site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Ford Fiesta ST-2 1.6 EcoBoost

Click to view picture galleryFords new 139mph Fiesta ST hot
  hatch is ‘out
hardly surprising:
  with a 180bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre
  EcoBoost petrol engine it was
  proving pretty hard to keep in
...


FORD IS EXPECTING TO SELL around 5,000 units of the Fiesta ST in the UK in a full year that's more than half of the 9,000 total annual European production output for the 'hot' three-door Fiesta with its Bridgend-built heart in a Cologne-built body.

Its Welsh-built 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine has a healthy 180bhp output and 177lb ft of torque on tap from 1,600rpm. Better still, during its 15-second 'overboost' acceleration mode these jump to 199bhp and 214lb ft.

The Fiesta ST is available in two trim and equipment specifications with prices of 16,995 for the ST-1 and 17,995 for the ST-2; Ford say that 90% of over 1,000 advance orders have been for the ST-2. The ST-2 spec looks good value with the added kit including an uprated sound system, Recaro sports seats with partial leather trim, heated front seats, push-button start, privacy glass and LED lights. Both versions come with electric windows and mirrors plus AirCon and on-board driver's computer.

“With a need to ‘hear the
speed’, Ford has also included their Sound
Symposer system which
feeds the engine note
into the cabin to ensure
the distinctive engine
roar is an integral part of
the go-faster
driving experience
...”
The new ST has a top speed of 139mph whilst the zero to 62mph dash takes a sharp 6.9 seconds. With 20% more power and 20% fewer CO2 emissions, this ST officially returns a Combined Cycle figure of 47.9mpg. Its 139g/km of CO2 keeps road tax to 125 per year. And company car drivers will get away with only 18% in Benefit-in-Kind tax.

Visually the Fiesta ST is marked out by a large trapezoidal honeycomb grille that's based on the new 2013 Fiesta's Aston Martin-style 'open mouth' look. On ST versions this is flanked by sleek sports-style headlights incorporating LED daytime running lights. At the tail there's an under-bumper honeycomb diffuser similar in design to that used for the Focus ST.

And, of course, there's ST badging in and around the three-door body, Recaro front sports seats and sports pedals. Ford's SYNC communication and emergency assist and MYKEY personal settings with owner pre-set safety parameter functions are available on both specification levels.

With a need to 'hear the speed', Ford has also included their Sound Symposer system which feeds the engine note into the cabin to ensure the distinctive engine roar is an integral part of the go-faster driving experience.

The Fiesta ST is a product of Ford's Team RS who have tuned the powertrain, suspension, steering and braking systems to deliver a performance specification normally only found on larger and more powerful sports models. These 'tweaks' include Ford's Torque Vectoring Control (which reduces torque steer), the latest generation three-mode electronic stability control, a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission and rear disc brakes to 'up' the stopping performance and reduce brake-fade.

The suspension has also been lowered by 15mm to reduce the centre of gravity; the Fiesta ST is also fitted with unique front and rear spring and damper settings and, for good measure, the rear twist-beam axle has increased roll-stiffness.

On paper it all adds up to a thorough performance enhancement and very good value version of the UK's best-selling supermini. The most obvious competitor is the very new three-door Peugeot 208 GTi, also powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine — the French hot hatch has a 200bhp power output and is a little faster even though it officially returns the same Combined Cycle fuel economy and the same CO2 figure as the ST. Although the 208 GTi is a little less agile than the ST, it does offer a better level of ride comfort.

“The very first
impression on getting
under way is just how
firm the suspension is —
really too firm and
uncompromising
for many
...”
Another hot hatch option is the three-door 1.4 VW Polo GTi with 178bhp which costs 19,430 or, sticking with the Blue Oval, buyers could choose the three-door 1.0-litre 123bhp EcoBoost Titanium X Fiesta variant at 16,445, which makes the new 179bhp ST look really good value for money.

The MINI Cooper S and Vauxhall Corsa 1.6 VXR are also competitor models, as too is the soon-to-join the hot hatch segment, the latest RenaultSport Clio.

Once behind the wheel of the ST, I was able to put the new model through its paces on the main roads and winding country lanes in South Wales, and also on track at the compact Llandow racing circuit.

The very first impression on getting under way is just how firm the suspension is — really too firm and uncompromising for many. We know the Fiesta is the best handling supermini on the market, combining as it does sharp responses with an untiring level of ride comfort. And Yes, I expect sports models to give a firmer ride — but not to the very stiff and uncompromising level of the Fiesta ST.

I suspect young 'thrusters' will initially enjoy the surefootedness the newcomer offers but after a while it loses its appeal as rippled road surfaces and broken tarmac give an unsettled and plainly harsh level of ride comfort. Ford really needs to look at the customer profile of those buying hot hatchbacks these days.

Due to the economic climate it isn't, in the main, the previous youthful generation buying these fun cars but slightly older users with more money to spend and, in some cases, currently downsizing from larger and faster sports models.

Another issue for me is the decision of only offering the Fiesta ST as a three-door. Two thirds of supermini hatchbacks sold in the UK and Europe these days are five-door models because they fit today's motoring requirements better; and the ST is no different.

Today's hot hatch has to be a family car as well, so must offer a better combination with room for the family or friends when needed, with better access to the rear seats, while also remaining capable of serving up hardcore performance at other times.

“In terms of traction,
agility and steering
sharpness, the Fiesta ST
is ahead of the field.
Its clever three-mode
electronic stability
control, torque
vectoring control and
slightly quicker steering
ratio
combine to
flatter the driver
...”
Traditionally hot hatches have been three-door cars; but today's market requirements have changed and in the US Ford offer the new Fiesta ST in five-door configuration — so why not here?

We hear about the 'One Ford' latest global model policy on almost every occasion at Ford's media events, so why doesn't this apply to the Fiesta ST?

In terms of traction, agility and steering sharpness, the Fiesta ST is ahead of the field. Its clever three-mode electronic stability control, torque vectoring control and slightly quicker steering ratio combine to flatter the driver.

They make the ST brilliant on-track, even in the damp weather, and impressive on the highway apart from the tiresome reaction from the overly firm suspension on poor road surfaces.

Reasons to buy this ST (if you can live with the extremely harsh ride) include the good looks, well-equipped spec, very competitive pricing, good fuel economy potential, and a strong and responsive engine. It's also fast with terrific performance from the electronically-controlled grip and handling systems. — David Miles


Ford Fiesta ST-2 1.6 EcoBoost | 17,995
Maximum speed: 139mph | 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 38.9mpg
Power: 180bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 138g/km