Our aim is to find cars that are great to drive but also efficient, and there are few cars that can claim to combine these two qualities as well as the Ford Fiesta ST.
We rate the Ford Fiesta 1-litre EcoBoost extremely highly. It’s great to drive, lightweight, and efficient. So what happens when you build on this successful base, add more power and make elements such as the chassis and steering more sporty? Read on to find out…
The Fiesta is the UK’s best selling car, and it has this accolade for a reason – it’s an excellent vehicle. Even the 1-litre EcoBoost model is great to drive, so things are only going to get better when you add a more powerful engine and all the other tweaks that transform it into an ST.
Most elements of the ST’s exterior and the interior are shared with the rest of the Fiesta range, meaning that everything is generally good, with the exception of details such as some fiddly buttons on the centre console.
The ST is powerful, it makes a great noise, it steers, handles and stops well. But the key thing is that it does all this in a small, light, agile package. That’s what makes it fun to drive on the road, and also effective to drive on a circuit such as that at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power: we had the ST during the same week as the Pageant, when we also drove the ST on the circuit – see our separate article.
So the ST is great fun for a cross-country blast, and very useful for quick overtaking of slow vehicles on A and B roads, however the Fiesta still remains easy to live with as a day-to-day car. Okay, the ride may be a bit firm, and it’s certainly not as quiet as a 1-litre EcoBoost, in terms of both engine and road noise, but there are lots of drivers’ cars costing many times the Fiesta’s price tag that are more tiresome to live with as an everyday car.
If we’re being super-critical, our only one real issue with the ST is that it’s front-wheel drive. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s absolutely what you would expect in a hot supermini, but it does mean that you get some torque steer under enthusiastic acceleration, which does slightly corrupt the driving experience on the limit. This is perhaps what you’d expect in a front-wheel drive car with this much power for this sort of money, but if you want more of a pure driving experience then you would probably need to go rear-wheel drive with something like a BMW 1 or 2 Series – probably at a price approaching twice that of the Fiesta.
Just to recap, in case you’re in any doubt, we stand for cars that are great to drive and also efficient. There are very few cars that can claim to be better at combining these two areas than the Fiesta ST. The official combined economy figure of the ST is 47.9mpg. We actually achieved 48.2mpg on a motorway run, showing that it is possible. However you’re probably not going to buy an ST if you’re just going to sit on a motorway at 70mph, you’re more likely to be driving progressively; if this is the case, it will come as no surprise that you won’t be seeing 47.9mpg. The consumption can easily fall to the mid-20’s with this sort of driving. Overall after a week with the ST, we averaged 37.9mpg. This isn’t great, but many cars that offer the fun of the Fiesta would be much worse.
At £18,250, the Fiesta is relatively affordable. It seems that you have to spend at least £20,000 these days to get a decent new car, so to get a car that offers as much all-round fun as the Fiesta for under £20,000 is a good result.
Our test car had two options – ‘molten orange’ metallic paint (£725), and ST Style Pack (including eg. grey 17-inch alloys) (£275).
There’s the ST (£17,250), ST-2 (as tested – features part-leather Recaro seats and an upgraded stereo) (£18,250) and ST-3 (£19,250). All STs have three doors only – you can’t opt for the more practical five door body.
Of course if you like Fiestas but don’t want an ST, then there’s a huge range of petrol and diesel model to choose from – with the 1-litre EcoBoost being our pick.
The Ford Fiesta ST offers a fun driving experience in a car that you could live with everyday, and it also has a relatively affordable price. From our point of view, one of its key benefits is that it’s also efficient. The official combined economy figure is 47.9mpg, which we did achieve on a motorway run. With very careful driving, you could probably manage 50mpg – which is highly impressive for a car that also offers so much fun. However unlike some performance diesels, the economy can easily drop very low if driven hard, and so it’s not quite possible to award the ST a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10, but it comes very close with a 9 out of 10.