Fiesta 2018 First Drive

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Though the Fiesta might be small, it is still mighty fierce. An engaging five-speed manual comes standard; the optional six-speed dual-clutch sacrifices little in terms of driving fun. Available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, its tight rear seat and scant standard equipment shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Judiciously equipped with options like Sync 3 infotainment and the 123-hp turbo three-cylinder—an upgrade from the base 120-hp four-cylinder—this little guy is a pleasure to drive.

Driving enthusiasts think that plucky, underpowered subcompacts, such as the Ford Fiesta, beg for the driver involvement that comes from a three-pedal, manual gearbox. This is one reason we’ve eschewed the Blue Oval’s PowerShift six-speed automatic for the standard five-speed manual in all our previous tests of the car, which is one of our favorites in the class. This review marks the first time we’ve strapped our test gear to a Fiesta fitted with the optional ($1095) automatic, and the results left us pleasantly surprised.

Fiesta 2018 Redesign

Unlike the competition, the Fiesta has an automatic transmission of the dual-clutch variety rather than a conventional automatic. This type of gearbox often means clumsy, stuttering drive-off behavior from rest because it lacks a torque converter, which has both a torque-multiplication effect and smoothens the power delivery. Ford’s initial programming when it introduced the car in 2011 also lacked the crisp, rapid-fire shifts we’ve come to expect from other dual-clutch gearboxes, which can be more typically found in high-performance vehicles. In principle, though, we tend to prefer dual-clutch automatics over the continuously variable transmissions (CVT) often found in small cars.

20 Photos of the Fiesta 2018 First Drive

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