The verdict is in. At the recent Autocar Awards, we named the new Ford Fiesta ST as Britain’s Best Affordable Driver’s Car. It’s a car that we’ve loved since we first got our hands on it – giving it a 4.5-star review, and then spending four enjoyable months with it on our long-term test fleet.
The Fiesta ST earned its Autocar Award by beating some of the finest performance cars that cost under £30,000 in a multi-car shoot-out – proving itself to be just as much fun on the road as it is on the track, without ever losing the refinement and practicality that make it a hatchback you can use every day.
Here are Autocar’s deputy editor James Attwood and deputy digital editor Tom Morgan to tell you how the Fiesta ST outperformed its rivals.
To learn more about the Ford Fiesta ST, head to ford.co.uk/fiesta-st
Delivering where it counts
The new Ford Fiesta ST’s performance credentials start where it matters: under the skin. Every element has been designed to make driving more fun and engaging – flattering novices and rewarding expert drivers, without compromising the refinement and everyday versatility you expect from one of Britain’s most popular small cars.
The compact, lightweight three-cylinder aluminium 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine – which uses a six-speed manual gearbox – blends twin-independent variable cam timing with power fuel injection and direct fuel injection, while a new turbocharger design builds boost pressure faster to minimise lag and ensure that the new Fiesta ST’s smaller engine delivers high torque from the off.
An integrated exhaust manifold also helps deliver torque more rapidly by minimising the distance exhaust gases travel between the cylinders and the turbochargers. The result: 200PS and 290Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 144mph.
The Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre engine isn’t just powerful, it’s also efficient. Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation for a three-cylinder engine improves fuel economy at low revs, re-engaging within 14 milliseconds – 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – to deliver full performance on demand.
And – as you’d expect from a Ford Performance hot hatch – when you do open the throttle, the Fiesta ST’s active exhaust technology delivers the full orchestra of throaty pops and bangs to bolster your driving soundtrack.
Clever suspension tech
The Fiesta ST also has the creds that count when it comes to cornering, with a chassis that has been designed to be stable, agile and responsive in equal measure – whether the road ahead offers a perfect sunny drive or winter rain.
The Fiesta ST is the first compact hot hatch to use Ford’s patented force vectoring springs on its twist-beam rear suspension, with the technology honed specifically for the Fiesta ST. This pioneering system improves vertical and lateral stiffness simultaneously, and works with frequency-dependent damping to ensure sharper steering response, without any compromise on comfort, ride or refinement
Ford’s enhanced Torque Vectoring Control system reduces understeer by applying subtle braking to the inside front wheel while cornering, while an optional Quaife limited-slip differential in the optional ‘Performance Pack’ reduces wheel slip under power – the greater grip and traction enhancing power delivery and improved confidence on corner exit.
A three-mode electronic stability control (ESC) and three selectable drive modes – Normal, Sport and Track – let Fiesta ST drivers pick the level of laid-back refinement or tightly-wound full-throttle performance that they want on their drive, while the optional track-specific ‘Launch Control’ function enhances fast-standing starts.
A premium interior
Just because the Fiesta ST drives like a scaled-down supercar doesn’t mean that Ford has skimped on the spec list. Available in three and five-door body styles, as either ST-2 or ST-3 with 17-inch or 18-inch wheels, stylish ST badges and trim elements, and a range of distinctive colours – all of which add a sporty complement to the Fiesta ST’s natural stylish looks.
Inside, the Fiesta ST bolsters the Fiesta’s modern premium interior with bold performance touches, adding comfortable and supportive Recaro seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with stylish stitching that is also reflected on the leather handbrake lever and the ST gearbox gaiter. Fiesta ST drivers can also choose from a range of customisable trim elements, or add a fully openable panoramic sunroof.
Music, navigation and comms gets an upgrade with the 8-inch SYNC3 touchscreen that also allows hands-free smartphone control through voice commands, while the optional B&O PLAY sound system offers an even more high-end audio experience.
Driver assistance and safety technology that comes as standard includes Lane Keeping Alert and Lane Keeping Aid, as well as cruise control with speed limiter and automatic headlights, while you can choose to add auto high-beam and Traffic Sign Recognition.
“Hot hatch fans are expecting big things from the Fiesta ST,” says Leo Roeks, Ford Performance director, Europe. “We’ve applied what we’ve learned from recent Ford Performance models, including the Focus RS and Ford GT, to develop an all-new Fiesta ST that sets a new standard for its sector.”
Judging by the fact that we’ve named it Britain’s Best Affordable Driver’s Car, it looks like the Fiesta ST has done just that.