It takes very little time behind the wheel of the Fiesta to come to the pleasing conclusion that Ford has remained true to the Fiesta’s long-held position of class-leading driving dynamics. It’s the small things you notice first – the controls all fall to hand perfectly and are well weighted with a precise but light clutch and a brake pedal that doesn’t have an over-servoed feel to it. The ’box swaps cogs sweetly and the EcoBoost engines are eager.
It’s more refined and grown up than it was before, but the best news is that it hasn’t lost its tactility and sharpness in the process. Even when punting around town the Fiesta feels keen, and threading your way in amongst other traffic is child’s play thanks to the well weighted steering and good visibility.
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On the motorway the car’s a better prospect than before with a supple ride, even on the ST-Line models with the sports suspension that sits the car 10mm closer to the ground. Noise suppression is good and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you’re in a car from a class above.
Head off the motorway and onto some decent driving roads and the Fiesta is its same old playful self. The Fiesta really does flow well along a challenging piece of road too. You can tip it into a corner late on the brakes to bring the rear end into play or get your braking over earlier and enjoy the poise and grip as it digs in and powers off up the next straight.
You can take those factors and then multiply them for the ST, which builds upon its predecessor’s talents. It matches super-pointy steering with strong grip, a playful balance and impressive agility, and there’s pretty much the perfect amount of power for a car of this size – as important for romping up straights as it is for pulling the nose straight after an enthusiastically taken turn.
If there’s one caveat, it’s that with a very firm ride, we’ve found the ST can come undone on particularly bumpy back roads, of the kind where a car such as the ST should excel. It’s easy to find individual wheels leaving the tarmac, breaking your rhythm and causing you to back off where a more pliant car would let you keep it pinned. This, thankfully, is solved almost entirely by the ST Performance Edition’s more sophisticated suspension – a rare case of the top model being not only better to drive, but also easier to live with.