Ford Fiesta ST
Fun to drive and the fastest of the bunch, but is the Fiesta showing its age?
After several ‘warm’ Fiestas, the ST marked a return to a genuine performance model in the spirit of the classic XR2i. The entire line-up was mildly updated earlier this year, and the ST gets the same large bug-eyed lights as the rest of the range. The lamps don’t enhance the visual appeal, but sporty details such as the mesh grille, lowered stance and thicker side sills ensure the car still looks the part.
Inside, the upper section of the dash now uses soft-touch materials, but the cabin remains dated and some of the plastics in less prominent places feel cheap. The big-button stereo is easy to use, though, and while there’s no steering reach adjustment or an off-clutch footrest, the driving environment, while basic, is still comfortable.
There’s less rear legroom than in the Swift, but the Fiesta is the only car to have three back seatbelts and the boot is the biggest here. However, it’s the driving experience that counts – and the Ford doesn’t disappoint. With sharp steering and a lively chassis, the ST raises a smile on twisty roads.
Offering the best front-end grip and most communicative steering, the ST is agile and fun. There is some kickback through the wheel on rough surfaces and the stiff suspension set-up means the ride isn’t as supple as the MINI’s. Few rivals can match it for entertainment, however, and despite its bigger power output, traction is impressive. It’s quick, too, covering 0-60mph in 8.3 seconds.
But the engine needs to worked hard and it’s noisy towards the 7,000rpm red line, which means motorways soon become tiring. The ST scores on its fun factor, though. Is that enough to help it win?
Price: £13,595 NOWModel tested: Ford Fiesta ST 2.0-Litre/ 148BbhpChart position: 3WHY: In this company, the Ford is the most expensive option – but it justifies its price with a 2.0-litre engine and 148bhp output. Sporty detailing helps distinguish the ST from lesser Fiestas, and it benefits from the same tweaks introduced across the range as part of a mid-life facelift earlier this year.
We weren’t expecting anything special in terms of economy from the Fiesta, given its larger capacity and higher power output in this company. Ford quotes an official combined figure of 38.2mpg, and we returned 25.5mpg – either way, the ST is going to be the least frugal option of our trio.
Over the course of three years and 36,000 miles, the Fiesta ST is predicted to retain 48.6 per cent of its price when new. This means the car would be worth £6,607 at the end of the period. Although that’s not a bad performance, it’s likely to trail the MINI by a long way.
You won’t have to travel far to your nearest Ford garage – there are 714 in the UK. Our quotes suggested the first two checks cost £125 each, with the third priced £203. The 12,500-mile intervals mean the Fiesta will also travel further before it needs attention.
Thanks to its larger engine, you would expect the Ford to have the filthiest emissions. It does, but only by 4g/km over the Suzuki – and so it sits in the same tax bracket. However, thanks to its higher price it will be the most expensive fleet option, costing higher earners £1,196 annually.
In this review
- 1IntroductionCan MINI’s all-new Cooper lay down the law in its first test? We pitch the top-seller against Suzuki and Ford hot hatch rivals
- 21st MINI Cooper 1.6 litreHow does the stock MINI Cooper, launched at the same time as the Cooper S, perform against the opposition?
- 32nd Suzuki Swift Sport 1.6-litreThe Suzuki Swift Sport's great to drive and good value, being the cheapest of the trio featured here
- 43rd Ford Fiesta ST - currently readingFun to drive and the fastest of the bunch, but is the Fiesta showing its age?
- 5Facts and figures