Ford's new Fiesta is equipped with a small but powerful three-cylinder… (Bethany Mollenkof / Los…)
Hoping to grab attention for producing a car with the best fuel economy for a standard gasoline vehicle, Ford Motor Co. showed off a three-cylinder version of its Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday.
The car, which just went on sale in Europe, is projected to get more than 40 miles per gallon, Ford said. But the Fiesta has not gone through Environmental Protection Agency testing and does not yet have an official fuel economy rating.
Getting at least 40 mpg in highway driving is now seen as the price of entry for automakers selling cars in this small sub-compact segment.
Photos: Ford's three-cylinder Fiesta
"Our goal with this Fiesta was to take a car that was already a leader in fuel efficiency, performance, connectivity and personality, and make it even better," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.
The tiny one-liter engine in the new Fiesta makes 123 horsepower and 148 foot-pound of torque — compared with 120 horsepower and 110 pound-feet of torque in the current base 1.6 liter four-cylinder. Put another way, the 123 horsepower delivers more power per liter than a Lamborghini Aventador.
The Fiesta will come to the U.S. market in the second half of next year, Ford said. It hasn’t set a price, but the current model sells in the $14,000 to $16,000 range, depending on features. If Ford prices the turbo option as it does in larger vehicles such as the Flex or Explorer, it will add about $1,000 to the price of the vehicle.
Video: What we want to see at the Auto Show
Analysts said the car could be a hit, depending on its price.
"I don’t think consumers care so much anymore about cylinder count. When you open up the hood of your car all you see is plastic covers. But this is a segment where people are concerned about price and fuel economy," said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at AutoPacific Inc., an industry consulting firm.
"That engine is so smooth and so quiet that you would never know it is a three cylinder," said Sullivan, who drove a European Ford Focus equipped with the same engine. "It is better than every other three-cylinder engine that has been out in the market for the last 20 years. Once people drive the car with that engine they will want it."
Full coverage: 2012 L.A. Auto Show
Panorama: 2012 L.A. Auto Show
L.A. Auto Show: Details to know before you go
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