Ford Fiesta ST review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The 180bhp Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch offers a sweet drive, good looks and good value

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 standard Fiesta is one of the most stylish superminis, so Ford hasn’t had to work too hard to transform it into a muscular pocket rocket. 

The design changes really stand out, though. At the front, there’s a larger mesh grille with a deeper front bumper, while the standard car’s sleek, swept-back headlamps give the ST a more aggressive look. LED daytime running lights add a final flourish, while at the rear, a subtle yellow Mountune badge hints at the car’s enhanced performance potential.

Buyers wanting to make an even bigger impression can add the £275 ST Style pack, which includes the dark-grey 17-inch alloys fitted to our test car. While the standard silver rims fill the bulging wheelarches perfectly well, the darker wheels increase the Fiesta’s visual presence and give it a more aggressive stance.

Red brake calipers (also part of the ST Style pack, along with illuminated ST sill plates), a large boot spoiler, a deeper rear bumper and twin exhaust tailpipes complete the racy makeover.

Inside, the changes are less obvious, with metal pedals, bright red flashings for the part-leather Recaro seats and revised dials the only highlights. The bespoke instruments are much easier to read than in the regular car, which is welcome.

There’s lots of kit on offer, too. The top-spec ST-3 model comes with with cruise control, heated seats, keyless go and sat-nav all as standard. However, the interior is let down by its fussy layout and the small infotainment screen that’s set too far back in the dash. And while the cabin is robustly built, it’s not as upmarket as rivals like the MINI Cooper S and VW Polo GTI.

Driving

5

From the moment you lower yourself into the Ford’s figure-hugging Recaro seats, grip its chunky three-spoke steering wheel and place your feet on its perfectly spaced pedals, you know this is a car that puts the driver at the centre of the action.

At the heart of the ST’s appeal is its sublime chassis. Retuned suspension dampers and faster steering mean its limits are raised dramatically over the standard car’s, but despite its hardcore approach, the Ford always feels accessible. Turn-in is sharp, and the ST locks on to a cornering line, but it’s so balanced that quick direction changes are incredibly stable, aided by a neat torque vectoring system that subtly brakes individual front wheels to eliminate understeer.

On the track, this means the Fiesta can carry more speed through corners than either of its rivals here, and this translates on to the road, where the precision and grip give you the confidence to drive harder. It also benefits from well weighted controls which provide just the right amount of feedback.

It has the great-sounding engine, with a delicious rasp that makes you rev it harder. It’s paired with a brilliant six-speed manual gearbox, which features a precise, short-throw shift action.

Settle down to a gentler pace, though, and the Ford takes on a more subdued role. The suspension is firm, but the smooth, controlled damping means long-distance journeys are more comfortable than in the jarring Vauxhall Corsa VXR, although the car’s low-profile tyres do give some intrusive road roar at higher speeds.

Reliability

4.2

The Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling car and has been in production for six years, so niggles should be few and far between. This is backed up by our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, in which the popular Ford finished a respectable 52nd out of 200. 

Less impressive are the brand’s dealers, which placed a lowly 27th out of 32 in our 2014 poll. On the plus side, if your Fiesta does go wrong in any way, you won’t have to travel far to get it fixed as Ford has 781 garages across the country. 

Standard safety equipment is generous, and includes seven airbags and Ford’s intelligent MyKey set-up, which allows parents of younger drivers to limit the car’s top speed and radio volume, plus make sure that any electronic safety systems cannot be overridden. However, unlike other models in the Fiesta line-up, the ST isn’t available with the option of autonomous emergency braking.

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. 

 

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 a practical load space, and while the rear seats don’t lie fully flat, when they’re folded you get 974 litres. Opt for a space-saver spare wheel and boot space with the seats up decreases to 276 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.

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 added a 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 GTi. 

The Fiesta ST is affordable fun thanks to most consumables being the same as the standard supermini, 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: 9 Jun, 2015
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