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Ford Fiesta ST review

The Ford Fiesta ST is the sportiest version of the Fiesta you can buy. Adding more power, visual clout and technology to the Fiesta base, the ST is a great value hot hatch that’s just as easy to live with as other versions. The Ford Fiesta ST is ideal for those who want a hatchback that can entertain and excite, but don’t want to have to pay the Earth for the privilege.

Design

Let’s be frank, Ford’s designers didn’t exactly have a hard task in dressing up the Fiesta to make the ST model. The base Fiesta is already a sporty-looking, handsome thing, so with only a set of bigger alloys, a boot spoiler and some ST badges, it’s easily one of the best-looking hot hatches out there. Ford made some big changes to the design when it created the latest model, but the previous generation has aged excellently well, so it still looks fresh and great. 

Each Ford Fiesta ST comes with either 17- or 18-inch wheels, with big brakes behind to emphasise the muscle on offer. At the back, the ST gets two little exhaust pipes as a cheeky nod to its performance credentials, but at the same time, the Fiesta never looks too boisterous or aggressive. It’s a well-judged little terrier.

Each Ford Fiesta ST comes with either 17- or 18-inch wheels, with big brakes behind to emphasise the muscle on offer.

What’s it like to drive?

An absolute hoot. Honestly, the Fiesta ST is so fun, that it’s not just a great hot hatch, it’s a fantastic car against the calibre of any class or segment. The Fiesta ST can entertain at any speed because it’s so reactive, with an accelerator pedal that’s so responsive you only need to tickle it to hear a reaction from the engine. The steering responds very quickly to your hands and the six-speed manual gearbox (no auto is available) is slick and precise. It puts more expensive cars to shame.

Earlier STs came with Ford’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, a punchy, characterful motor with a healthy 200hp to play with. Latest cars get a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine with the same power output, but even greater fuel efficiency, meaning they add some eco-credentials to an equally enthusiastic package – complete with a purposeful growl. Best of all, those brilliant engines always come mated to a car that handles superbly. The Fiesta ST has long been the best handling car in its class, and has held strong, even in the face of its latest rival, the Hyundai i20 N.

The Fiesta ST can entertain at any speed because it’s so reactive, with an accelerator pedal that’s so responsive you only need to tickle it to hear a reaction from the engine.

Interior

Thanks to its top-rank status in the Ford Fiesta line-up, the ST brings racy additions to the interior. There are hip-hugging seats, a sports steering wheel and matching dials, while the latest car gets a bigger infotainment screen and a button to control the drive modes. The seating position is absolutely spot on for a car of this nature, while the back seats remain equally as spacious as the normal model. You lose nothing in the ST’s transition.

As for the technology aboard, there’s a lot of it, especially if you go for Ford’s highest-ranking performance hatch, the ST-3 (there’s also an ST-2 or, in earlier models, an ST-1). There you’ll find cruise control, heated and part-leather seats, as well as a powerful sound system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are thrown in on later cars, along with a standard-fit heated windscreen, which is a godsend on an icy morning.

Practicality

Aside from a very slightly firmer ride created by the hot model’s sportier suspension, the Ford Fiesta ST doesn’t really sacrifice anything in the way of practicality compared to its sibling models. The boot remains easily big enough to swallow three cabin-sized suitcases, the back seats can hold three adults and the front comes equipped with cup holders and storage areas worthy of your bags of chocolate, sweets and coffee cups.

Like the rest of the range, the Fiesta ST also comes in both three- and five-door guises, so those needing greater access to the rear seats can find a car appropriately finished. That said, the Fiesta has never been the most spacious car in its class, nor is it the most spacious for rear passengers. Rivals like the Skoda Fabia are better equipped in this department. But those cars don’t have a high performance model to match the Fiesta ST, something that highlights just how well-rounded the hot hatch version is.

Like the rest of the range, the Fiesta ST also comes in both three- and five-door guises.

Running costs and reliability

Ford’s range of EcoBoost engines are considered to be strong and reliable, and the ST engines are among the most technologically impressive of the pile. The earlier 1.6-litre cars are tough and capable, requiring no more maintenance than your average car engine. While the later 1.5-litre engine adds to that with brilliant economy on a run, because it can switch to just two-cylinder-operation (it’s a three-cylinder in normal running), sipping on fuel to over 40 miles per gallon (or maybe that should be smiles per gallon).

That’s downright brilliant for a car offering so much performance, and emphasises the long-term affordability of ST ownership. While these later models aren’t old enough yet to really be tested to higher miles, so far, things look very good. Ford’s latest EcoBoost engine has done the family proud.

What cinch loves

Where do we start? If it’s not the great looks or punchy engines, it’s the excitable, enthusiastic handling that’s bang on what most hot hatch buyers will be looking for. It’s hard to pick fault with Ford’s Fiesta ST, and when you consider how affordable these machines are, the prospect of ownership will only seem more appealing.

It’s hard to pick fault with Ford’s Fiesta ST.

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Verdict

Great!

The Ford Fiesta ST has been top of the hot hatch class since the seventh-generation car arrived in 2013. While it’s faced some close challengers – including Peugeot’s impressive 208 GTI and, most recently, Hyundai’s i20 N – it has fended them all off to remain our pick of the bunch. For all-round hot hatch thrills without compromise on daily usability, the Ford Fiesta ST is a champ.

This review was

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