Ford Fiesta ST.

   I passed my test in 1990, in a MK3 Ford Fiesta. First time too, I hasten to add. But student budgets being what they were back then simply I couldn’t afford anything as advanced as a blue 1,100c, 3 door Fiesta Popular complete with its 4 speed gearbox and optional rear wash-wipe, like that of my instructor’s.  Upon gaining my freedom, my first car was an orange Hillman Imp. 

   In the 1990’s no one but me wanted an Imp – hence perhaps it being so cheap. Or was it the fact that it had no virtually no brakes or padding in the driver’s seat whatsoever? What everyone lusted over back then was hot-hatches: Volkswagen Golf GTi, Peugeot 205GTi and 309 GTi, Renault 5 GT turbo and Clio Williams, Vauxhall Astra GTE, Ford XR3i and RS Turbo, Citroen AX GTi… More often than not they were red (with the exception of the very blue Clio) – or at least the seat-piping was. Their mix of performance and practicality made them the must-have motor.

   Ironically, it was that that nearly killed them. Early ‘90’s door-lock and car alarm technology made hot-hatches as steal-able as they were desirable. The inevitable ever-increasing insurance premiums that followed saw them all-but die out.

   A few hung on of course, VW’s now iconic Golf GTi is very nearly in its 8th generation. Working-class heroes Ford kept their hand in too; where once there was their Fiesta XR2, there’s now this: The Ford Fiesta ST.

   This isn’t the first time Ford have built a Fiesta ST, its roots can be traced back to the 150bhp 2.0litre offerings of 2014. Then came a turbocharged 1.6 litre ST; a smaller engine, but more power: 178bhp to be precise. And came the car we see here, the 1.5 litre, 197bhp, 214lbft, Fiesta ST. Again the format is the same, a smaller engine producing more power, but what might surprise you is that now all that power and torque is produced by just three cylinders.

    Weighing in at just 1,267kg the Fiesta ST is then, needless to say, somewhat swift. Ford claim it’s capable of 144mph. That’s something I can’t accurately verify, but their boast of 0-60 in 6.5 seconds seems believable enough. Quite how they managed to eke-out 47.1 mpg is also matter of question. I never bettered 39. Ford say the ST is capable running on only two cylinders under light loads – perhaps my loads were slightly heavier.  

   To be fair the Fiesta ST, despite its ability to seat 4 and swallow the weekly shop, or indeed a washing machine if you fold the rear seats down, isn’t really the kind of hatchback in which one merely pops to the shops. The steering is incredibly direct, it stands on super grippy Michelin Sport Pilot tyres, the suspension is much, much firmer and lower, and there’s even a limited slip differential and launch control (Should you spec the optional Performance Pack).

    This then is a Fiesta in which to seek out your favourite roads – purely for the hell of it. On smooth tarmac and ensconced within the ST’s supremely huggy and heated Recaro seats, you can cover ground incredibly quickly. The ST darts into corners and changes direction like a spring rabbit being chased by its foe. The engine burbles, and pops on the over-run. It makes you feel like a tarmac-rally pro.

   Or at least it does if you’re in the right mood, and on the right road. On bumpy B-road surfaces the ride is just too hard; you buck and bounce constantly. There’s far too much road rumble to ever relax, and that engine noise – some of which is actually synthetic and piped through the speakers – just becomes tiresome. A quick blast is fine; a late night run back from the airport is a chore. Trust me, I’ve done both.

    And therein lies the conclusion. If you like your hot-hatches to play the ultimate all-rounder role you’ll soon grow weary of the Fiesta ST, it’s too focused on trying to offer the best driving experience at the cost of comfort, and everyday usability. The interior despite being a vast improvement on Fords of old is still a tad bargain-basement in places too – there’s nothing to worry Volkswagen here.

   However, if really you want your Fiesta to remind you of what is it that made to learn to drive in the first place, to deliver the very essence of what affordable driver involvement and enjoyment should be, then honestly, you should look no further than this.

  

        

Ford FIESTA ST-2 1.5T Ecoboost 200PS

 

Engine: 1,497cc 3-cylinder 12V Petrol turbo.

Power:  197 bhp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 214 lbft @ 1,600 rpm

Transmission:  6 speed manual, Front-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph in 6.5 sec

Max Speed: 144 mph

MPG: 47.1 Combined.

CO2: 136 g/km

Price: From £20,495

 

 

Twitter and Instagram: @bird_liam

Many Thanks to all at Ford’s UK’s press office.

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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