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Ford Fiesta ST: Underdog? No, Top Dog

Why the all-new, giant-killing Fiesta ST was crowned TG mag's Car of the Year 2018

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The shortlist for Top Gear magazine’s Car of the Year 2018 included all sorts of creations, from lottery-win supercars to tyre-smoking hot rods. Yet of all the cars that could have won the top prize, the ultimate victor wasn’t the most powerful, nor the most expensive, but a humble hot hatch that had everybody fighting over the keys. It was of course the all-new Ford Fiesta ST. But what is it about this 197bhp daily driver that the judges loved so much? Let’s look at the evidence…

It fills some very big boots

The previous Fiesta ST was a smash hit, not just with anyone who ever drove it down a British B-road, but with the critics too. Its predecessor won Top Gear’s Car of the Year back in 2013. Some people doubted it could be bettered, until this new one came along. Like before it uses the tried-and-tested hot hatch formula, but adds a 21st century twist with tech such as selectable drive modes – Normal, Sport and Track – each of which modifies the car’s character for the job in hand, whether it’s a steady motorway cruise or a hot lap.

Hot hatches have a hard job

On one hand they must be easy to live with: practical enough for daily chores and relaxing enough for long journeys. On the other hand, they should make every drive a joy: turning on the performance at a moment’s notice and putting a smile on your face whenever the road opens up. And sure enough the Fiesta ST gives you the best of both worlds, from the Quickclear windscreen for rapid defrosting, to the launch control function for rapid getaways. Plus there are supportive RECARO seats that keep you comfy in traffic while holding you tight through corners.

Less is more

The all-new ST is powered by Ford’s 1.5-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which can actually run on just two cylinders to save fuel when you don’t need its full performance. But don’t be fooled. Because despite the economy stats, this is a proper hot hatch, with 197bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds. In the real world that’s enough to scare a supercar down a country road. You can even shift up without lifting off the throttle, just like you would in a racing car, so you don’t lose momentum, even for a split-second.

It loves corners

With just two turns from lock-to-lock, giving it the quickest steering of any Ford performance car, the ST can’t wait to dive into a corner. And when it does, clever force vectoring springs – patented by Ford for the ST, and never used before on a car like this – keep things stable by getting stiffer the quicker you go, before relaxing again when you slow down for increased comfort. Of course, half the fun of corners is leaving them behind, a job made easier with the ST’s optional mechanical limited-slip differential, to maximise traction and minimise wheelspin.

Everyone loves a fast Fiesta

Fast Fiestas have brought power to the people since way back in the early 1980s. Seven generations and almost four decades later, the technology may have changed but the appeal remains the same. A fast Fiesta is an everyday hero, a genuine giant killer capable of embarrassing cars costing three times as much. The lesson? Never underestimate a hot hatch. Especially if there’s an ST badge on the back…

To find out more, search Fiesta ST

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