Ford Fiesta ST – A proper hot hatch
I am not going to lie, I am a complete sucker for small, fast and agile cars. The usability combined with blistering speed is a recipe too good to keep my hands away from. The market for these kinds of über hatches has exploded, but as the cars get more extreme with over 400 hp, four wheel drive and big wings, you should never forget your roots. Which leads me to the brand new Fiesta ST. It is considered one of the go to cars when you want something small, fast and fun, and Ford has updated it completely. Let’s check it out and see if it’s any good.
The Fiesta was updated not too long ago, which already gave the model a much needed refresh. The ST is hard to tell from the basic model, but there are some signs. Mainly the double tailpipe, ST-badges and some more extra plastic in the front, sides and rear. Other than that, it is almost impossible to distinct the ST from any other new fiesta on the road. But that is not the point of an ST version where most of the changes are under the shell. However, let us not forget that the new Fiesta is one sleek machine. It is simple and straightforward, but in the most basic version (Trend) and the wrong color, it could be mistaken, or rather blend in, with any mainstream car on the road. In the ST however, all of the little extra exterior parts gives the car an exterior it can be proud of.
2018 was a massive year for Ford where almost the entire lineup was renewed. The Focus, which is the Fiesta’s bigger brother shares almost an identical interior, which is not surprising since a lot of car makers do the same. That means that generally the design and quality is up there, and I am happy to say that the Fiesta’s interior is spot on. As with the exterior, the interior is simple where the only buttons that I used frequently were the ones on the steering wheel and in the middle of the center console. Speaking of which, apart from an outdated CD-player (please remove it), the only toggles and switches found here were the ones controlling the AC, and that is how it should be. Everything does not need to be controlled with the screen. Good one there Ford!
An Ipad has been mounted on top of the center console as the infotainment system which unfortunately broke down, pretty hard, but did reboot. SYNC 3, which is the newest system is certainly fast enough and is fairly logical. But after some extensive usage in several models, I have come to the conclusion that it is a bit boring and is in some dire need of a refresh. A quick graphics update or something would have been much appreciated.
I hinted at what was to come from this little pocket rocket, and let me get one thing straight. This is one great driving machine. It is violent, raw and uncanny. The front tires jump like mad to fight for the little traction they have when accelerating and the turbo kicks in like the turbo cars from the 80s and 90s. It might sound frightening, but in reality, it isn’t. The car wants to be driven hard and it feels like it is set up for that type of driving. This means sticky tires and a limited slip diff. All that together with a great chassis and dampers and the ST is as hot as the sun is warm. The ST is a real, real hot hatch, where the feel of going fast is more important than actually going fast.
Fun fact: the rear springs are quite special. They are slightly bent in order to be able to cope with the lateral forces during cornering and helps keep the rear planted.
I drove the Renault Clio RS Trophy (long name I know) not too long ago, and even though it is more powerful than the ST. The Clio RS did not seem nearly as rapid as the ST, which also has a manual. A gift sent from heaven. It is easy to get into a discussion between these cars just because they are arch rivals, but I won’t. The only thing I will say is that after driving the ST, I have had a major rethink at to what driving pleasure and value for money is.
The aggressive set up does however mean that the ST is a bit hard, and even though it is fine to put around in, a forgiving clutch and gearbox is especially to thank for, the rawness and playful nature of the car often shows, and makes the daily commute a bit more extreme than sometimes needed. Not everyone wants to be thrown around like a ragdoll and have to make a billion point turn because of the upgraded front diff.
I was worried that with the change to a three cylinder engine, the ST would not be as hot as it should be. I am glad to report that my initial concerns were completely unnecessary. Ford has made one hell of a fun car, and with a price tag lower than most of its competitors. The bar is reset once again.