Review: Ford Fiesta ST 5dr
- Tested: Ford Fiesta ST3, turbocharged 1.5-litre EcoBoost S/S, 6-speed manual.
- RR Prices: £24,395 (BIK 31%). As tested: £26,445, see options fitted below.
- Fiesta range from £16,115 (3dr ‘Trend’, 1.1-litre Ti-VCT 75hp, 5-sp manual).
You’re in the market for a compact hot hatch and, to be fair, you’re feeling a tad underwhelmed with the current offerings. Admittedly, the Fiesta ST is receiving a helping hand these days thanks to the present dearth of direct rivals.
The inevitable GTi variant of Peugeot’s new 208 has yet to be announced, and there’s no word of an RS-badged Renault Clio either. The stonking 257hp Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris will only become available in early 2021…for at least £30k. The MINI Cooper S is far less fiery than the Fiesta ST and frankly, also too expensive. The ST’s only tangible threat comes from the Volkswagen Polo GTI and, perhaps – just perhaps – the Suzuki Swift Sport.
The Fiesta ST is powered by a 200hp turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that drives the front wheels through the aforementioned six-speed transmission. At £24,395 OTR, the Fiesta ST3 delivers affordable thrills that reward drivers of all skill levels.
So you didn’t have to, I’ve spent the last week self-isolating with ‘XBW’ – a Ford Fiesta ST, 1.5-litre EcoBoost S/S, 6-speed manual, presented in ‘3’ trim with a ‘Silver Fox’ paint finish.
All Fiesta ST’s (there are two) come with 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, tweaked exterior styling featuring a unique ST upper grille, front bumper, rear bumper, diffuser and unique paint colours.
Those familiar with the regular Ford Fiesta will recognise most of the ST’s interior; it’s more or less business as usual, save for a few sporty touches.
Chief among these are a set of very supportive Recaro sports seats (with an even more adjustable version as an option), which perform very well at holding you in place during fast cornering and directional flicks. The driving position is excellent, which is more than can be said of some of the Fiesta ST’s closest rivals, which often sit the driver too high up.
Fiesta ST’s also benefit from an ST-Line flat-bottomed steering wheel, sports pedals and three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Track – which also comes as standard.
The ST’s dashboard is carried over from the standard Ford Fiesta, albeit with a few small changes. Carbon fibre-style trim, that delightful flat-bottomed ST-badged steering wheel and a metallic-finished gear lever all feature, while optional shift lights sit in the dial cluster.
Practicality and space
Understandably, the Fiesta ST is no less practical than the regular Fiesta models. There’s ample space inside both three and five-door models, meaning it’s as family friendly as a car of this type can be. However, the five-door Fiesta - by rote - offers greater practicality and the rear doors open particularly wide too.
Front occupants get the best deal in either-bodied Fiesta ST, as the excellent Recaro sports seats are supportive, adjustable and comfortable. Legroom in the rear is much the same as standard versions, meaning there’s about as much space as you’d find in the back of a Polo GTI. Headroom is still an issue as in other Fiestas and taller passengers are best carried up front. This is particularly evident by the choosing of the optional opening panoramic roof.
The same array of centre and door cubbies feature on the ST as on the standard Fiesta; there’s a glovebox that’s 20% bigger than in the old model, while a one-litre storage bin can be found in the centre console. Each door pocket can carry a 500ml water bottle with ease.
The Fiesta ST is exactly the same as other models in the Fiesta range when it comes to the boot and that’s no bad thing. There’s a wide tailgate that opens to reveal a 292-litre boot; fold the rear seats and this expands to a usable 1,093 litres.
As with other Fiestas, an optional variable boot floor will help you make the most of this extended space or to store smaller items separately.
Trim grade and equipment
There are two trim levels from which to choose - ST2 and the ST3 as tested. There's a comprehensive list of standard equipment, including ST-specific styling inside and out, sports suspension, Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, cruise control and Ford’s ‘NCAP Pack’, which includes lane-keep assist and a speed limiter.
The ST2 trim also includes climate control, heated seats, blue seatbelts, a B&O Play stereo and a larger eight-inch infotainment screen are all added.
Top-spec ST3 versions get the largest 18-inch alloys, red brake calipers, satnav, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and a suite of driver assistance systems that includes traffic sign recognition, automatic high-beam headlights and driver alert.
Options fitted to ‘XBW’
With the ST3 grade being the very top-end Fiesta available in the UK, there were just three options fitted to the very-well equipped test car: Exclusive ‘Silver Fox’ paint (£750), Sliding panoramic roof (£700), and full LED headlamp clusters (£600). Total value of options: £2,050.
Engine and transmission
Both the Ford Fiesta ST2 and ST3 are powered by a potent 1.5-litre three-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine delivering 200hp on full whack, plus extra low-down power when the standard over-boost feature kicks in.
The 0-62mph sprint takes a brisk 6.5 seconds and the car’s top speed is 144mph. The engine feels strong, producing a suitably throaty exhaust rasp, aided by Ford’s Electronic Sound Enhancement, which uses the car’s stereo to further improve the sound. Select Sport or Track modes and the car’s exhaust will pop and crackle when you lift off the accelerator.
The previous Fiesta ST’s 1.6-litre four-pot was more willing to rev to its red line, whereas the new model’s three-cylinder doesn’t feel like it needs to be revved past 5,750rpm. However, keen drivers will enjoy the ST’s delightful short-throw six-speed manual gearbox.
On the road
Some hot hatch rivals offer a more traditional four-cylinder engine, but those looking for great performance and oodles of fun will not be left wanting by the Ford’s three-pot star.
Driving the Fiesta ST isn’t so much about the car’s engine but more about its excellent handling. The ST is sharp and responsive, with quick steering that feels well matched to the available grip. Those wanting to make fast, unfussy progress will be able to drive cross-country at a blistering pace, but the ST can also be thoroughly entertaining if you’re a keen driver trying to enjoy the road for its own sake.
Add the optional Performance Pack (costing around £900, but standard on the ST3) and you’ll benefit from a limited-slip differential made by specialist company Quaife; this helps the ST put its power down more convincingly, especially when exiting corners, limiting excessive wheel spin.
Launch control also comes as part of the pack, making fast getaways a breeze, along with shift lights to let you know when best to change gear.
Test week stats
During the test week, a total of 296 miles were driven over mixed roads at an average speed of 31mph, with 9:11hrs of driving time. While no attempt was made at frugality, the average fuel consumption was recorded at 42.2mpg, which sits in the upper echelons of the ‘Low-High’ WLTP band of 32.1 – 46.3 mpg.
The Ford Fiesta ST benefits from the standard Fiesta’s five-star Euro NCAP rating. This was broken down into adult and child occupant protection ratings of 87% and 84% respectively, while a rating of 64% was given for pedestrian protection.
The Fiesta’s 60% driver assistance rating is only average, but there are a number of systems that come as standard on certain ST models that don’t feature further down the Fiesta range, including lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and driver alert. Optional LED headlights and a blind-spot monitoring system are options worth adding to make your Fiesta ST as safe as possible.
Ford has revisited its Fiesta ST recipe and enhanced it even further. Replacing the previous 1.6-litre four-pot with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three was an inspired move.
If you’re still in the market for a hot hatch with a circa-£25k budget, then the hugely enjoyable Ford Fiesta ST should be at the very top of your shortlist. Super quick, fun, yet five-door practical and economical, the latest Ford Fiesta ST is one of Ford’s finest hot hatches…ever.
2018 Ford Fiesta ST timeline
- 2017: March – Premiered at the Geneva Motor Show.
- 2018: May – UK prices and model line-up announced.
- 2018: July – First customer deliveries via retail network.
Key Facts: Ford Fiesta ST3 5dr
- Engine: 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged.
- Max output: 200hp @6,000 rpm / 290Nm of torque from 1,600 – 4,000 rpm.
- Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox, to front wheels.
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds.
- Top speed: 144 mph.
- MPG: 32.1 – 46.3 (WLTP combined).
- Emissions: 136g CO₂/km.
- Fuel tank capacity: 42 litres.
- Kerb weight: 1,283kg.
- Towing capacity: N/A.
- Luggage capacity (row 2 seatbacks up/down): 292 / 1,093 litres.
- Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles.
- Servicing: 12 months or 12,000 miles.
- Insurance group: 28E.
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