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Ford Fiesta ST

Best in class
£10,090£19,360
8/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Goes and grips hard, but cornering is adjustable

Against: 

Steering is a bit short on feel
Big fun to drive thanks to muscly turbo engine and playful chassis. Also a practical daily driver, compact but refined.

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Our choice

Ford

1.6 EcoBoost ST 3dr

£17,360
N/A
48mpg
6.90s
182bhp
138g/km

What we say: 

Wide-mouthed Fiesta gets a gutsy turbo engine and chassis fit for dancing. A hot-hatch bargain, then

What is it?

A re-work of the Fiesta, turning it into a back-road corner-muncher and overtaking hustler. But it’s not uncompromisingly hardcore. When the need arises, it can still be a convenient town car or a stress-free long-hauler.

It starts with the engine, which is the 182bhp 1.6 turbo that’s been available in bigger Fords for a while. For the ST though, it has sharper responses and a switched ‘symposer’ for a bit of roar when you’re giving it the beans.

The suspension is 15mm lower than a regular Fiesta, and stiffened in both the springing and the anti-roll, especially at the back, which quells understeer. The steering is higher-geared, the body is better damped, and it all comes with bigger brakes, wheels and tyres. Wrapping that is a purposeful body kit. Get in and you’ll be clamped by lovely buckety Recaros.

Driving

It feels usefully quick rather than rabid, but that’s because it’s deceptive. Urge is spread right round the dial, with no peaks or troughs. No drama, in other words, just relentless efficiency. But like we said, quick: 182bhp in a Fiesta is plenty, especially when it’s backed up by 214lb ft on overboost. With surprisingly little torque steer and good traction, you really can use it.

Corners are a hoot. It eats bends with no roll and fine precision. Bumps don’t upset it much either. So much for the speed, what about the fun? For a start, it’s set up so understeer is pretty well a foreign land. And it’s remarkably playable, so if you throw it in on a trailing throttle, or do a lift at the apex, it’ll wag its tail. It’s agile and eager.

The only issue is the steering. Sure it’s well weighted, well geared and well damped. But it’s short of feel at the limit. You get what the car’s doing from the seat, not the wheel. The ride’s firm but not harsh or jiggly, and noise levels are reasonably well-contained. Which makes it feel solidly made, and makes it a viable road-tripper.

On the inside

Normal Fiesta stuff . OK front room, average for a supermini behind. A decently made if slightly busy dash. The ST gets great seats, aluminium pedals and a go-faster wheel.

Owning

The ST opens at £17,250, which is well under £100 per horsepower, and includes the Recaros, plus six-speed gearbox, air con, DAB radio, fogs, SYNC connectivity and voice activation. ST2 brings you a Sony ICE, partial leather, LEDs and privacy glass. Economy is wellbehaved on the official measure, but you won’t drive in a wellbehaved way. Still, a day-to-day 35mpg is on. And it’s a Ford innit, so you’re never far from a dealer, or a tuner, or a web-forum of crazed fast Ford enthusiasts.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.6 EcoBoost ST 3dr
6.9s 138g/km 47.9 182 £17,360
The cheapest
1.25 Studio 3dr
16.9s 122g/km 54.3 60 £10,090
The greenest
1.5 TDCi Style ECOnetic 3dr
11.9s 82g/km 88.3 95 £15,040

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

7/10

Vauxhall Corsa

£9,120£20,045
Have hooligan tendencies? Like forking out on front tyres and fuel? Leave ST sophistication behind and for for a Vauxhall Corsa VXR