Perception during the Great Recession was that America was ready for smaller cars. Grownups would trade in their midsize sedans and SUVs for compacts, and hip first-time urban buyers would move up from fixies to the automotive B-segment, buying cars like the refreshed 2014 Ford Fiesta.
Reality has been a bit different. New subcompact, or B-cars, tend to do well in their first model years with plenty of marketing and advertising help, then drop off to somewhere above niche status through the rest of their lifecycles. This was true for two generations of the Honda Fit, then for the Ford Fiesta, which launched with the huge boost from an intensive social media campaign.
This year’s B-car is the Chevrolet Sonic. Its competitors have suffered. While Chevy has sold 57,221 Sonics in the U.S. through August, Ford has sold 39,561 Fiestas, off 25.7 percent versus the first eight months of 2011, and Honda has sold 33,918 Fits, off 21.5 percent. The new Toyota Yaris at just 22,700 is up 59.9 percent.
Ford’s Alan Mulally’s mantra is “constant new product” and to that point, the 2014 Fiesta gets refreshed a bit more than two U.S. model years into its lifecycle. The car debuts later this month at the Paris show, then comes to Los Angeles in November. It will go on sale in North America by Spring 2013 as a 2014 model.
In the U.S., the 2014 Ford Fiesta will continue as a four-door hatchback and sedan. The biggest change is to Ford’s new post-kinetic, Aston-Martin like grille under a “power-dome” hood, all of which debuts here on the 2014 Fusion. Ford also will announce at Paris that the 1.0-liter EcoBoost I-3, launched in the European Focus, will be added to the subcompact’s engine lineup.
We can expect that engine option added when, or shortly after, the refreshed Fiesta goes on sale here next year. Ford already has announced it will sell the three-cylinder EcoBoost in the U.S., though it will debut in the Focus. Fiesta will need the engine to maintain, at least, EPA parity with its bigger sibling.
Ford says interior quality is improved, and it will add a number of new premium options. The 2014 Fiesta gets Active City Stop, which applies brakes and rear hazard lights in the case of impending collision, MyKey to allow limits to top speed and adjust other dynamic parameters for certain drivers, Emergency Assistance, which automatically calls local emergency services and directs via GPS in case of a crash, and the latest Sync technology.
Yes, these updates apply to the 180-hp Fiesta ST, which is expected for U.S. import after the updated model goes on sale.