Ford Fiesta ST

Fun to drive and the fastest of the bunch, but is the Fiesta showing its age?

  • Super-sharp steering, agile through corners, communicative chassis, strong performance from powerful engine, practical cabin
  • Firm ride, only two airbags as standard, some cheap cabin materials, short on motorway refinement, dated interior design

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?

Details

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.

Economy

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.

Residuals

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.

Servicing

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.

Tax

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.

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