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STrictly Fun: Ford Fiesta ST Is a Feisty Speedster PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard / Creative Syndicate   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 21:51

Photo Credit Creative Syndicate

The 197-hp, Fiesta ST is built only as a five-door hatchback with a six-speed manual transmission.

The Ford Fiesta ST is a party to go. And you'll go quickly, smiling, squirming and looking for excuses to romp and rip through the gears.

This is Ford's power treatment for the subcompact Fiesta, built only as a five-door hatchback with a six-speed manual transmission. There's also the larger Focus ST, but it just doesn't have the same snark or bite.

The Fiesta ST is a global transplant with development from Ford's Team RS in Europe and Special Vehicle Team in the United States.

Based on a well-equipped Fiesta, the teams added a high-out turbocharger to the 1.6-liter, direct-injection fourcylinder and came out with 197 horsepower. That compares to 120 horsepower for the standard Fiesta. The six-speed transmission (from the Fusion) is a huge improvement over the coarse five-speed Fiesta gearbox. The clutch is light and gear changes have ballbearing smoothness, which slot more or less without confusion. Downshifts can be dicey when in a rush.

The body sits about a half inch lower than stock with a stiffened suspension and a quicker steering response. With a rowdy 202 foot-pounds of torque going to the front wheels, torque steer could be all over the place, but full-on acceleration is balanced as the tires struggle not to spin.

A three-mode electronic stability control -- standard, sport or off -- lets the driver decide the amount of electronic intervention. Standard mode was plenty fun for me, but "off" would be desirable for autocrossing.

With a curb weight of 2,742 pounds, the ST seems to scoot faster than its estimated 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds. The torque peaks at a very usable 4,200 rpm. Once you're out of first gear there is good revving range in second and third for getting around town. At 2,500 rpm in sixth gear at 65 mph the engine is not noisy, and there's plenty of pull without having to downshift to keep pace with the Interstate flow.

A hill-holder calms the concern of clutch engagement by briefly holding the brakes. The four-wheel disc brakes get performance pads for the 10.95- inch vented front rotors and 9.96-inch solid rear discs. These are a track-ready improvement over the stock 10.2-inch front discs and rear drums.

The ST also gets a sound symposer, which pipes a blatty exhaust tone into the cabin, but only on harder acceleration. When driving the kids to school it can be quietly controlled.

The styling has plenty of street swagger with a chin spoiler and blacked-out honeycomb grille and 17-inch wheels with performance rubber. The rear has a diffuser and deeper fascia with a high-mount spoiler.

Pricing starts at $22,195, including $795 freight charge from Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico. With options, the test car was $24,895. Standard equipment includes leather-trimmed seats and shift knob, power moonroof, LED parking lights, full-size spare tire, sport pedals, floor mats, Sony audio system, pushbutton ignition and keyless locking and seven air bags.

Among the extras was the Recaro package, $1,995, which includes heated front seats and heated side mirrors. The Recaro seats are race-ready with extreme bolsters at the seat bottom and sides. But they are also dumb because there are no cutouts in the seats to fit a fivepoint race harness. So what's the message? Recaro seats for the look of racing?

Front headroom of 39.2 inches with 42.2 inches of legroom admits a range of taller drivers. I'd like telescopic adjustment to the tilt steering column.

Every few years one of these sporty party cars comes along and leaves enthusiasts wanting more. It was more than a decade ago that Ford created the SVT Focus, a three-door hatch, which is still on my recommended list. And at about the same time there was the Dodge Neon SRT- 4. And today there is the Fiat 500 Abarth, the VW GTI and more expensive Mazdaspeed3.

$25,000 may seem big for a subcompact, but drive it. The Fiesta ST is feisty fun.

Mark Maynard is online at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Find photo galleries and more news at

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 23:28