Six word summary
Ford’s compact hot hatch tops class
What is it?
The Ford Fiesta ST has established itself as the hot hatch of the moment just as quickly as it zips off the line and devours country road curves. Ford has hit on the age old formula of offering a lively, zesty pocket-sized hatch at the right price and it’s very hard to find fault with that.
What’s it like?
While the larger Ford Focus ST is a real hot rod and perhaps a bit too powerful for its own good, the Fiesta ST is nigh on perfect. Starting with the Fiesta is always a good beginning thanks to its compact exterior dimensions yet roomy cabin. For the ST, Ford has lowered the suspension by 15mm and firmed it up for superb cornering ability.
There are also 17-inch alloy wheels that look great and are wrapped in grippy tyres that help the ST make the most of every curve in the road. A 179bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine may not be as powerful as some of its rivals, such as the 197bhp Peugeot 208 GTI, but the Ford’s lighter weight and well chosen gears mean it’s every bit is swift. From rest to 62mph is dealt with in 6.9 seconds and top speed is more than enough at 137mph.
Even with all of this performance, and the Fiesta loves to zip through its gears and take the engine to its limit, the ST can also deliver 47.9mpg average economy to be easy on the wallet when needs be. Ford has taken this affordable mantra even further with the price of the Fiesta ST, which starts at £16,995. For that, you get the sporty body kit, alloy wheels, punchy engine, six-speed manual gearbox and hip-gripping sports seats.
This undercuts the Fiesta’s key rivals by around £2000, while the more plushly equipped Fiesta ST2 only costs another £1000 and gains half-leather seats, privacy glass, improved stereo and LED daytime running lights. Ford reckons most buyers will opt for the ST2, but whichever ST you pick it’s the handling that defines this car.
Where the Peugeot 208 GTI feels like a grown-up and the Renault Clio RS200 has lost some of its va-va-voom, the Fiesta sparkles on every journey. Its steering has much more feel and accuracy than its rivals, letting the driver position it with pinpoint ease. It nips into corners with greater alacrity and just feels up for fun whenever you’re ready, like a puppy waiting for a stick to be thrown.
For some, the Fiesta ST will be too much of a good thing all of the time, but Ford has absolutely captured the essence of a small hot hatch with the Fiesta ST. It’s plenty quick, handles brilliantly, offers lots of practicality and it won’t break the bank to buy or own.
Words: Al Suttie