The new Ford Fiesta ST is loads of fun to drive, faster than the old model and comes with more high-tech kit but alternatives are easier to live with every day
The Ford Fiesta ST is a feisty little hot hatch with a 200hp petrol engine, an aggressive bodykit and a sporty-looking interior that is designed to tempt you away from the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and VW Polo GTI.
Well, lower yourself into the driver’s seat and the Fiesta gets off to a good start. Every Ford Fiesta ST comes with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone-mirroring as standard. Sadly, the cabin trim doesn’t look quite as funky as the tartan you get in a Polo GTI and the Fiesta’s sports seats grip your thighs a little too tightly to be comfortable – particularly if you don’t have the build of a beanpole.
Sports seats notwithstanding, the new Ford Fiesta ST is more comfortable than the old model. Whether you pick a sporty three-door or a more practical five-door, there’s just about enough space in the back for two adults to sit side by side – though not quite as much as you get in the VW Polo GTI. The ST’s boot is also slightly bigger than in the car it replaces (although you’d struggle to notice) and it’ll happily swallow a week’s worth of shopping.
The Fiesta ST looks like a regular Fiesta that’s put on a tracksuit and hit the gym – it’s beefier in all the right places and much more athletic
You’ll have no such trouble spotting the changes made under the bonnet – out goes the old model’s 182hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, and in comes a a 1.5-litre three-cylinder with 200hp.
And if you’re worried about losing that cylinder, you needn’t. The new model gets from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds (0.2 of seconds quicker than the old ST), but its the accompanying pops and bangs from the exhaust that confirm the Fiesta as one of the most joyous ways you can spend around £20K.
The new engine will also appeal to your head as well as your heart, it can deactivate one cylinder when you’re cruising along to help you save fuel.
More exciting are the new selectable driving modes in the Ford Fiesta ST that let you choose between relaxing and sportier settings for the steering, accelerator and exhaust. Stick it in Track mode and the steering feels heavier, the accelerator more responsive and the exhaust louder. You also get a torque-vectoring system that brakes one of the front wheels automatically to help the Ford Fiesta ST perform tighter turns at speed without sliding – just like in a McLaren supercar.
Even better, however, is the optional £850 performance pack. This comes with launch control to cut a few milliseconds off the ST’s 0-62mph sprint time and a limited slip differential to fire you out of tight corners as quickly as possible.
Even without this pack fitted, the Ford Fiesta ST is a tremendous weekend toy that represents great bang-for-your-buck performance. Only its rather bumpy suspension and sensitive steering might put you off driving it to work every day in a way the VW Polo GTI will not.