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Living with a Ford Fiesta ST: part 1
It’s a TG award winner, but what is the small and mighty Fiesta ST like to live with?
Having claimed our coveted Top Gear magazine Car of the Year award, the Ford Fiesta ST has fallen straight out of the after-party and into the Top Gear Garage.
When we first got wind of the ST, we had our reservations. But then we drove it. Initially, we were cynical about the move to lop off a cylinder… we were wrong. We were worried about them fattening it up by force-feeding tech down its throat… we shouldn’t have been. See, over the last year, the little hot hatch has impressed us time and time again. It’s breezed a 1,700-mile road trip around Britain, seen off the likes of Porsche and Ferrari at our Performance Car of the Year and earned Chris Harris’s seal of approval. But now it’s got its biggest test yet: living with us rabble for six months.
Snotty kids, airport runs, freezing winters, the occasional track day and many B-road thrashes – EA68 CZX is going to have to deal with them all.
Specced in the priciest ST-3 trim, then loaded with extras – a Quaife diff (£850), LED lights (£600), posh blue paint (£745), blind spot monitoring (£350) and a better sound system (£350) – this tiddly hot hatch comes in at just under £25k. Yep, £25k. Are your eyes smarting? Mine are.
But it’s a clever hot hatch with proper grown-up tech, like torque vectoring and trick frequency dependent suspension. And even being one cylinder and 100cc down from the last gen (but making 197bhp and 214lb ft) the ST has already proved that less is more.
Just a few weeks into our six-month tenure with the ST, it’s already abundantly clear that we got it right when we gave it our Car of the Year award. The ST represents the kind of thinking we believe should be celebrated: delivering efficiency, but never at the cost of engagement or enjoyment.
And it all starts with the engine. On every journey, the 1.5-litre turboed triple works its little heart out, constantly accompanying proceedings with a sound so full of character and soul it’s utterly addictive. Quiet and efficient on the motorway cruise, but unburstably strong and desperate to charge to its red line when stretched on your favourite B-road, it’s a work of genius. Even my lead-footed antics deliver an mpg in the high 30s, and the characterful engine is punchy enough to keep supercars honest on a twisty road. Then add to the equation the fact that it’s light and compact – reducing weight over the front axle – and the result is a fundamental improvement in ride and handling over the old one.
Talking of which, the ST soaks up the worst of the varied road surface on the Editor’s 120-mile roadtrip of a commute with subtle, if solid, poise. Fire it down your favourite road and the poise and balance, which has long been a central part of the ST’s DNA, comes to the fore. The clever suspension works its magic and makes the ST one of the most engaging and capable little pocket rockets in history. A genuine real-world hero. Now it just needs to keep it up.