Ford Fiesta ST review


What is?

The sequel to one of the best fast Fords of all time. The last ST was Best in Class, AutoCar of the Year, affordable, fun and fast toned from a hot hatch. So you’d forgive Ford for playing it safe with the new one. A few more horsepower and a smarter interior, maybe. No. Ford went big and installed a smaller engine, smart fuel-saving technology and drive modes, keeping the power on par with the old car.

Is brave. When Renault tried to reinvent the little hot hatch with a paddle-shift gearbox and various configurations, it failed. They all bought Fiesta ST instead. But what makes this new ST a winner is that it has retained nearly all of its predecessor’s affordability, while evolving into more refined kit that’s comfortable, affordable, and easy to use. It is a reinvention. And its price is still very shocking: the ST 1 starts at £18,995. An ST 2, the sweet spot, will set you back around £20,000, and there’s a very tempting Performance Pack option for £850. Fingers crossed for a Mountune tuning pack soon…

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So, the big change. The engine is a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder unit that’s all-new and much cheaper than the 1.6-liter four-cylinder in the old car. In our tests, it’s averaged 38 mpg so far and managed more than 45 mpg on the highway. Not bad for outputs totaling 197 hp and 214 lb-ft. These are the same numbers as the old ST at its 20-second overboost, but the new one does the numbers over a wider rev band.

Meanwhile, when you cruise, it will turn off one cylinder to save fuel. Even the regular Fiesta EcoBoost can’t do that.

Inside, it’s a familiar Ford ST makeover. Huge, deeply bolstered Recaro seats face a flat-bottomed steering wheel bearing ST badging, and the gear gaiter is decorated with blue stitching. It’s your luck, but it’s enough to improve the mood. And the new Fiesta’s base cabin is far superior to the old car’s plastic with scalloped buttons.

It can have a three- or five-door body, there are two trim lines at launch, and few options. The alloy wheels shown in the photo are 18 inches; 17’s are standard. Do you want popsicles? To forget. At heart, it’s still a fun old-school hot hatch, even if some of its methods are decidedly 21st century.

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Read a long-term review of the Ford Fiesta ST by clicking on these blue words.

Our choice of the range.


What’s the verdict?

A commitment to reinvention, but the new adult but fun Fiesta ST is above all a winner. Buy one.

The Fiesta ST is, overall, a triumph. And considering how much of the old Ford has been scrapped and started over (engine, suspension, steering), that’s a great result. The innate cargo capacity is almost always there, and even if you sacrifice a little for more stability and comfort, the gain for many will be a lighter car to live in on a daily basis. Which, ultimately, is the point of a hot hatchback, right?

The ST fits well, drives cheekily, looks good, and is aggressively priced. The interior is a two-generation jump from before, just as good, too, and it’ll be cheaper to run. We’d like less mushy steering, the jury is still out on whether the modes really add anything meaningful to the ST’s personality, and the seat can literally be a pain in the butt, on first impressions. But that is not enough to discourage us. This is a very clever reimagining of a true Autofavourite. Basically buy one.

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