2014 Ford Fiesta (© Rod Hatfield)Click to enlarge picture

2014 Ford Fiesta

The good news is that Ford will bump the fuel economy of its little Fiesta model up to 41 miles per gallon with the addition of the new SFE model for 2014.

What is likely to be even better news for Ford Fiesta buyers is the likelihood the little car will stretch even further — without much performance sacrifice — when the maker adds the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine to the Fiesta line-up later this year.

As we've been seeing over the past couple years, 40 is the new 30, especially when it comes to fuel economy, so the 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE is likely to get a welcome reception — though we'll have to wait for a drive to see whether there's much of a penalty in the performance category. That and premium pricing have been the two big drawbacks when it comes to sales of other models, especially those given the "Eco" designation.

The SFE model will deliver about 5 percent better mileage in highway mode than the current mileage model which is rated at 39 highway — and 29 city, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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To achieve the added 2 mpg, Ford has apparently tweaked the SFE model's styling and recalibrated the engine microprocessor. We're glad to see they don't make reference to the Fiesta's manumatic gearbox. Trying to maximize mileage when the Fiesta first came out, Ford overdid things with that transmission and seriously hurt drivability which, in turn, resulted in a number of demerits on quality studies like J.D. Power's IQS. The maker has since recalibrated the transmission.

Two key Fiesta competitors, the Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa, already top the 40 mpg mark. Hyundai and Kia had also broken that benchmark — or so it seemed until they had to restate mileage ratings last year after admitting to fudging their EPA testing.

Could Ford push even higher? That seems quite possible once it launches the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine later this year. The 3-cylinder engine, which just was named International Engine of the Year, is the latest addition to the expanding Ford EcoBoost family, and a preview drive of the 1-liter Fiesta a few months back proved most impressive.

Already on sale in Europe, the 1.0-liter powertrain is able to deliver a lot more power than its diminutive size might suggest. Ford is likely to pitch it as a premium option delivering both good mileage and sporty performance, a balancing act that leaves unclear just what its final EPA fuel economy rating might come in at.