New naturally aspirated three-cylinder Fiesta is reputed to match the turbocharged variant's efficiency, but a £500 list price saving may not be enough to justify the downgrade

What is it?

This is Ford’s accolade-accumulating supermini, here in five-door form and mid-level Zetec trim and, most notably, powered by a non-turbocharged version of the Blue Oval’s headline-stealing 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

Thus, devoid of a turbocharger, the engine loses the EcoBoost tag and the T suffix after the 1.0 in the car’s model name.

This naturally aspirated 1.0 three-pot produces a claimed 79bhp and 77lb ft – 20bhp and a not-insignificant 48lb ft down on the less-powerful of the two turbocharged 1.0T EcoBoost engines available in the Fiesta. 

Interestingly, it is claimed to match the 99bhp 1.0T engine for claimed economy and CO2 emissions, recording 65.7mpg and 99g/km respectively. Expect closer to low-50s economy with restrained day-to-day use.

What's it like?

Well, it’s a step down in refinement from the EcoBoost-equipped Fiesta. If you’re familiar with Ford’s turbocharged three-pot, then this non-boosted version may at first come as something of a disappointment. 

Without the muffling effect of a turbocharger, quite a bit more engine noise finds its way into the cabin, especially on the wide throttle openings you often find yourself using. With the full 79bhp not appearing until 6300rpm, and with peak torque arriving at 4100rpm, this feels like a relatively peaky engine.

As such, the engine needs to be revved hard to keep pace with anything other than sedately moving traffic. To put the performance into some context, Ford quotes a 0-62mph sprint time of 14.9sec, a full 3.7sec behind the 99bhp 1.0T

In isolation, however, and avoiding direct comparison with the near-otherworldly refinement and zest of the turbocharged three-pot, this version isn’t without appeal.

It’s a willing enough performer around town, and you soon get used to the background soundtrack of that offbeat thrum. It doesn’t feel wholly out of its depth on the motorway either, although you may find yourself changing down a gear to keep pace on long, uphill stretches.

Otherwise, this Ford Fiesta is business as usual. As-tested Zetec trim brings a fair amount of kit in a neatly executed and contemporary-feeling cabin with a great driving position.

More to the point from an enthusiast’s point of view, you get a fantastically well resolved ride (particularly on the otherwise unfashionable standard 15-inch wheels), fine steering and a wonderfully composed and agile chassis.So composed, in fact, that in this guise you’re often reminded just how much more power it could handle than the 79bhp available here.

Should I buy one?

Well, possibly. This non-turbo version is offered as the cheapest way into three-cylinder Ford Fiesta ownership, but it’s only available with mid-level Zetec and the posher Titanium trims.

If petrol power is your thing, the cheaper Style and entry-level Studio trims have to make do with the similarly powerful and slightly torquier but older and thirstier (at least on paper) 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine.

As it is, you’ll pay £13,995 for this car in Zetec trim and five-door guise, or £13,395 as a three-door. That price splits the difference between the £500 cheaper 1.25 Zetec four-pot and the £500 more expensive 1.0T EcoBoost triple.

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Our advice would be to try before you buy and secure a test drive. If you like the distinct character of this entry-level triple, then you should be as happy as Larry with what amounts to a stylish and broadly appealing package.

But don’t drive the 1.0T EcoBoost if you can’t afford the extra £500 to stretch to it, because nothing less will do once you’ve experienced its zesty charm.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Zetec

Price £13,995; 0-62mph 14.9sec; Top speed 103mph; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); CO2 99g/km; Kerb weight 1045kg; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 79bhp at 6300rpm; Torque 77lb ft at 4100rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

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Soren Lorenson 21 October 2016

A very late update

I had one of these as a hire car this year. The engine makes a fantastic noise and is really fun to thrash. I thoroughly enjoyed driving it even though it is a bit slow. You can have maximum enjoyment without losing your licence.
scotty5 21 February 2014

It's brilliant, just don't buy brand new.

At last someone has mentioned the non-ecoboost engine. Why not buy the the ecoboost as everyone seems to imply? Easy - it all depends on what the car is going to be used for (ie it's a city car) and given that the 1.25 was the best selling engine, it's the ecoboost that doesn't make financial sense. Forget list prices, forget buying new, in the real world, there's a £1000 difference between the engines in 'nearly new', you can easily pick this car up in top spec Titanium trim, 63 plate for £11k with only a few thousand on the clock. You'll pay £12k for the turbo version. Given the Fiesta is one of the lowest depreciating cars, if you can bag one of these over three years that's got to be one of the cheapest cars to run. Dirt cheap to insure, zero tax - as a town car, it's almost unbeatable.
Frightmare Bob 21 February 2014

I'm sure this engine would

I'm sure this engine would make a lot of sense, if it was fitted in a car much lighter than the Fiesta.

Edit: further to the above, plenty of 1.0 Ecoboosts, on Autotrader, listed for around £10k on 62 plates and newer.