2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Long-Term Test – The First 3,000 Miles

2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Long-Term Test – The First 3,000 Miles

After scoring a stellar deal on our ’15 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, thanks to the advice of those who know more about the car buying process than I do, my girlfriend and I have put just over 3,000 miles on our diminutive hatchback.

In those 3,000 miles, the Fiesta has patiently allowed Jenn to hone her manual-transmission skills, been to the dealer once (more on that in a bit), carted us and our furry dependents around the province, and not once been close to an autocross course — though not due to my lack of trying.

2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, Image: © 2016 Jennifer Archibald/The Truth About Cars

This is one EcoBoost that lives up to its name

Ford’s family of EcoBoost engines proudly boast fuel economy ratings that many (including yours truly) think are — at best — optimistic. Ford’s twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost powerplant, which powers the Edge Titanium I tested last year, is one of those engines. The turbo four is forced to work overtime to counter the Edge’s heft. I believe you could squeeze better fuel economy out of the larger V6 for the sole reason that it doesn’t need to work nearly as hard to get the Edge up to speed and keep it there.

But with the Fiesta, that’s not the case. If anything, the opposite is true.

Our first 1,000 miles didn’t return the mileage we expected. I blame that on a green engine and us driving the Fiesta in the city 95 percent of the time. Now that the Fiesta is seeing more highway miles, the observed fuel economy is staggering in the best of ways.

Equipped with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine, the Fiesta is officially rated at 36 miles per gallon on the combined cycle (31 city/43 highway). However, over the last 1,000 miles in an equal mix of city and highway driving, our Fiesta has returned 42.7 mpg.

Needless to say, we aren’t complaining.

I want more power, but the tuners aren’t interested

Even with its available grunt, the Fiesta could use a little more in the performance department.

If we lived in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, Mountune — a partner of Ford Performance — would be more than happy to sell us a mild, warranty-friendly tune to boost the 1.0 triple’s output to 133 horsepower and 158 lbs-ft of torque, an improvement of 10 hp and 33 lbs-ft. If we weren’t bothered by voiding the warranty, Mountune’s MR165 kit could crank the triple up to 163 hp and 181 lbs-ft — again, only if we lived in the UK or somewhere else in Europe.

In the United States and Canada, it’s a wholly different story.

There are differences between the ECU used in European Fiestas and those sold in the U.S. and Canada. Because of that, and the limited availability of the 1.0-liter engine in the Fiesta and Focus here, Mountune and Ford Performance don’t see much reason to develop a tune for it.

“The cost to develop a unique calibration from scratch would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The only way we would be able to move forward is to have support from Ford on this project,” explained Ken Anderson, President of Mountune USA. “The 1.0-liter performance upgrade is not on Ford’s list of things to do.”

And if you thought that COBB might jump at the opportunity: no dice.

“We’ve even asked COBB to develop the AccessPort for us and there was no interest,” stated Anderson.

A representative for COBB stated the company’s Fusion project may have ruined possible future support for “oddball” motors like the EcoBoost triple.

“The bean counters need to have an adequate business case to support something like that,” said a COBB representative. “Fusion support may have ruined the possibility of future oddball support. We added support for 1.6- and 2.0-liter Fusions (a passion project of our lead Ford calibrator, who happens to own one) and we’ve only sold a handful.”

So, if you own a Fusion EcoBoost, go buy some tuners from COBB. I want more power and you’re ruining it for me.

Instrument panels are complex

Jack Baruth touched on the ever-evolving complexity of instrument panels and their associated idiot lights. Knowledge of each icon’s real-world analog is required to understand the meaning behind each warning light. In many cases, that real-world analog does not exist to those born after 1990, so the meanings behind those warning lights are lost.

My girlfriend was born in 1991.

A few weeks ago, Jenn sent me a text telling me that the engine temperature light had come on. She wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t know what it was, so she looked up the light in the owner’s manual. I advised her to call roadside assistance to have the Fiesta towed to the closest dealer for an inspection.

The dealer kept our Fiesta over a weekend and put 50 miles (80 kilometers) on the car before coming to the conclusion that it’s nothing we should worry about as the technician could not reproduce the issue.

When Jenn picked up the car, she realized her error.

The Fiesta has a center-mounted digital display that shows mileage and other information, including engine temperature.

2015 Ford Fiesta Instrument Panel Display, Image: © 2016 Jennifer Archibald/The Truth About Cars

This was the first time she noticed the temperature display, and she thought it was a warning light. The gauge beside the temperature icon isn’t incredibly obvious unless you know what it replaces and represents.

We didn’t need to pay for the dealer visit, thankfully. However, the dealer couldn’t explain why they put so much mileage on our car, nor did they offer to make it right with a free service in the future or something similar. I told them we wouldn’t be back again.

Bye, bye welfare wheels

There’s one major gripe I have with the Fiesta, and it has to do with the wheels Ford decided to put on the EcoBoost model.

The Fiesta SE is equipped with stock alloys. They aren’t stunning, but they aren’t ugly, either. However, if you option the Fiesta SE with the SE EcoBoost Package, Ford deletes the alloys in favor of steel wheels. There is no option to add them again. I assume this is to reduce unsprung weight to increase fuel economy.

But steel wheels are boring, and wheel covers should be fired into the rivers of Hades.

Thanks to our friends at Discount Tire Direct, we are now in possession of a new set of Maxxim Winner wheels measuring in at 17 inches. Unfortunately, due to some logistical issues on my part, the wheels haven’t been fitted to the car.

Maxxim Winner wheel, Image: © 2016 Jennifer Archibald/The Truth About Cars

We’ll be wrapping the wheels in rubber provided by Michelin. Instead of providing a boring tire test where I go on and on about the virtues of the new tires, I simply have three questions in mind:

  1. Will the new Michelins, even with the reduced sidewall height, be as quiet or quieter than the stock Hankook Optimo H426s?
  2. Will larger wheels and wider rubber adversely affect fuel economy in a meaningful way?
  3. How will the Michelins wear over the long-term?

Once the wheels and tires are fitted, I’ll report back.

The biggest challenge yet

This weekend, we are moving to Oshawa.

It’s been an open secret if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook. That means over the next few months we’ll be featuring exclusive stories from the front line regarding labor negotiations between the Detroit Three and Unifor.

However, in the near term, it also means we will be driving the Fiesta for over 1,000 miles from Nova Scotia to our new home in Ontario over the course of the 18 hour trip. If that isn’t a proper test, I don’t know what is.

Mark Stevenson is the managing editor of The Truth About Cars. He is easily swayed into buying vehicles from brands that no longer exist. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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