The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Probably the best hot hatch for your money, and proof that clever engineering can delight both the eco brigade and driving enthusiasts
Pros
Class-leading agility and performance
Great sound from the EcoBoost engine
Very affordable
Cons
No five-door version
More of a boy racer image than competition
Fiesta fascia beginning to look a bit dated

Ford Fiesta ST review (2013-on)

EcoBoosts its way into hot hatch pole position

More Info

What is the Ford Fiesta ST?

Based on the already brilliant Fiesta supermini, the ST is the product of Ford Team RS, the European arm of the car maker’s performance division, who tuned the engine, suspension, steering and brakes to create a focused performance car. They also made some styling tweaks with the addition of a large rear wing and deep front spoiler. There are very capable rivals nipping at the Fiesta ST’s heels, notably the Peugeot 208 GTi and Renaultsport Clio RS 200, both of which were also relaunched in 2013 and offer very similar performance.


Search for and buy used Ford Fiesta ST on driving.co.uk


The Fiesta ST is available in basic trim from just £16,995 – some £2,000 less than its cheapest French rivals. Ford sells the car in two trim levels: standard Fiesta ST, with 17in alloy wheels, halogen lights, DAB radio, a Thatcham CAT 1 alarm, Recaro seats and air conditioning, or, for an extra £1,000, Fiesta ST2 which adds partial leather heated Recaro seats, Sony DAB radio, keyless start, tinted windows and LED daytime running lights. Sat nav, climate control and the Style Pack, which includes grey alloys and red brake callipers, are cost options. Save your money, though – the standard ST is the one to go for.

Look out also for the Ford-approved Mountune upgrade, which offers an additional 33bhp over the standard 179bhp for an extra £599, without affecting the warranty.

The drive

The standard Fiesta’s already capable chassis underpins the ST but bolted to it is a 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine delivering that aforementioned 179bhp. This is less than the 200bhp found in the 208 GTi and Clio RS but the Fiesta’s turbocharged unit has more torque than both (214 lb ft compared with 203 lb ft, and 177 lb ft respectively), meaning it feels more aggressive in its acceleration.

Meanwhile, the car is astonishingly quick and composed through corners owing to it having a 15mm lower ride height over the standard Fiesta, modified components at the front and rear, and increased stiffness all-round. The steering is pin-point accurate thanks to Ford’s torque vectoring system, known as eTVC, which applies braking to the inside wheel during cornering and allows the car to be turned more sharply.

The electronic stability control, which distributes power to the wheels to avoid wheelspin, can be set three ways: full intervention, limited intervention or full deactivation. Driving found the car much more responsive with it switched off completely, although in slippery conditions it would prove much more useful.

Despite this technology, the ST feels satisfyingly old-school in the way it drives, helped by the fact that it is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, unlike the new Renault Clio RS which has a semi-automatic transmission with an F1-inspired paddle shift. Regarding the Ford, it’s hard to think of a more engaging, bang-for-your-buck performance car.

As a daily driver the Fiesta ST makes sense, too. The stiffer suspension is nowhere near hard enough to rattle the fillings from your teeth, while the EcoBoost engine delivers decent economy and cleanliness – 47.9mpg in the combined test cycle and 138g/km of CO2 (similar to its French rivals).

The interior


 

There’s nothing radical about the interior of the Fiesta ST. The dashboard and instruments are standard Ford fare, which is beginning to look quite dated compared with the competition. Fortunately, it’s not unattractive in its design and there are styling tweaks in the Fiesta ST that help bring a sporting look, including carbon-fibre dashboard inserts, alloy-metal pedals and gear lever, and an ST-badged steering wheel.

The Recaro seats look the part and, more importantly, hold you well around the backside and shoulders. The lip on the edges of the base cushion is less pronounced than in some other hot hatches, allowing you to get in and out of the car more easily.

This being a supermini, interior space is at a premium. Matters are not helped by the fact that the Fiesta ST is not available with rear doors – it’s strictly a three-door affair. On the flipside, there’s a lot to be said for the structural rigidity this brings.

The one to buy

Ford Fiesta ST

Factfile

Price:
£16,995 (Price correct at time of publication)
Engine:
1596cc, 4-cylinder
Power:
179bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque:
214lb ft @ 1600-5000rpm
Transmission:
6-speed manual
Acceleration:
0-62mph in 6.9se
Top speed:
139mph
Fuel:
47.9mpg
CO2:
138g/km combined
Road tax band:
Dimensions:
L 3975mm, W 1787mm, H 1456mm

 

Ford Fiesta ST rivals