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2019 Ford Fiesta Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

While many of the 2019 Ford Fiesta's rivals are laid back, this small car stands out for its lively performance. This is mostly attributed to its dynamic handling, but its refined manual transmissions and an animated, optional turbocharged engine certainly make it more fun to drive. Fuel economy is about average.

  • "If ever there was a good reason for learning to drive stick, it's the Fiesta ST. This is a true hot hatch, bringing nearly 200 horses and a genuinely engaging suspension. On the track, it's the real deal, pairing prodigious turbocharged torque with razor-sharp reflexes." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "The Fiesta, which comes in sedan and four-door hatchback versions, offers lively handling and performance that make even everyday errands seem fun. The performance-oriented Fiesta ST model is even more entertaining thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and 197-horsepower four-cylinder engine. But even if it's frugality you're after, Ford still has you covered with the Fiesta's 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine that delivers surprisingly zippy performance and outstanding fuel economy." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Automakers often soften their European-based cars for the U.S. market, but thankfully that isn't the case for the Fiesta. The result is a car that, despite its small size, is comfortable and controlled. The bonus is, when you push the Fiesta on that curved onramp or sweeping road, it responds with surprising balance, communication and grip. And if you like that sort of thing, you'll respond with a smile." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The standard Fiesta engine is a good power plant for daily driving. While it won't snap your neck when you lay on the throttle, it is smooth. The 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard with an easy-to-shift five-speed manual transmission. The available six-speed dual-clutch automatic isn't quite as polished. Gas mileage is typical for a nonhybrid subcompact car, at 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

The Fiesta ST comes with its own distinctive setup, and professional reviewers say it is a blast to drive. It cranks out 197 horsepower from a turbocharged EcoBoost 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The six-speed manual transmission (the only gearbox available in the ST) is enjoyable. The ST gets 25/32 mpg city/highway.  

  • "The 1.6-liter four-cylinder never feels strong. The Fiesta covers 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds, average for the segment." -- Edmunds
  • "The 5-speed manual transmission is also a delight, with effortless gear changes. Most people will probably choose the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic (in non-ST versions), which allows manual changes, but isn't as refined." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "… the standard 120-horsepower 4-cylinder is adequate. … Then there's the performance-oriented Fiesta ST. With 197 horsepower and sport-tuned suspension and steering, it's the clear athlete of the group and the only Fiesta equipped with 17-inch wheels and 4-wheel disc brakes. A 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which can feel awkward at times, is available on the standard engine, while the 3-cylinder and the ST come only with likable manuals, 5- and 6-speeds, respectively." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Fiesta has front-wheel drive, responsive steering, and solid brakes. Its suspension system has a dash of sportiness to it, which translates to good body control in corners. Overall, the Fiesta is agile and composed.

  • "The steering is nice and quick with good feedback and makes you relish any corner or freeway on-ramp. The Fiesta's sportiness is aided by a grippy, thick-rimmed steering wheel." -- Edmunds
  • "The suspension is taut, yet absorbs enough road imperfections to make the ride comfortable. When a car has as much poise and agility as this, engine power is a bit beside the point." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "Comfortable and controlled, the 2017 Ford Fiesta is one of the more fun cars to drive in the subcompact class. … The steering is precise and its overall performance will impress you. This is a small car that likes to be driven." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
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