EPA Certification Just Came Out...
Slightly more fuel-efficient cars are not a solution. What we need are alternatives to cars and vehicles that are orders of magnitude cleaner (in construction, operation, and disposal). But while we work on these things, more fuel-efficient cars are certainly a step in the right direction. It wasn't so long ago that there were almost no high-quality gas-sippers in the US, but they're slowly coming and the Ford Fiesta (a best-seller in Europe) is setting a new benchmark.
Finally Some Competition for Best MPG?
Ford is no doubt very proud that according to the just-released EPA numbers it is beating its main Japanese rivals when it comes to fuel economy, especially on the highway: The Fiesta is 5 mpg better than the Honda Fit and 4 mpg better than the Toyota Yaris, something that Ford mentions near the top of its press release.
But what matters most is that there's finally some competition in the small car sector in North-America. For too long, no sub-compact took a decisive lead on fuel-economy and forced other automakers to match it. But now that Ford has done exactly that, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, etc, all started paying more attention to the MPG of their smaller cars, tweaking them for weight, aerodynamics, adding more gears to the transmissions, etc. This kind of healthy competition on MPG has been missing from that segment for too long.
The Fiesta achieves its best-in-segment fuel figures thanks to a host of fuel-saving technologies not normally seen at this price level. To increase fuel economy, Fiesta features a new 1.6-liter Duratec® engine with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) that delivers 120 horsepower, an aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and an engine accessory drive system that improves efficiency by reducing the energy it takes to power the air conditioner and alternator.
In addition, the Fiesta also features the PowerShift transmission, a six-speed automatic that combines the fuel benefits of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. Combine that with electric power-assisted steering, another fuel saver and some aerodynamic optimizations and you have a car that can go a long way on a single tank of fuel. (source)
Unlike most vehicles, the Ford Fiesta gets better fuel economy when mated with an automatic transmission than a manual (the stick is rated 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway). That's because the automatic is a 6-speed while the manual is a 5-speed, but also because the dual-clutch automatic is inherently more efficient than the traditional torque-converter transmissions usually found in small cars.
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