LOS ANGELES -- Ford has loaded the freshened 2014 Fiesta with big-car features, believing that customers increasingly want sophistication even in the smallest cars.
The new Fiesta will be offered with more refinement and with more powertrain and infotainment options. The three engine choices include the three-cylinder, 123-hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost, the latest addition to Ford's growing performance and fuel economy engine brand.
Although Ford has not given specific gas mileage figures, it claims the 1.0-liter Fiesta will exceed 40 mpg and "is expected to deliver the best fuel economy of any nonhybrid car sold in America."
Ford unveiled the 2014 Fiesta here at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but dealers will have to wait until late 2013 for the car to arrive.
Ford also has restyled the front end with the latest version of the trapezoidal grille featured on the 2013 Ford Fusion.
A performance version of the Fiesta -- the Fiesta ST, for Sport Technologies -- will wear a red ST badge and be powered by Ford's 1.6-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that will crank out 197 hp and 214 pounds-feet of torque. It will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Ford compared the numbers to the Mini Cooper S, which cranks out 181 hp and 177 pounds-feet of torque, and the Chevrolet Sonic RS, which produces 138 hp and 148 pounds-feet of torque.
Jim Farley, Ford's global marketing chief, estimates that about 40 percent of the Fiesta mix will have the latest version of the MyFord Touch infotainment system, which comes with a 6.5-inch screen that was made smaller to fit its smallest car.
The Fiesta will compete at the higher end of the small-car market, he said. That means no econobox version.
"The Fiesta will be one of the first B cars to offer leather seats," Farley said. "We're not interested in [competing] in the very low end of the B-car market. We're not going to offer a super price leader, very basic-equipped vehicle."
It's no coincidence Ford chose to launch the latest Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Los Angeles accounts for 10 percent of all Fiesta sales nationwide, Farley said.
"B cars are only sold in cities. It's that simple," he said. "Our growth opportunity as a company is in large metro areas on the coasts."
Ford initially will offer the 1.0-liter EcoBoost only with a five-speed manual gearbox. Customers wanting an automatic will be able to buy a normally aspirated 1.6-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost could give shoppers a reason to put the Fiesta on their lists again. Sales of Ford's smallest car have languished this year as customers have preferred the Focus, a larger vehicle that gets about the same gas mileage. Fiesta sales are down 23 percent through October while sales of the Focus are up 37 percent.