The 2014 Fiesta rides on the same platform as the 2013 model and the wheelbase remains unchanged, but it's a half-inch shorter overall.
Up front, the generic, wedge-shaped front end of the outgoing 2013 Fiesta has been replaced with a look that's more modern and distinct for 2014. The upper and lower grilles have swapped proportions. Now, a large, big-mouthed upper grille grabs the most attention, with the same horizontal lines seen on the Ford Fusion sedan. The lower grille is low and long, and flows nicely into reshaped foglamp housings. Headlamps are new too, but retain the upswept back corner found on the outgoing model. Deep hood lines give the Fiesta a more athletic look. The net result is a bolder Fiesta with more European flair, although in this variation it doesn't pull off the Aston Martin-esque air that the Fusion carries. Fiesta ST replaces the grille insert with black mesh.
Lines on either side of the large upper grille flow around the front quarter panel and into wide, flared front fender arches. Viewed from the side, both sedan and hatchback versions of the 2014 Ford Fiesta are mostly unchanged. They keep the deep, slightly rising character line that runs through the front and rear door handles. Hatchbacks keep the same silhouette: a slightly arcing roofline accented by the little turned-up tail of the rear deck lid spoiler. On the ST, the high-mount spoiler is more prominent.
In the rear, the sedan has sleeker, reshaped tail lamps and a more contoured deck lid, but keeps its somewhat boxy rear end shape. Changes to the hatch are tougher to spot.
Upgraded materials make their way into the 2014 Ford Fiesta's redesigned cabin. Instead of using hard plastic, the texture of the material covering the instrument panel on our Fiesta SE was soft yet slightly rough, like slubbed linen. A mix of this material and harder plastic is also found on the side doors.
Controls inside the 2014 Ford Fiesta fan out in a winged V shape. Designers say the look and feel of the instrument panel was inspired by a cell phone, although today's mobile phones would never include so many buttons and switches. Without the MyFordTouch interface, our Fiesta SE model had more than three dozen buttons on the center stack alone. Instead of toggling through audio functions, there is a separate button for each (CD, radio, etc.). Below the audio controls are the climate control functions, laid out in a large central circle, flanked by round temp and fan speed knobs.
The display screen on the Fiesta SE is set back deep into the instrument panel, which shields it from glare. We found it easily readable in bright sunlight. The voice-activated SYNC system comes standard on all models and allows users to control the audio system and pair a phone via Bluetooth, access certain Ford-approved apps and get voice-prompted, turn-by-turn directions. The system functions reliably most of the time, but as it relies on cell phone coverage, service can be spotty in areas without a strong signal.
The small storage area in the center console of the Fiesta is relatively narrow, but is plenty deep. Our Fiesta SE's center console had two cup holders that sit front-to-back and were large enough to hold a bottle of Vitamin Water. The storage pocket in the front door is large enough for a coffee mug or larger water bottle.
Seats are comfortable and have enough side bolstering to keep occupants properly positioned. The black fabric upholstery with white stitching in our Fiesta SE was basic and nothing special, but on par with the class. Leather upholstery and heated front seats are available on Fiesta Titanium models.
Front seats in the 2014 Ford Fiesta will accommodate a six-footer. However, with 39.1 inches of headroom, Fiesta falls shy of the Nissan Versa Note by more than a half inch, and is bested by the 2013 Honda Fit by more than an inch and a half. However, front legroom in the Fiesta measures 42.2 inches, about an inch more than both the Versa Note and the Fit.
Rear passengers suffer most against the competition. Headroom in the 2014 Ford Fiesta measures 37.2 inches, nearly an inch less than what's found in the Nissan and nearly two inches less than that of the Honda. Fiesta's rear legroom is a paltry 31.2 inches when compared to the Fit's 34.5 inches, and the Versa Note's extremely roomy 38.3 inches.
When it comes to cargo space, the Fiesta sedan's 12.8 cubic feet is on par with the rest of the class. The hatchback, however, falls shy. With all the seats in place, the Fiesta hatch offers 14.9 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, the maximum is 26 cubic feet, a far cry from the Versa Note's 38.3 cubic feet Honda Fit's cavernous 57.3 cubic feet.
Forward and side visibility is about average for the class. The small, triangular, fixed windows at the base of the A-pillar add an airiness to the forward vision. Rear visibility in the hatchback pays the price of that aforementioned taut styling, with kind of a tunnel vision effect from the inward tapering of the rear quarter panels and C-pillar. This is one area where the sedan is superior.