Ford Fiesta ST review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The new 180bhp Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch offers a sweet drive, good looks and was also voted Best Hot Hatch at the Auto Express awards

For: 
Brilliant handling, subtle styling upgrades, great value for money
Against: 
Three-door only, firm ride, smaller boot than its rivals

The UK has had a long love affair with fast Fords and that looks set to continue with the arrival of the new Ford Fiesta ST - it's so good, we think the Ford Fiesta ST is the very best hot hatch in the business.

Taking the already impressive standard Ford Fiesta as a base, Ford has added sporty styling tweaks inside and out that only enhance the regular Fiesta’s looks, while power comes from a 180bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Add in stiffer suspension, a sports exhaust and a pair of very supportive Recaro seats, and the Fiesta ST is a thrilling package.

The fact that it undercuts its rivals – the Renaultsport ClioPeugeot 208 GTi, MINI Cooper S and Audi S1 by a significant margin – is the icing on the cake. If you want even more power then Ford's accredited tuners, Mountune, offer an upgrade to 217bhp. Nothing else is touched and the Ford warranty even stays intact. It'll cost you just over £600 and in our eyes it's definitely worth doing. 

Our choice: Fiesta ST-2

Styling

3.9

The Ford Fiesta ST is a good-looking hot hatch, even without a premium badge. Aggressive bumpers, wider side sills and its own version of the reworked Fiesta’s large trapezoidal grille enhance the already attractive proportions of the three-door Fiesta body.

Sitting 15mm lower on its sports suspension and attractive 17-inch wheels (the dark grey rims of the ST-1 used for our pictures are a £275 upgrade), the ST has a sporty stance on the road, while LED running lights and rear privacy glass are standard. 

Inside, the generous equipment tally from Ford extends to sat-nav, keyless start, heated seats and cruise control. Other highlights include a chunky leather steering wheel and leather-trimmed Recaro sports seats.

But while the ST additions give the likeable and solid Fiesta cabin some extra glitz, and the driving position is perfect, it lacks the upmarket appeal of the MINI and Audi.

Driving

5

Opt for the Ford and you may miss the style of the MINI or the Audi quattro four-wheel-drive system. However, you won’t feel short-changed by the driving experience - our reigning hot hatch of the year is simply sensational.

The already class-leading Fiesta chassis has been enhanced by faster steering, increased roll stiffness and bespoke damping settings. Unlike its rivals, the ST is refreshingly free of adjustable drive modes – yet from the moment you settle into the driver’s seat, the Ford’s well engineered simplicity means it’s an absolute joy. 

Around town the only real notable difference over the standard Fiesta is the firm ride but in turn that translates into superb body control and handling when you get onto a twister B-road. It's here where the ST really shines, it always feels composed and the steering is beautifully balanced. The gearlever is perfectly placed and the changes are short and sharp. The ST has all of the ingredients that make an outstanding hot hatch.


Ford Fiesta ST3 2013 interior

Even better, the Mountune upgrade worth around £600 ensures that the ST isn’t left behind in the performance stakes. The 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine is pretty punchy in standard guise, but an aluminium airbox with a better filter and an ECU remap boosts power from 180bhp to 212bhp, while torque jumps from 290Nm to 320Nm.

So is the Ford dynamically perfect? Well, there’s just one bugbear: the stiff ride. Rigid at low speed, the suspension is unforgiving and you’ll find yourself bobbing up and down in the seat as the ST reacts and wriggles over bumpy tarmac. It’s not bad enough to upset the car’s cornering composure, it just makes long journeys a bit tiring.

 

Reliability

4.2

The Fiesta ST is part of Ford’s One Ford car philosophy. So while it’s a sporty model, it still uses proven tech from elsewhere in the range.

The 1.6-litre engine is fitted to the Kuga and the rear suspension is borrowed from the B-MAX, while all cars get SYNC voice activation and Ford’s MyKey programmable key system, which allows the car’s owner to programme a key to limit the car’s speed, mute the stereo unless all seatbelts are on, and flash up more conservative warnings for low fuel.

The Fiesta ST shares the regular car's five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and comes with a full complement of safety kit, including seven airbags and electronic stability control.

If the Mountune upgraded Ford Fiesta ST is your thing, but the idea of aftermarket upgrades make you nervous, you needn’t worry, as the power upgrade is covered under the Ford warranty. Thanks to its long-running relationship with Mountune, Ford officially approves the modifications, which is a strong indication that reliability shouldn’t be affected. You can get the upgrades fitted to your ST at one of 150 approved dealers, and in the first five months over 500 owners bought the Mountune pack. 

The standard ST feels solidly built and comes with a safety kit tally that includes three-stage stability control and seven airbags. The only concern is Ford’s 25th place ranking in our Driver Power 2014 survey and the Fiesta’s slightly low reliability ranking.  

Practicality

4.2

Although it’s a performance model, underneath the ST is just a three-door Fiesta, which means that it still retains a useful 290-litre boot and rear-seat space isn’t too compromised by the chunky Recaro front seats. Their bulky nature, however, means climbing in and out makes life slightly difficult.

And as with the standard Fiesta, there's plenty of useful storage of odds and ends, including a large glovebox, deep door bins and numerous cupholders. The front seats are set nice and low and are very comfortable, but the firm ride does take the edge off comfort slightly, though. 

With a 290-litre boot, the ST has the biggest luggage space of the three cars in the test, and while the rear seats don’t lie fully flat, when they’re folded you get 974 litres. There’s plenty of storage options around the cabin, too. 

Engine noise is well suppressed at 70mph, too, making it a comfortable car to drive longer distances. However, the addition of a larger engine and six-speed gearbox has increased the Ford's turning circle, so it can be hard work in crowded car parks.

You can add a space saver spare wheel for £100, but this reduces boot capacity with the seats up to 276 litres.

Running Costs

4.2

Like any performance car, the harder you drive, the greater your motoring expenses will be. Ford claims 47.9mpg for the Fiesta ST, but this will soon plummet once you hit your favourite back road, or take the car on track.

Ford offers the Fiesta in three different trim levels. The range kicks off with the standard ST (£17,250) with the ST2 (£18,250) adding creature comforts such as air conditioning, part-leather Recaro seats and DAB radio. Ford has recently added a new range-topping ST3 trim to the range due to customer demand, which adds kit such as sat nav, keyless go, cruise control, climate control and auto lights and wipers as standard. It costs a further £1,000 over the ST2 but the Fiesta still remains better value than the Renault Clio RS and Peugeot 208. 

The Fiesta ST is the first Fiesta to feature disc brakes all round, but remember to budget for extra wear on pads, discs and tyres if you plan to do track days – and given how fun the Fiesta is to drive, it’d be a shame not to.

Given its impressive performance potential, the Ford emits just 138g/km of CO2, which makes it a surprisingly cost effective choice for company car users. However, unlike many of its competitors, the Fiesta isn't available with a fixed priced servicing package.

Disqus - noscript

Off to chat about this very car with my dealer tomorrow :) Well I do have the Zetec S from 2009. like the Fiesta so much I'm gonna get an ST. Great review.

The review was a bit of a paradox. When bench marking the vehicle, the Fiesta didn't achieve 5* in any of the tests. However, the car achieved 5* overall. Like eh?

since when did it only come in 3 colours what about black an white an also how is the styling kit the only option on this car, have you actually read the brochure or looked on fords website?? cause it sure as hell dont look like it :/ what a crap review

The last ST also had disc brakes all round. Maybe research next time?

Nice no doubt although I would still prefer the previous front mask with the larger bottom opening and not have it on top as this one. Good package and top performance right there at the top of the line. However, I think it is time for the new Cliosport to edge the Fiesta even by the slightest of margin. It would serve justice for the French who finally created a leader in this class.

It looks okay as a 2 seater with an occasional rear seat that WILL be compromised by those Recaro seats, gorgeous though they always are in whatever car! Don't like the horrid "corporate" nose. It was far better as it was so why on earth did they fiddle with it? !! A Dearborne directive??

bad point : 3 doors only? sorry this is a hot hatch, the focus should be 3 doors not 5, may be you are the sort of fool that asked for an estate version of the focus. as for cheaper "maintenance" have you noticed the fiesta range gets a £199 service deal for every model bar one, the 2.0 st model. so do you not think the same "st not included" t&c will continue?

I would certainly go out and buy the new Fiesta ST if it came in a 5 door body! Come on Ford, you're selling it in the US as a 5 door why can't the UK and Europe have a 5 door variant? Would be a lot more user friendly for day to day use and would probably be cheaper due to not having to have the folding mechanism on the Recaro front seats!

This is one of those cars which looks better in pictures than reality. That nose looks very cheaply executed.

I don't mean to be pedantic, but when you say about it being the first fiesta with disc brakes all round you're wrong as I have the previous fiesta ST and it has disc brakes all round. Just thought you may want to get your facts right before you publish it on your very reputable website and magazine!

A good looking car! Have owned RS2000 in the past. A mention, perhaps, of the Skoda Fabia vRS? 180 bhp, DSG with paddles, Estate version available.

Not everyone has the luxury of only needing a 3 door - my company policy is 4/5 door vehicles. So, Vauxhall and Renault missed out on my car order, but Ford didn't.

Only one comment to make....auto express have stated this ia the first fiesta to have disc brakes all the way round,wrong. My 2008 fiesta ST has disc breaks all the way round as stanard....hmmmmm.apart from that i want the new ST look amazing and if its half as good as the previous one then it will be epic to drive.

A nice, proper hot hatch indeed. Many things can be said about how the Fiesta ST is good. But i would like to hold a better steering wheel while trying to handle the 180 hp. just saying.

Girly car thats Made in Germany, appeal to me in no way at all.

Would best suit a young female hairdresser from Essex.

When you see the size of a modern hatchback compared to the size of a family hatchback there is not a lot in it. When I park my mk2 Focus next to a new Fiesta it is almost the same length. Hatchbacks have got much much bigger over the years.

Im 19, Ive placed a order for one of these, Out of my own hard earned money, please don't associate age with the inability to earn money, it comes off pretty condisending.
Plus the average wage for a fully employed 18 year old averages at 17k a year, now outright buying the car may not be a option for all but financing at a low APR% is reasonable.
The world doesnt revolve around the 40 year old big money earner anymore its not the 1940's

I think what "Fried_Egg" is saying is, 4-5 doors are for more of a "family" traited kind of driver and a 3 door car is for someone who wants to drive fast and a little crazy (all be it safe) And you can't/should'nt do that with kids/other people in a car.
now if its company policy, well you can't really blame ford for another companies policy
Fight the system my friend, fight the system

It's got nothing to do with being a big money earner, I'm in my 40s and my annual fully comp insurance is £150 on a 2 litre car. If it was £2000+ every year added to the price of the car then I wouldn't buy one. Good APR or not. And I wouldn't choose to drive something like a hot hatch which doesn't get much respect, and are aimed at the boy racers (pejorative term, not condescending).

180 BHP doesn't need much handling.

And she would drive away from you in it, while having more fun. Its a great car

I agree with you! 3 door are perfect, I have my own fiesta, bought it on wheeldeal and it was in better price that 5door one.
it is more sporty i think

disc Brakes all round. damn, what a high-tek car this is! my 92 civic hatch had this 20 years before, and bout the engine, don't Need to tell :D

Oh! I bought my car at wheeldeal too, great service and car dealers, and I am looking now for ford fiesta, do you want to sell yours at wheeldeal?

Last updated: 15 Jul, 2014
AEX 1,341
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