GRR Garage: Four things we love about our new Fiesta ST
We’ve had a few weeks now to digest the capabilities of our latest long-termer – the Ford Fiesta ST. So we thought it time we scribbled down a short series of things we really like about it so far.
Let’s start with what’s under the bonnet. We’ve been very fortunate recently to spend some time in a series of cars blessed with excellent powertrains, and the Feista ST is no different. When it was first announced, the third-generation ST drew some gasps of disproval when it was revealed that the little fast Ford was to drop a cylinder, now blessed with a turbocharged three-cylinder, rather than the outgoing four. Can there be any advantages to losing cylinders? The answer is yes. The new engine is an absolute gem, not only full of torque and power, and not a hint of turbo lag, but also now putting out a quite wonderful little burble. The idea that an inline-three is “half a flat-six” isn’t entirely without merit, as far from hurting the Fiesta the move from four to three has, if anything, only enhanced the noise it makes. Four cylinders are so last year. Three is the magic number.
We can’t lie, and we’ve said it before in our review of the Ford Focus Active, the old Ford interior was starting to get a bit dated. It had been around for quite some time and needed a refresh. With the new Fiesta and its cousins Ford jumped up to meet its rivals. Now there is a touchscreen perched amid the dash, plenty of nice plastics, and while the trip computer is perhaps not as flashy as some of its rivals it is easy to use and well laid out. The infotainment system focuses on ease of use, rather than being all bells and whistles, and is all the better for it. The system is intuitive and simple, there’s nothing more you really need in a performance car. Behind the wheel and the ST’s incredibly supportive Recaros seem to grab you and hug you tightly, although those of a broader thigh may find them slightly cosseting. Perfect for a car which you can absolutely hurl around.
Ford has prided itself for some time on producing real drivers’ cars, even in the lower ends of the range. One of the big parts of that has been an excellent manual ‘box. The one found in the latest Fiesta ST is no exception. The throw is short and satisfying, with a slight mechanical nature that lets you know that you’re a real part of the drama of driving. The pedals are positioned well for heel and toe, and if you stick the car in race mode you’ll be rewarded with a series of pops and crackles from the exhaust as you shift. A car like this would be nothing without a satisfying gearbox experience, and some competitors, so quick to run to paddle-shift should take note. We buy hot hatches for the experience, not for them to be the be all and end all in fast motoring.
Speaking of which, the car is still monstrously fast for a supermini. The 200PS (197bhp) from that 1.5-litre EcoBoost is delivered so well to the front wheels that it’ll hit 60mph in just 6.3 seconds. There was a time recently when fast coupes would only expect to be just about ducking below seven seconds, so the advances in hot hatchery are staggering. Our version comes with the optional diff, which makes the car an absolute hoot to drive. You can throw the Fiesta into a corner, expect the front to grip like it’s in Free Solo and then lift the rear wheel as the back-end joins in. All the while you feel in the very centre of things, enjoying every pop and crackle and feeling completely cocooned by those Recaros. The Fiesta ST isn’t the fastest way to get from A to B, but it’s up there and, unlike some cars which choose to get you there wildly fast but feeling entirely unengaged, the Fiesta lifts you up to the surface, crowning you the king of the road. In your own head at least.