The ultimate Fiesta?

Road test: Ford Fiesta ST-2

Production is struggling to keep up with demand for Ford’s pocket rocket, the Fiesta ST. Early reviews were good and it certainly has its fans. We’ve had one on test this week and it has been immense fun. We’ve covered a fair few miles, too, so how does it stack-up as an all-rounder?

The latest ST3 has just been announced at £1,000 above the ST-2’s price (and is packed with more than a grand’s worth of goodies which makes good sense for the buyer). Our ST2 is lacking a few creature comforts in standard specification: no auto lights, rain-sensing wipers or climate control, for example, which the ST3 trim level addresses. We do have grippy Recaro seats, a DAB radio and a starter button, though.

Fiesta on steroids

Aesthetically, the ST is a two-door Fiesta on steroids. Spoilers, skirts, lowered and 17-inch wheels all contribute to quite an aggressive-looking machine. The Molten Orange paint is interesting too; it appears almost a little dull in bright light but when the sun is at a low angle, it sparkles rather splendidly.

Ford’s ST cars are all about driving and the Fiesta has clearly been fettled to maximise the experience. The first obvious feature is the exhaust note which is at its most exhilarating around the 3,000 RPM mark on hard throttle, encouraging early up-changes just to maintain the great sound. Hold on to gears for longer and you’ll find the power is delivered smoothly all the way up to the red line. As the days passed and familiarity with the car increased, it became very clear just how well the ST has been set-up in other respects, too. The gearbox is a delight with well-chosen ratios and the steering is direct and responsive.

Drive and handling

The Fiesta ST’s real trump cards are its drive and handling. The power delivery from the 1.6 turbo-charged EcoBoost engine is smooth, almost immediate and it is an absolute delight to throw into corners. There is minimal torque steer – even in the wet – and it changes direction like one of the bikes in the Tron film (exceptionally well).

So the Fiesta ST is 1980s GTi fun with all the modern technology so it must be the perfect hot hatch. Not quite. Unfortunately, our motorways are not silky-smooth, A-roads are potholed and ridged and many B-roads are literally crumbling. The downside to the Fiesta’s magical handling formulae is that every little imperfection is felt by the driver and passengers which makes longer runs extremely tiresome. I know this because I spent over six hours in it yesterday. It’s not just me. Every time I bring a fizzy drink home in the car, when I unscrew the lid, it squirts everywhere, having been shaken vigorously (and not always because of enthusiastic driving).

The Fiesta ST fully deserves its four stars here and is, quite simply, the best hot hatchback in its class for sheer ability and driver enjoyment. On some of the winding Pennine roads, it could not have delivered greater smiles. We’re holding back the fifth star for the challenging ride which cannot be escaped on the commute or long motorway runs which is a shame because the lesser-specified Fiestas are rather good at covering the miles.

Ford Fiesta ST-2, £18,250. (ST, £17,250; ST-3, £19,250)

Power: 182 PS (@ 5,700 rpm), torque: 290 Nm (@ 1,600 rpm), emissions: 138 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 6.9 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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