Ford Fiesta ST Review
Fun, Feisty, Fiesta. The latest fast Ford is also one of its greatest
Strengths & weaknesses
- Fun and fast
- Good value
- Sounds great
- Pricey options
- Hard seats
- Looks are a little mild
Hot hatches. They’re a strange bunch. Fast yet practical. Fun but reliable. Stylish but still easy to use.
And while mega hatches like the Mercedes AMG 45, Volkswagen Golf R, and Audi RS3 make huge power and lots of noise, the little Fiesta ST is a more subtle, manageable, and approachable way of having a car that’s small and practical but also incredibly engaging.
In short, this hot-hatch has grown up. Part of this growing up process seems to be the shrinking of its engine size. This new Fiesta has ‘just’ a 1.5-litre engine with three-cylinders. If you’re a petrolhead news of this has probably already breached your consciousness.
It goes toe to toe with the Renaultsport Clio and Volkswagen Polo GTI, while the Fiesta’s most common rival, the Vauxhall Corsa, makes do with a GSI spec car, which isn’t quite in the same ballpark. The Suzuki Swift Sport, much like the Corsa, is more of a tepid hatch.
The Fiesta ST will set you back atleast £18,995 from new, but can make its way to £23,000 with options.
Traditional hot-hatches used to have two-litre engines, then turbocharging and the downsizing of capacity because of emissions became the norm. The good news here, is that the engine is corking. It’s powerful (197hp), and feels urgent when the turbo kicks in. It sounds brilliant too, with an offbeat buzz that’s hugely likable. Some of that noise is pumped into the interior via the speakers, but you’ll be hard done by to figure this out on your own.
0-62 should only take 6.5seconds, yet it feels quicker than that. The Fiesta blends the characteristics of quickness in an addictive concoction. The throttle is sharp, and the gearchange is short and snickety. Snatching first can sometimes prove too elusive, though.
It also features different driving modes that work in a similar way to the system used in the Ford Focus RS. It has three modes, normal, sport, and track. None of these modes can make suspension changes, but they do change the exhaust, steering, and traction controls. Normal has all the safety controls turned on, sport adds a few fancy spits from the exhaust, and track disables some elements of the stability control. It all works well and you can easily see and feel the difference between the modes. Normal is good for keeping neighbours happy, sport is what most hot-hatch buyers will default too, and track is strictly for track use, according to Ford anyway. It also has a launch control setting which helps the car take off in the quickest way possible.
The Fiesta also has an optional (£850, which also adds launch control) limited-slip differential. This essentially limits the amount of power a wheel can get in order to reduce wheelspin, and make it quicker in the process. If you’re a keen driver it’s well worth it, you can feel it pulling you out of corners, and wheelspin is never an issue.
Keeping you in your place as Recaro bucket seats. They’re really deep and with thick side bolsters and even thicker stitching. They’re great, at first, but on longer journeys the hardness can be a bit of a pain (literally) in the bum. Also if we’re being picky, they might just be set a bit too high. Even at its lowest setting, it’s not all that low.
Elsewhere inside you'll find Ford’s latest SYNC system. It’s intuitive to use, has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a decent-enough sat nav. Although, once Waze and Google Maps go live thanks to the latest iOS update, we suspect most iPhone users won’t bother with it.
It’s extremely competent in most respects, looks great, and is fast enough for most situations. It’s not as hardcore as the Renaultsport Clio, but it knows its place as the best hot-hatch you can live with every day.
|Three years/60,000 miles
|£140 per year
Best Ford Fiesta ST for...
Best for Families – Ford Fiesta ST five-door
The Fiesta comes in three or five door flavour. Five door cars are better for bundling kids in and out of. They attract a price increase of £650.
Best for Performance – Ford Fiesta ST (with performance pack)
The engine’s power doesn’t change here, but for the best performance opt for the Performance Pack with the limited-slip-differential.
Understanding Ford Fiesta ST names
Engine 1.5 EcoBoost
There's only one engine available with the ST, a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol
There is only a manual 'box with the ST
There are three trim levels to choose from
Ford Fiesta ST Engines
There’s only one engine to pick from with the new Fiesta ST, but don’t worry, because it’s more than up to the job.
It’s a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged unit. It’s down 0.1 of a litre from the old ST’s engine and it’s missing a full cylinder. It makes similar power, and is a smidge faster on the 0-62mph sprint than the old car.
It has near-as-makes-no-difference 200hp and has a 0-62mph time of 6.5seconds. While there’s never enough to make you scared or wince, the whoosh of speed as the turbo comes on song is enough to make you smile.
The little three-cylinder has sharp throttle inputs, meaning you get near full acceleration with minimal throttle pedal travel. This makes it feel quick and darty to drive.
The soundtrack is brilliant when in sport mode, as when you lift off the accelerator, there's a little pop pop bang bang from the exhaust. It’s great at first, but it is worth noting that it is synthesised and then piped into the car via the stereo. The pops and bangs are very uniform after a while too, always seemingly going off at the same time and with the same ferocity.
Despite all these benefits of the car, the real reason why the engine is downsized is to cut emissions and improve mpg. Ford reckons you can hit 47.1mpg, but as ever, take this with a pinch of salt. On our two-week long test we did average close to 40mpg. Watch this decrease to around 30mph if you’re really enjoying yourself. We should also mention that the Fiesta ST uses a form of cylinder deactivation. Essentially when coasting, and under very light use, one of the three cylinders will cut off completely in order to save fuel. Very clever.
Ford Fiesta ST Trims
ST-1, ST-2, ST-3
Despite the fact that the Fiesta ST, is in fact a derivation of the Fiesta, that doesn’t stop it having three different derivations for itself.
First up is the ST-1. This is the cheapest of the lot, and has a pretty decent amount of kit. ST-1 cars get air con, Recaro sports seats, selectable drive modes, cruise control, Ford SYNC with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a flat bottomed steering wheel.
ST-2 spec cars get different alloy wheels, heated front seats, rear privacy glass, and a B&O audio system.
The plushest STs, ST-3 specified cars, get electrically operated door mirrors, keyless entry and keyless start, as well as driver assistance features like traffic sign recognition, auto high beam, and driver alert systems.
Ford Fiesta ST Reliability and warranty
Ford’s three-year/60,000 mile warranty is a standard set for most manufacturers, and is on par with most of its competitors.
Used Ford Fiesta ST
This new ST has only just gone on sale, so it’s hard to give useful data here. Historically fast Fords have held their values well, and demand will be high for the short-term future at least. So don’t expect to see many huge reductions soon.
The Ford Fiesta is the UK’s most popular car – it looks good, drives well and makes a great used buy
The Ford Fiesta ST may offer the most driving fun you can have on a small budget
Great value - new and used - good to drive and well-equipped: the latest Ford Fiesta is a fantastic all-round supermini