The U.S.-spec 2014 Ford Fiesta made its official debut at the LA Auto Show, but we were able to score some early seat time in the car a couple days ahead of its introduction. The drive was short, but our time on the traffic-choked freeways of Los Angeles along with an abbreviated autocross session left us with a solid first impression.

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The big story with the 2014 Fiesta -- and one that sets it apart from other cars in this category - is its new 1.0-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. While it's compact enough to fit into a carry-on piece of luggage, Ford's award-winning mini-mill churns out 123 horsepower and a very respectable 148 lb-ft of torque. Official EPA figures have yet to be announced, though Ford's preliminary data suggests its new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will return over 40 mpg on the highway and qualify the 2014 Fiesta as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid on the market.

On the road, the 3-cylinder EcoBoost's abundance of low-end torque and lack of turbo lag made passing maneuvers effortless. In addition, Ford's investments in friction- and vibration-reducing technologies have paid dividends, as the 3-cylinder's smooth idle and linear power delivery belied its diminutive displacement. And unlike most unconventionally small engines that require a lead foot to keep up with traffic, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost responded eagerly to throttle input. 

Related: Ford's 1.0-liter engine named International Engine of the Year

Ride and handling characteristics remain unchanged, though considering the current Fiesta is widely regarded as one of the most comfortable and engaging subcompacts on the road, we wholly support Ford's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.

In terms of styling, the 2014 Ford Fiesta will wear the brand's new corporate face, which consists of an inverted trapezoid grille, tapered headlights and a pronounced power dome on the hood. Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but the Blue Oval has endowed the 2014 Fiesta with its feature-packed yet controversial MyFord Touch infotainment system. Ford's advanced technology department acknowledges the flaws hindering their MyFord Touch platform and continues to make improvements to the user interface. Case in point, the latest version of MyFord Touch in the 2014 Fiesta features a redesigned navigation screen, one-step Bluetooth pairing and enhanced voice-recognition software with simplified voice commands. Combined with newly available Sony Premium audio, the 2014 Fiesta is poised to become the connectivity leader in the segment.

Since the Fiesta is often purchased as first car for teen drivers, the 2014 Fiesta will offer Ford's MyKey system. Parents can limit speed, prevent the disabling of stability aids and even regulate audio volume.

Pricing has not been set, though Ford executives pointed out that adding an EcoBoost engine to a current Ford model typically carries a $995 fee. The refreshed Ford Fiesta is currently available in European showrooms, with a U.S. release date slated for spring 2014.

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