by Gabe Beita Kiser
The 2018 Ford Fiesta hatch is the continuation of the sixth generation subcompact hatchback in the US, with the 7th generation seen in the rest of the world unlikely to make it Stateside. That said, a punchy 1.6-liter inline-four motor offering 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque pairs with either a five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and the most engaging front-wheel-drive chassis in the segment for an exciting package to boot. Priced from just $14,505, three trim levels are offered with the Titanium Hatch packing the most luxury by offering Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system, a rear-view camera, cruise control, and auto-dimming rearview mirrors. With rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and Toyota Yaris, the Fiesta hatch is still a compelling proposition.
The Ford Fiesta line-up remains unchanged for the 2018 MY, with changes only expected for the upcoming MY 2019 Fiesta.
The MY 2018 Ford Fiesta is yet to benefit from the design upgrades endowed upon the rest of the Ford vehicle lineup. Drawn back headlights rest on either side of Ford's low-mounted hexagonal grille, with foglights featuring on all models above the base Fiesta S. The Fiesta S features 15-inch steel alloy wheels, while higher trims get larger, more stylish 16-inch alloys that fill the arches better. Blacked out B-pillars on all models open up the side profile, giving the compact Fiesta a larger appearance than the compact dimensions suggest, while at the rear, a large rear windscreen bodes well for rear visibility.
The Fiesta Hatch's dimensions don't differ too drastically to those of the Sedan, only measuring shorter in length by thirteen inches at 159.7 inches to the sedan's 173.5 inches. Its height of 58.1 inches, width of 71.6 inches, and wheelbase of 98 inches are otherwise shared with the sedan. The manually-equipped S and SE hatchbacks both weigh in at 2,537 lbs which is slightly lighter than the sedan counterparts. The automatic-equipped Titanium tips the scales at 2,575 lbs which is around 100 lbs lighter than the sedan derivative.
In the way of external paint colors, the S trim is limited to just three offerings - Shadow Black, Ingot Silver, and Oxford White - while the SE and Titanium offer up to nine hues to choose from, including Outrageous Green and Hot Pepper Red both with a charge of $395, and White Platinum at an extra cost of $595. Zero cost paint colors on offer are Magnetic, Lightning Blue, and Bohai Bay Mint. Either the Outrageous Green or Hot Pepper Red fit the sporty hatchback's aesthetic.
The 1.6-liter four-cylinder under the hood of all trims isn't exactly a lively specimen, hauling the Fiesta from 0-60 mph in a class-average 9.4 seconds. This makes the Fiesta slower than both the Honda Fit and the Chevrolet Sonic, which both reach the 60 mph mark around a full second quicker. The Fiesta's naturally aspirated engine's 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque is fine for tugging the lightweight hatch around town, but it lacks the solid mid-range punch of the old turbo three-cylinder, and it needs to be wrung out to access its full potential.
As with most compact vehicles in this segment, the Ford Fiesta is a front-wheel-drive hatchback with no alternatives offered by the Fiesta or any of its rivals.
The 2018 Ford Fiesta makes use of a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter inline-four developing 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque – figures that are less than rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and Honda Fit. That's the only engine available after the EcoBoost 1.0-liter was removed from the line-up in 2017. The 1.6-liter is naturally aspirated and as such requires some revving out to access the available power. Fortunately, the engine is quite pleasant to work, though the lack of torque can make overtaking troublesome, particularly in states with a higher altitude seeing greater power losses over turbocharged counterparts.
The engine drives the front wheels of the Fiesta through one of two gearbox offerings. The standard gearbox offering on S and SE trims is a five-speed manual gearbox, while a six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic offering is standard on the Titanium and optional on the lower two trim levels. The manual offers a confident shift and great gearing for city use, though it can be a little noisy at highway speeds. The six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift auto is better suited to highway cruising with the extra ratio, but is notoriously jerky at low speeds and doesn't handle quick decision making well. Of the two, the manual is the most user-friendly, and also the most reliable as the PowerShift has been notoriously problematic over the last few years with numerous recalls issued and even class-action lawsuits faced by Ford over the gearbox and the problems it presented.
The oldest by some margin in this segment, the Ford Fiesta is still the best driver's car out of the lot. The manual gearbox offers clean, precise shifts, while the chassis is by far the most playful – besting even the Honda Fit Sport. The suspension errs on the firmer side of things, but there's a certain joy it affords when you toss it down the street and the tautly sprung setup lets you know exactly what's happening at all four corners. The steering is adequately weighted and dishes out feedback by the heap but is never overwhelmingly sensitive. The brake pedal has an intuitive feel to it and is easy to modulate for suitable stopping responses in casual driving.
The Fiesta comes up short in terms of ride comfort in comparison to class rivals, particularly because of its tightly sprung suspension, short wheelbase, and average seat comfort. Road imperfections and typical undulations guarantee a choppy ride. It is, however, one of the quietest cars on the road, the cabin isolates tire and wind noise nicely, while the pleasant humming of the four-cylinder is still allowed some entry. The Ford Fiesta Hatchback is a daily commuter by-design, but one that reminds you driving should still be enjoyable.
According to the EPA, the 2018 Ford Fiesta offers a fuel consumption estimates of 27/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined. The PowerShift automatic offers the same city consumption, but the extra gear ratio offers improved economy on the highway with figures of 37 mpg. This highway figure pushes combined consumption on PowerShift equipped models to 31 mpg. Those averages put the 2018 Fiesta ahead of the Chevrolet Sonic (28 mpg), but behind the Toyota Yaris (32 mpg) and Honda Fit (33 mpg). The manually-equipped Fiesta's topped up 12.4-gallon gas tank offers a maximum range of around 372 miles before requiring a refill.
The Ford Fiesta's interior is showing its age compared to rivals such as the Honda Fit, but it's ergonomically sound offering a good seating position and easy to view and reach controls. The Fiesta hatch seats five, though the back seats are only suitable for two adults and a child at best in rather cramped quarters – the Fiesta lags well behind the Honda Fit for interior room in this segment. Split-folding rear seats are standard, as are LATCH connectors for child-safety seats. It's only on the top-spec Titanium that you can get full leather upholstery, with heated front seats, while higher trim models also get a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The Ford Fiesta seats five occupants, though two adults in the rear won't leave much room for anyone other than a small child in the middle. There's decent interior legroom, more than a Yaris, albeit less than the highly versatile Honda Fit. The interior design has aged since the Fiesta's introduction in 2011, though Ford is still keen to offer high-quality materials like leather on the main touchpoints. If you're looking for leather upholstery, however, you have to buy the pricier Titanium model. The driver's position at the wheel is good, and though limited to basic adjustability, finding an optimal driving position isn't a chore. All-round visibility is also good, and a standard-fit rearview camera adds to confident rearward mobility, the reverse sensing system in the Titanium even more so.
A basic cloth interior is standard on the Fiesta S hatch and is only available in Charcoal Black. On the SE, Charcoal Black or Medium Light Stone are available for the standard cloth seats, though optional sport cloth upholstery can be had either in Charcoal Black or Charcoal Black with red stitching. The Titanium trim gets leather upholstery as standard, with two colors to choose from – Charcoal Black and Medium Light Stone. A leather steering wheel and chromed touches can be had on certain trim lines, but for the most part, the interior panels are harsh grey plastic that doesn't feel classy at all.
The 2018 Ford Fiesta offers 14.9 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats, enough room for a week's worth of grocery shopping bags. With 25.4 cubic feet. on offer with the 60/40 split-folding rear seats flattened. This is well below what the class-leading Honda Fit offers and is also smaller than the Toyota Yaris and Chevrolet Sonic. Down on main luggage volume compared to rivals, the Fiesta does offer numerous in-cabin storage options for phones, wallets, and all the other small items you end up carrying. Large door pockets are great but only feature on the front doors, while elsewhere in the cabin you'll find four cup holders, plenty of smaller bins, and good storage capability available in the center console. Loading is easy due to the Fiesta hatch's low ride height compared to subcompact crossovers, but cargo volume is definitely the Fiesta's weakest aspect and betrays its age in the market.
Standard-fit features start at a minimum with the base Fiesta S. Base level features include a black-painted steering wheel, manual tilt and telescoping steering adjustment, manual windows, six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and standard airconditioning. The SE extends the standard features list with automatic on/off headlamps with wiper activation, ambient interior lighting, cruise control, power windows, and MyKey technology to help parents encourage responsible driving. The Titanium adds on with intelligent access with push-button start, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated and auto-dimming rearview mirrors, heated front seats, and electronic automatic temperature control. All trims feature an integrated rearview camera, SOS post-crash alert system, tire pressure monitoring system, and electronic stability control. A reverse sensing system is standard on the Titanium only.
Even though it's one of the better interfaces available on the market, the Fiesta's system gives off a tacky impression in a cheap setting. In the S and SE, you'll find a 4.2-inch LCD infotainment screen tethered to an AM/FM stereo/single-CD player with MP3 capability and an integrated six-speaker audio system. The SYNC system allows for voice recognition communication, Bluetooth, 911 Assist, and AppLink connectivity. The Titanium is fitted with a 6.5-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen and an eight-speaker Sony audio system. The SYNC 3 system boasts SiriusXM satellite radio and HD Radio functionality, as well as adding much-needed Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. A voice-activated navigation system with pinch-to-zoom capability and integrated SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with a five-year subscription is optional for the SE and Titanium but is unnecessary with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay covering navigation needs sufficiently.
While in most aspects the Ford Fiesta hatch is fairly reliable, that reliability falters when it comes to the PowerShift transmission which has notoriously suffered from clutch failure with low mileage. There have been recalls to rectify the problems; however, the manual is a far more reliable bet. Other issues that have plagued the Fiesta include a recall of earlier models for failing door latches that saw doors opening without prompting. Engine-wise, the Ford Fiesta's 1.6-liter unit is a highly reliable effort that has stood the test of time thus far.
The Ford Fiesta comes with a standard bumper to bumper warranty of three-years/36,000 miles, a powertrain warranty of five-years/60,000 miles, a safety restraint system warranty of five-years/60,000 miles, and a roadside assistance program of five-years/60,000 miles.
The NHTSA gave the Fiesta a four-star safety rating, though rear occupants could sustain a potential injury in the event of a side-on collision. The IIHS rated the Fiesta 'Good' in all tests except the small overlap test where it scored a 'Marginal', and the ease of use for LATCH anchors where the Fiesta scored 'Poor'.
The 2018 Ford Fiesta features seven standard airbags, as well as ABS, ESC, a post-crash alert system, and tire pressure monitoring. Rear park sensors are available, as is a reverse camera on higher trim lines. Higher specification models also get Ford's MyKey system that enables a second key to include a speed limited for parents to ensure the safety of children driving the Fiesta. The Fiesta is a fairly simple machine, and devoid of many pre-collision assistance systems. The new Fiesta offers a range of those, but it seems it's not bound for the US anytime soon.
Though the rest of the world has a new Ford Fiesta, for 2018 the USA soldiers on with the older, yet still robust model that's been with us from 2011. The subcompact hatchback remains the most driver-focused in class, with an engaging front-wheel-drive chassis, however since the EcoBoost motor was dropped from the lineup in 2017, enthusiasts may still find the performance somewhat lackluster. The Ford Fiesta hatch is a cracking car for those who enjoy the thrill of driving. But it is aging now, and with that, it brings a dated interior and looks that have become staid. Newer rivals also offer more cargo volume, both behind the rear seats and with the rear bench flattened, so if practicality and utility are what you're after, you'd be better off looking at the Honda Fit. If fun is what you're after, get the Fiesta, but whatever you do, get a manual and avoid the problematic PowerShift.
The 2018 Ford Fiesta hatch starts off at $14,505 for the base S trim, with the SE priced at $15,735 and the range-topping Titanium coming in at $19,495. An $875 destination fee is applicable to all models. That pricing sees the Fiesta coming in cheaper in base trim than the Hyundai Accent hatch at $14,995, and cheaper than almost all segment rivals. But if you're looking for the top-spec Titanium model, it's nearly $1,000 more than comparable top trims from rival brands.
Three trims make up the 2018 Ford Fiesta Hatchback line-up: S, SE, and Titanium. All are equipped with a front-mounted 1.6-liter inline-four engine and front-wheel-drive system coupled to a five-speed manual transmission in the S and SE or optional six-speed automatic which is standard in the Titanium.
The S is outfitted with manually-operated windows, a tilt and telescoping steering column, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and manual airconditioning. It features a 4.2-inch LCD infotainment display with AM/FM stereo/single-CD player with MP3 capability and a six-speaker audio system with SYNC functionality.
The SE builds on to those features with automatic on/off headlamps with wiper activation, intelligent access with push-button start, all-power-operated windows, cruise control, ambient interior lighting, and MyKey technology. The media hub receives a 12V power outlet.
Completing the range is the Titanium , boasting a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, electronic automatic climate control, and heated rearview mirrors. The infotainment setup is upgraded to a 6.5-inch touchscreen with SYNC 3 functionality and an eight-speaker Sony audio system. An additional smart-charging USB port is installed to the media hub.
While divided between the three main trims, there is a range of options and packages available. The PowerShift automatic transmission is available on both S and SE models for $1,095, while it's the standard gearbox on Titanium models. All models can be optioned with the keyless entry keypad for just $95.
Available on the SE Hatch, the SE Appearance Package will set you back $995 and includes 16-inch eight-spoke alloy wheels, chrome body detailing, SYNC 3, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, two USB ports, and sport cloth seat trim.
A cold weather package for the SE includes heated front seats, automatic climate control, and heated side mirrors. The cold weather package is standard on the Titanium model.
On SE and Titanium models, a power moonroof is also available for the price of $795.
The mid-spec SE gives you just about all you need from the Fiesta hatch, though it would be worth adding the SE Appearance Package for the inclusion of the SYNC 3 infotainment system and accompanying 6.5-inch touchscreen. It also adds functionality in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with an additional USB port and upgraded exterior elements and sport cloth seating upholstery. We also highly recommend opting for the manual transmission to avoid the sluggish and problematic behavior of the automatic, while the manual also makes the most of the exciting chassis and personality of the Fiesta.
The Honda Fit, as the segment's long-standing class-leader, is the Fiesta Hatchback's number one benchmark. The Fit is around $2,000 more than the Fiesta at the base level but comes with a more powerful and more frugal 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It offers 30 hp more than the Fiesta and EPA figures of 29/36/31 mpg at the base level which significantly improves with the CVT-equipped trims. The Fit isn't quite as fun-to-drive as the Fiesta, but it does offer similarily nimble handling dynamics and a slightly more comfortable ride. The Fit also has the option to a few more active safety and advanced driver assists than the Fiesta, including the Honda Sensing suite of forward collision warning with emergency automatic braking. With 16.6 cubic feet of room in the trunk and Honda's popular 60/40 split-folding magic rear seats, the Fit also offers a whole lot more practicality and versatility. The Honda Fit tops the Fiesta in many aspects and is most certainly worth the slight increase in cost for its added value and overall refinement as a economical, practical, and enthusiastic daily commuter.
The Chevrolet Sonic is priced slightly higher than the Fiesta but offers two engine options, a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-pot, and a turbocharged 1.4-liter, both with 18 hp more than the Fiesta. While the naturally aspirated engine isn't quite as frugal as the Fiesta's, the turbocharged is, with estimates of 28/37/32 mpg. The Sonic is also a spirited and nimble daily commuter with sharp handling dynamics but is not as comfortable as the Fiesta. The Sonic does offer greater practicality with 19 cubic feet of trunk room available and tops the Fiesta in its tech functionality at all levels. Having received a recent major redesign the Sonic also presents a more refined and up-to-date cabin design and impression while the Fiesta remains considerably dated. Nevertheless, the Fiesta offers a more enjoyable daily driver, with the basic amenities covered and a fun-to-drive nature at a fairly affordable price.