2015 Ford Fiesta ST
Ford’s little pocket-rocket is a huge delight.
I took Ford’s Fiesta ST to a local Cars and Coffee event recently and something unexpected took place- amongst a gaggle of Porsche 911’s, AMG tuned Mercedes Benz and Corvettes the little Fiesta garnered a lot of attention. Yes, parked amongst a who’s-who of automotive titans the diminutive Feista ST drew an impressive crowd. You might think that would be because of the can’t-miss Molten Orange paint ($400) with matching trim inside, all topped off with accompanying racing stripes ($495). Extroverted add-ons notwithstanding, the real reason it stole the show is because of what it can do.
Those not familiar with the Fiesta ST should know it starts out life as Ford’s humble but inspiring econobox. We’ve driven the least spicy version powered by a 1.0 litre 3-cylinder, and even that one is a hoot in its own way. For full-on ST duty, Ford Performance adds a bunch of habaneros to the recipe- an ST specific engine, revamped suspension and upgrades inside and out are a comprehensive summary of what happens to the Fiesta when it goes under the knife. When it rolls off the assembly line, it’s suitably beefed up and looks seriously more badass than pedestrian Fiestas.
PROS: Enthralling to drive in any situation, frugal when you want it to be, by far and away the most fun you can have for less than $30K.
CONS: Interior has a few whiffs of cheapness, no backup camera?
THE VERDICT: Ford’s Performance division continues to crank out the hits. We wonder aloud: does the Fiesta ST’s awesomeness render big-brother Focus ST irrelevant?
So how do all those changes turn the Fiesta into what has to be the best performance micro-hatch out there? Let’s look at the drivetrain for a moment. The 1.6 litre turbo four is donated by the midsize Fusion, but it’s puffed up for ST duty. Making 197 horsepower and 214 foot pounds of torque (an overboost delivers even more squirt for about 20 seconds) it couldn’t feel less related to its corporate cousin. It even sounds the part, emitting a soundtrack that’s equal parts turbo whistle and exhaust honk. Ford pipes artificial engine sounds into the cockpit, but this is the most inoffensive version in the automobile kingdom we’ve sampled. It’s mated exclusively to a creamy 6-speed manual gearbox- the only one on offer. Those halfway enthusiasts looking to indulge in the Fiesta ST but don’t care for a third pedal will be out of luck. Select 6th gear when you hit the highway and watch as the revs fall to an acceptable level and the engine’s voice fades appreciably into the background.
Backing up the upgraded urge is a suspension system whose details have been thoughtfully considered. I figured that a car with limits this high would make for a punishing ride, which I’d have gladly accepted as a trade-off for such sharp handling. I was wrong; on all but the sloppiest pavement the Fiesta did feel firm, but almost equally compliant. The real magic presents itself when you grab this little guy by the scruff of the neck and throw it into a corner. It will carve its line with dizzying speed, tons of grip and not a hint of understeer, excellent feel chattering up through the accurate steering rack the whole time. In case you don’t have the mind boggling car control of Ken Block, Ford includes torque vectoring as well as an Electronic Stability Program that knows when to let the fun happen and when to stay out of things. The handling is so sublime that I had to look underneath to confirm that it was a twist beam axle in the rear suspension rather than some trick independent multilink layout.
The sporting theme continues inside- just look at those body colored Recaro buckets. They don’t have quite the unrelenting squeeze of the Focus ST versions, but they will hold you securely in place during even the most spirited manoeuvers. That’s about where the list of special upgrades for ST trim ends- the rest of the interior echo what you’ll find throughout the Fiesta lineup. It’s not that everything doesn’t function perfectly well- the little MyFord touch screen was among the best executions of the maligned interface we’ve sampled- but anyone expecting to choose from the typically exhaustive list of optional features Ford has available will be disappointed. Heck, even a backup camera is absent.
It seems petulant to complain about the lack of doodads anyhow- when you’re wringing this little bugger out along your favourite road, none of that matters one bit. It’s just you and a frisky machine, obeying your every input on the pedals and twitch of the steering wheel with a friskiness that’s getting harder and harder to find these days. It will also do an about face and cruise the highways with composure, sipping fuel the whole way. After spending some seat time with both the Focus and Fiesta in ST guise, it’s hard to choose the harder core, always-on-the-knife-edge Focus versus the still high strung but more evenly tempered Fiesta. Actually, it’s pretty hard to choose any of the Fiesta’s competitors (Fiat 500 Abarth, Mini Cooper S) after driving this little gem. Cars like this don’t come along too often, especially at this price.
2015 Ford Fiesta ST — Specifications
- Price as tested: $28,459
- Body Type: 5-door, 5-passenger hatchback
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 1.6-litre turbo inline-4, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 197 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft) 202 @ 4,200 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight: 1,244 kg (2,742 lbs.)
- Observed fuel economy: 9.2L/100 km (25 US mpg)