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. Taking the already impressive standard car 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 Clio and Peugeot 208 GTi by around £2,000 – 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

4.8

The arrival of the Fiesta ST coincides with the facelifted version of the regular Fiesta hatchback. However, the ST gets its own interpretation of the enlarged trapezoidal front grille, flanked by narrow projector headlights. The car also features a more aggressive-looking front bumper, which houses a pair of foglights. All models are three-door only (although a five-door version is sold in the US), which adds to the sporty look but comes at the expense of practicality. Both ST and ST-2 trim get smart 17-inch alloys as standard, plus a chunkier rear wing and chunkier bumper. Inside, all STs get supportive Recaro seats, piano black trim and a sports steering wheel, which combine to give the car a smart, subtly sporty look that gives it just enough differentiation from the rest of the Fiesta range. All versions get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and heated windscreen, while the ST-2 adds privacy glass, heated seats and keyless start.

Driving

5

Ford has two types of performance models – range-topping RS and warmer ST. As this car falls into the latter category, it's been designed with everyday useability in mind. Its steering is light, direct and offers plenty of feedback. For such a small unit, the engine sounds great, helped by a sound symposer that pipes bassier engine notes into the interior, while throttle response is instant and it shows a good turn of pace. An overboost function delivers 200bhp for 15 second bursts, while 290Nm of torque means there's strong in-gear flexibility. The suspension is 15mm lower than the regular car, and around 12 per cent stiffer, which ensures extremely engaging handling and excellent body control. Standard torque vectoring and a three-mode traction control system help, too. And while the Fiesta darts quickly into corners, it never feels nervous or edgy. Unfortunately, the trade-off for such incredible agility is a very firm low speed ride - although it's more comfortable on the motorway.

Reliability

4.4

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.

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. 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, while the ride is firm but nice and supple. 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.

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, but this will soon plummet once you hit your favourite back road, or take the car on track. 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, while Ford's dealers performed poorly in our 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

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.

Last updated: 17 May, 2013

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