Saving you money, that’s what we like to do here at the Cheat Sheet. But over in the Autos division, we sometimes lose sight of this mantra as we interview guys like James Glickenhaus about his multi-million dollar SCG-003 hypercar and discuss “executive hot rods” like the Porsche Panamera Turbo based upon a personal recommendation from the one and only Magnus Walker. Regular driving routines call for regular cars, and with danger at every turn it is advisable to have a cheap vehicle that you don’t give a damn about for the majority of your daily driven civic duties.
Since protecting you from boring-ass cars is our secondary mantra, we feel that a daily driver should still have a splash of joy to it, regardless of how inexpensive it may be. So in order to find a balance between the two, we set out to unearth the cheapest turbocharged car you can buy in America today, and while there were a lot of surprisingly inexpensive options, there was only one obvious winner.
Turbos have seen a massive “boost” in manufacturer interest within the past few years as buyers continue to ask for better fuel economy and power at the same time. Ford answered the calling, and remains comfortably at the forefront by offering its EcoBoost turbo engines in everything from the Flex, to the F-150, Lincoln Navigator, and the Fiesta.
It is the last of these offerings that we find ourselves dissecting today, as it gives us a turbocharged powerplant, a killer price point, and a daily-driven design that isn’t going to cost a fortune to fix in a fender bender. While the itty-bitty Fiesta sedan is by no means a brawler or a head turner, it does offer quite a lot of value for the money, and thus far critics have been quite pleased with what they have found in this unassuming automobile. However there is one nagging question that still surfaces every time we look at this car, and that is: Why would we want to own one?
Naturally, we would buy the 1.0-liter EcoBoost Fiesta based purely on the fact that it received an “A” rating from Edmunds.com editors, and is currently ranked second in the “Affordable Subcompact Car” category according to U.S. News, putting it directly behind the Honda Fit. Critics praise the Fiesta for being “affordable to buy, cheap to operate, and entertaining to drive” and because it “has a more premium feel than its modest price tag would suggest.”
We also like that the miniature, 1.0-liter three-cylinder version of the ST model still produces a respectable 123 horsepower alongside 125 pound feet of torque, and that the only way to get it is with a manual gearbox. And, since it has the overall displacement of a blender, the Fiesta is still able to offer upwards of 43-miles per gallon on the highway.
The Fiesta also comes with lots of amenities for the money, with power locks and mirrors, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, telescoping steering wheel, and a six-speaker sound system that ties into an auxiliary audio jack kicking things off. We also like that Ford’s Sync functions come standard on the car, so iPod/USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice controls, app-based services, and a variety of safety communications functions are there for the taking at no extra cost. Tack on a few free extras like keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, a front center console and armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and some ambient lighting and we start to wonder if Ford is losing money on these things.
Buyers also get anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, an integrated blind-spot mirror, a ton of airbags, and Ford’s “MyKey System” so that both speed and audio volume remain limited for when teens and valets have the keys. And while the backseat is a tad on the tight side, the sedan retains a modest amount of trunk capacity at 12.8 cubic feet, which we do not mind at all because it’s a subcompact car and that’s what they were designed to do.
So let’s see… the EcoBoost Fiesta sedan offers a ton of value for under $16,000, gets amazing gas mileage, doesn’t feel super cheap, and has a surprisingly zippy little turbocharged engine that relies on a manual gearbox. And while the jury still remains out in regards to long-term reliability, it sure sounds like Edmunds hit the nail right on the head when they said “the EcoBoost three-cylinder engine is a gem, delivering excellent fuel economy and acceleration. It’s well worth the extra cost.”
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