The Ford Fiesta ST has always been about giving more for less, with knockout performance at a knockdown price. And now there’s a new range-topping ST-3 model, packed with more kit and still cheaper than the Peugeot 208 GTi and Renaultsport Clio.
We’re already well versed with the ST’s capabilities, but a slight niggle’s always been about standard kit – or lack of it. Customers have complained, too, hence why Ford has introduced the fully loaded ST-3. Added standard-fit goodies include keyless entry, sat-nav, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, plus climate control.
In return, Ford asks only £1,000 over the ST-2, at £19,250 – that’s £745 and £495 cheaper respectively than the Clio RS Lux and 208 GTi Prestige.
Wisely, it’s left the ST-3’s mechanicals untouched. That means the 180bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine remains, twinned with the slick-shifting six-speed manual box. From the moment you hit the starter button, the ST never fails to impress.
The raspy exhaust encourages you to press on as you rifle through the gears. In corners, the ST always feels composed as it bites into the tarmac and slingshots you out with infectious vigour.
There’s no escaping the overly firm ride, and around town the car can get rather jittery, but the trade-off is faultless handling and body control. If you prefer a softer set-up with similar punch, Ford also now offers the standard Fiesta with a 138bhp version of the excellent 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine.
You can squeeze three adults into the back, but the 290-litre boot isn’t as accommodating as the Clio’s. However, such minor flaws are hardly deal-breakers, and the new flagship ST-3 builds on Ford’s reputation for producing outstanding-value hot hatches.