After a week with Fiesta ST, the hottest Ford of its baby range, I can’t think of another car that dishes out so many thrills and fun for just $25,990 +(ORC).
It reminds me of a Jack Russell, small, lean, agile, fast and ready to tackle anything. Its chiseled body, front and rear spoilers, black honeycomb grille, a 15mm lower body, dual exhausts and 17-inch alloys on low profile rubber, give it real purpose.
Inside are large analogue gauges, black and grey plastics, (some hard, some soft) sports pedals, chrome highlights, the tiered dash and a small, chunky, multifunction steering wheel. The black and grey cloth Recaro sports seats wrap around you tighter than a mother’s hug. It’s a bit of a squeeze in the back but okay for short trips and with the rear seat folded down it easily carried my bike. Up front, it’s relatively spacious.
From behind the wheel I marvelled at the Fiesta ST’s go-kart liveliness, enjoyed the quick, light and direct steering, its short wheelbase and wide track, the grippy 205/40/17 tyres and the torque vectoring control that gives it such impressive cornering agility. I felt the rigidity of the chassis, and sports suspension and welcomed the strength of the meaty disc brakes. All these features harmonise to make the ST a ‘spine-tingling’ package, especially on the corner-strewn roads I deliberately chose. Little wonder that Ford has chosen the Fiesta as their World Rally Championship contender.
As you’d expect with sports suspension and a taut chassis, the ride isn’t much chop…..well it’s actually quite choppy, and you do get jiggled about on all but billiard table smooth surfaces. The chassis gives you so much feedback, you can almost feel the leaves under your tyres as you drive of them, but in a true sports package, that’s what you want.
The exhilarating handling is matched by a feisty four-cylinder EcoBoost 1.6 litre turbo engine, that barks out 132 kilowatts and 240 newton metres and sends it to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. There’s also an overboost function where, for up to 20 seconds at a time, power and torque are increased to 147kW and 290Nm. Needless to say, that feature got a fair workout.
The engine is a cracker, lively, free-revving, with a chorus of induction and exhaust notes, as the turbo spools up from around 2,500 rpm, where the Fiesta ST really hits its straps all the way to the redline. There’s just a hint of torque steer and front lightness when you tramp your foot, but none under ‘normal’ acceleration, it shoots ahead straight and true. The six-speed gearbox requires nothing more than a flick of the wrist to snick from gear to gear and the pedals are well placed to brake and blip the throttle on downshifts. The Fiesta ST prefers to drink top shelf 98RON fuel, but also happily sips E10 and we averaged 6.8L/100km for the week, which included freeway driving, trawling through the burbs, and highly engaging cross-country blasts through the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula.
But don’t for a moment think the Fiesta ST is a stripped out special. It’s loaded with kit including climate control aircon, proximity (keyless entry), the voice activated Sync2 infotainment system eight speaker audio, Bluetooth (and USB/iPod) connectivity, cruise control, auto-dimming mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a trip computer and loads more.
Being European bred, it has up to the minute safety technologies including driver and passenger airbags, with full cabin curtain bags as well as traction and stability controls and therefore has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
So, if a high performance, sublime handling, good looking versatile hatch is what you want, go and drive the Ford Fiesta ST.
It ticks all the boxes.