2018 Ford Fiesta ST review: the complete package

2018 Ford Fiesta ST review: the complete package
2018 Ford Fiesta ST review: the complete package

To say the previous Ford Fiesta ST was a popular car is like saying Elvis quite liked his food or Donald Trump’s a bit of an opinion-splitter. The Mk7 Fiesta was hugely acclaimed by critics and owners alike so the pressure on the Ford Performance development team has been huge.

Ford Fiesta ST-3

Price: £21,495
Engine: 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 198bhp
Torque: 214lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 144mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Economy: 47.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 136g/km

Make the new one anything other than wonderful and there’ll be some very awkward questions asked.

At least they had a strong base to work with. The standard Fiesta is a great little car to chuck around while being a far more mature and better model than the previous one. All the obvious strengths of the regular car such as its much-improved interior have been carried across while for the ST the engineers have been busy at work refining the stuff we don’t see.

The press pack is full of enough jargon to make anyone’s head spin – “force vectoring springs” “torque vectoring control” “RC1 valve technology” – but the bottom line is that this car has been engineered to deliver grip, poise and stability on the most challenging roads without knocking the fillings out of your teeth on scabby urban roads.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST review

And, by God, does it work.

It’s a joyous thing to thread along the road. Our test route featured everything from wide, sweeping curves to 180-degree switchbacks, tight bunches of S bends to arrow straight but bumpy stretches. And the Fiesta ate them all up, flowing from point to point like the car and road were designed for each other. There’s just enough body movement to let you know exactly what’s happening but it grips and grips and goes and goes. The steering (the fastest rack of any Ford Performance car) is weighted just right to allow confident turn-in, the brakes are strong and progressive and even mid-corner bumps can’t unsettle the car’s inherent stability.

Our car was fitted with the Performance Pack, which includes a Quaife limited-slip diff to add extra bite as you accelerate out of corners. The car feels so well set up you wonder if it’s strictly necessary but at just £850 for the pack it’s likely to be ticked by a lot of buyers and it definitely does its job. They’ll also get launch control (handy on the morning commute) and shift lights (just because).

2018 Ford Fiesta ST review

As well as getting busy with the spanners to make sure it handles well, Ford Performance set to work on the drivetrain. The old 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine has made way for a 1.5-litre three-pot – the first of its kind to feature cylinder deactivation technology to aid economy. Matching the last of the Mk7 STs this puts out a round 200PS (198bhp) but has a lot more torque – 214lb/ft v 177lb/ft. The revvy nature of the three-cylinder mated to a good slug of torque makes for a hugely flexible engine. You can wring it right up to the 6,000rpm red line, revelling in a surprisingly appealing engine note as you seek out every gee-gee. Or you can play it lazy and let the torque haul you along.

Either way you’ll make decent progress along your favourite stretch of road, with bags of overtaking grunt. Work it hard and the Fiesta ST will go from a standstill to 62mph in 6.5 seconds – only 0.3 slower than a Focus ST – and on to a top speed of 144mph.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST review

For the first time the Fiesta comes with selectable drive modes that flit from normal to track via sport. Each offers a different engine, exhaust, steering and stability control map to suit driving conditions, with track mode disabling the traction control and setting the stability control system to “wide-slip” mode for hard driving on circuits.

When it reaches showrooms in the summer the Fiesta ST will cost from £18,995. For that the ST-1 trim will offer Ford’s Sync3 system in a 6.5-inch touchscreen, cruise control, lane-keep alert and speed limiter.

Don’t expect to see many of those however, the £19,995 ST-2 and £21,495 ST-3 are expected to take the bulk of the sales. ST-2 adds climate control, heated Recaro sports seats, an eight-inch screen and B&O Play stereo while ST-3 gets 18-inch alloys, red brake calipers, sat nav, auto lights and more driver aid technology.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST interior

Great as all those features are they’re icing on an already delicious cake.

Whatever spec it’s in, the Fiesta ST is a glorious, joyous example of what a hot hatch should be.

A hardcore Clio RS 220 might be quicker round a track but it’ll turn your milk to butter on the drive back from the supermarket. The Suzuki Swift Sport is light, agile and fun but its 138bhp is a bit weedy and rear space is tiny. And the 300+bhp brigade are awesome machines but they all cost north of £30k and their power is almost too much for today’s roads.

The Fiesta ST, on the other hand costs less than £20k can do the shopping run in comfort with the kids in the back and can then set your pulse racing on your favourite stretch of road. It really is the complete package.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST review

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