine is king.
The 1.0-liter is just now launching in B-MAX and C-MAX, and will be available in North America next year in the redesigned 2014 Ford Fiesta.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
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