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Review: The Ford Fiesta ST is a burbling, gurgling delight of a hot hatch

Ford has nailed it.

Image: Ford Media

FORD HAD A tough job building the successor to one of the best and most lovable fast Fords of all time. The Fiesta is such an important model for the European market that Ford couldn’t mess up with this, the third-gen Ford Fiesta ST.

So, I was a little apprehensive when I first learned that Ford was putting a smaller engine into the new Fiesta ST. Gone is the four-cylinder 1.6-litre unit and in its place is a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine with an industry-first (for a three-pot) cylinder deactivation function.

However, the power output of the three-pot is up on the old model by 18hp to 200hp at 6,000rpm (although the old model could produce up to 200hp for limited periods using an overboost function). Torque is also up by 50Nm to 290Nm at 1,600 to 4,000rpm. So, the new model has more power which is spread out over a wider rev band.

The numbers look good on paper, but what does that translate to out on the road where it really matters for a car like this?

Well, it means that the engine has plenty of performance and will get you from a standstill to 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds (although it feels brisker than this) and it will happily rev up to the redline.

But one of the most pleasing things about this engine is its cracking soundtrack. At first, I was put iff by the Electronic Sound Enhancement (ESE) which artificially augments the engine noise and pipes it through the speakers into the cabin. This can sometimes sound naff but the three-pot sounds marvellous, especially when driven in ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ mode – yes, that’s right, selectable Drive Modes (SDM) have been added to the Fiesta ST for the first time.

The exhaust pops and gurgles with purpose and that purpose seems to be to put a smile on your face as you rev it out to 6,250rpm.

Source: Ford Media

The six-speed manual gearbox is nice and notchy with short throws and feels great in hand and the steering is precise and super quick – just two turns lock to lock. It makes for plenty of fun and a racecar-like feel on twisty turn roads. What also adds to the fun feel is the car’s vice-like grip! The traction coming out of bends is remarkable thanks in part to the optional Quaife limited-slip differential, which means there is no perceptible understeer and controllable levels of lift-off oversteer can be induced.

The sporty suspension is also pitch-perfect. Force-vectoring springs work with traditional dampers giving a firmly-sprung car that is much improved over the previous model. On virtually any road, and with any degree of driver expertise, the Fiesta ST offers feedback, engagement and reward at every turn.

Source: Ford Media

Off the road, and parked in your driveway, the Ford Fiesta ST isn’t going to offend anyone with its looks. It isn’t radical or outrageous. You won’t look like a ‘boy racer’ behind the wheel. However, the ST sporty styling really suits the Fiesta and marks it out in a good way from the regular model.

Available in three or five doors the ST gets remoulded side skirts, a more aggressively profiled front lower airdam, a restyled grille, a roof spoiler, twin-exit exhausts and seriously cool alloy wheels (17-inch as standard or optional 18-inch).

Source: Ford Media

The interior has been taken up a notch too and is much more refined and mature than that of the previous generation. Inside, you’ll find a lovely pair of ST-branded Recaro bucket seats that are positioned just right to give a great driving position. There’s also a flat-bottomed, leather-stitched steering wheel and ST-specific gear knob, skirt and handbrake lever.

As standard, a 6.5-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system is fitted but you can opt for an eight-inch touchscreen instead.

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Source: Ford Media

CO2 emissions are 136g/km making it €280 to tax a year. That cylinder deactivation system – which stops fuel delivery and valve operation for one of the engine’s cylinders in conditions where full capacity is not needed, such as when coasting or cruising – helps with fuel economy which is a claimed 6.0 litres/100km (47.1mpg).

The all-new Fiesta ST comes with plenty of personalisation options and is available in two trim levels, ST-2 and ST-3. ST-2 models are priced from €28,120 and ST-3 models are priced from €30,270.

Overall, Ford has nailed the new Fiesta ST. It is potent, playful, poised and a pleasure to drive. It has a fantastically agile chassis, it sounds sensational and it doesn’t cost a fortune to buy or run.

Fork out for the optional Quaife LSD and you’ll be rewarded with a dynamic powerhouse of a car that will turn even the most mundane journeys into exhilarating ones and put a big smile on your face in the process. Yes, the Ford Fiesta ST is really that good.

The all-new Ford Fiesta ST arrives in Ireland next month.

READ: 5 beautiful scenic drives through the South-West >

READ: Review – The Mitsubishi Outlander is a rugged family motor with a peace-of-mind warranty >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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