Ford Fiesta ST review – still the class leader?

Antony Ingram
13 Jul 2018

Doesn’t quite have its predecessor’s spark, but the new Fiesta ST is still a hugely entertaining class leader

Evo Rating: 
Agile and engaging chassis, punchy engine, improved cabin
Ride remains very firm, not the raw thriller of its predecessor

Ford’s latest Fiesta ST has big boots to fill. The old ST was one of the best performance cars Ford has ever made – a car capable of fighting right at the top of its class in terms of performance and driving fun, and excellent value for money, too, with entry-level models undercutting most rivals by thousands.

On paper the new model does the same, with a tempting starting price of £18,995 and performance figures that beat the top ST200 version of the old car. The new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine matches the old car’s output without resorting to an overboost function and the ST still offers three- and five-door formats (an increasingly rare attribute in modern hatches) and a six-speed manual gearbox.

But the best news is that the new ST doesn’t just look good on paper. While it’s lost a little of the old car’s raw character and feels a little bigger on the road – an unavoidable side-effect of the car being more liveable – it’s still a riot to drive, from the ultra-quick steering to an engaging drivetrain and effervescent character.

Ford Fiesta ST in detail

Performance and 0-60 – Quicker than the old car and up at the sharp end for the class, with a 6.5sec 0-62mph time and 144mph top speed. We prefer the old engine’s character, but the new three still impresses.

Engine and gearbox – Three cylinders, 1.5-litres and a turbocharger – all fixed to a six-speed manual gearbox. Engine uses cylinder-deactivation tech for better economy.

Ride and handling – Still one of the best small hot hatchbacks. Sharp steering and great body control give the ST real agility.

MPG and running costs – No more frugal than its predecessor on paper or on the road. Running costs shouldn’t be too high, but keep an eye on those Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

Interior and tech – A big improvement over the old car. Grippy Recaro seats are welcome, improved dash and infotainment set-up even more so.

Design – Three- and five-door options, with just enough aggression to mark it out as a performance model. Looks better at the front than the back.

Prices, specs and rivals

The Fiesta remains a decent value proposition, though ultimately few will go for the basic £18,995 ST-1 model. Just one per cent, according to Ford’s figures, with 28 per cent opting instead for the £19,995 ST-2 and a full 71 per cent will opt for the £21,495 ST-3. Five-door versions – available on the ST-2 and ST-3 – cost an extra £600, and are expected to account for around a quarter of ST sales. The model itself will account for around a tenth of all Ford Fiesta sales in the UK.

ST-1 models get 17-inch wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, air conditioning, keyless start, cruise control, Recaro seats, halogen headlights and selectable driving modes. ST-2s wear a slightly flashier 17-inch wheel design (with 18-inch optional), with climate control, heated seats, privacy glass, and a larger 8-inch touchscreen, while ST-3 upgrades to 18-inch wheels, navigation, a TFT screen ahead of the driver, a parking camera, leather trim and a heated steering wheel.

> Best hot hatches

To this you can then add various option packages. Most popular by a hair will be the performance pack, with a fifth of buyers spending an extra £850 (on ST-2 and ST-3 only) to get a Quaife limited-slip differential, launch control and shift lights. B&O Play audio is £350 and LED headlamps (ST-2 and ST-3 only) are £600. Most ST buyers will also go for the car’s signature Performance Blue paintwork – a £745 option.

It’s feasible then that many customers will spend over £24,000 on their STs rather than the headline £18,995, but that’s still in the same ballpark as the relatively few remaining rivals in this class – the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport has recently gone off sale pending emissions upgrades but cost £23,550 when it was on sale.

The current Renault Sport Clio 200 isn’t our favourite hot hatch, but at £20,300 it offers similar performance to the Fiesta (albeit through an auto ’box) for a similar price to the lower-spec STs, while the 220 Trophy is a better effort (though still not as good as it should be…) for £23,000. The Fiesta is currently the class leader, but unfortunately that’s as much down to a lack of competition as it is any inherent talent.

> For an in-depth review of the , check out our sister site 

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