Since Ford was in town sharing some of their toys, we went ahead and had a go in one of their hottest toys in the lineup – the new Fiesta ST.
Hot Hatches haven’t had much of a playing field here in the States and for the last decade or so the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the King of the land. Now there has been a whole slew of hatches hitting the market; Fiat 500 Abarth and Mini Cooper S. We’ve all seen what Ford did to the Focus when they added the ST badging. Now we get to see what happens when those same letters are added to the Fiesta.
The Fiesta itself is already a handsome hatch. We liked its funkiness when we tested an SE last year. So when Ford added the letters ST to that large mouth grille and the Performance Blue paint, things get kicked up to 11. The ST enhances the performance and appearance dynamics with side body skirts, a rear aggressive sport enhanced bumper with diffuser and dual tip exhaust, and a rear spoiler. Add the 17” alloy wheels and it all ties together very well for one hot look.
But what makes this Fiesta hot is what’s underneath. A 1.6L turbocharged four-banger matted to a 6-speed manual transmission producing 197 horsepower. Rolling off the line, 202lb-ft of torque will get from zero to 60 in roughly 7 seconds and to a top speed limited to 143 mph. Driving the Fiesta ST finally fits its name, it’s an absolute party… a laugh. It’s so much fun to drive. Pop it into first gear and slide of the clutch, setting off will get the wheels spinning and exhaust pitching a harmonious tune. We only had 30 minutes to enjoy ourselves, but that didn’t stop us from having some fun. Once we hit 3rd gear and 80 mph there was a sense of drama – floor the throttle and get tons of great noise but you never got the sense you were going any faster. And that’s what we love, the theatrics’. There will never be a boring day behind the wheel.
Now, giving the front wheels 202lb-ft of torque with 197-hp, and telling to do the braking, and the steering is quite the tall order. Yet Ford has worked it out perfectly. The handling is intensely precise in the corners. Full throttle into a corner, the understeer feels like it’s corrected by the torque steer which gives you a smooth transition in the bends. The 6-speed manual is an absolute peach with a super light clutch and quick throws between gears. The ride is uber stiff and feels quite bouncy, but it’s worth the sacrifice.
Starting at $21,400, the Fiesta ST already comes well equipped with push button start, climate control and MyFord Touch with SYNC. Our tested Fiesta was kicked up a notch though with $1,995 heated Recaro Racing inspired seats, $795 Navigation, and after $795 for destination our final cost out the door is $24,190. The Recaro seats is definitely an option we’d opt for as they provided superb comfort while holding the driver and passenger snug when things go a bit abroad.
Amongst the European competition, the Mini Cooper S and Fiat 500 Abarth, the Fiesta is more practical with five-doors over them three-doors. There is room in the back for friends. And in our opinion, it’s more of a head turner with its appearance. What started in life as your average mull of a day economy box, the Fiesta ST transformed into one of the best hatches you can buy for under $25-grand.