In-depth reviews

Ford Fiesta ST review – super supermini still appeals, especially in Edition trim

A class stalwart, maybe, but the Fiesta ST drives with real enthusiasm, engagement and sophistication

Evo rating
Price
from £19,495
  • Agile and engaging chassis; punchy engine
  • Ride remains very firm when on standard springs and dampers

The new seventh-gen Ford Fiesta ST was launched back in 2017 to a difficult debut. It needed to live up to its (still) brilliant predecessor, with its key rival, Peugeot’s 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport, at full strength and a new three-cylinder engine that had yet to be proven as part of a high-performance powertrain.

Yet Ford’s belief in the ST was vindicated quickly because it delivered big time, taking the ST package to a higher plane than ever before – in outright capability as much as driver enjoyment. The year 2021, though, is a very different place, as while the Peugeot’s long gone, its rivals have become a lot more serious, and this time they’re from Japan and Korea.

> 2022 hot hatchback battle: superminis

To compete in this reformed supermini class, Ford’s gentle restructure of the ST line-up in the UK has seen the end of the price-leading ST-1 base car, and a new focus on high-end derivatives such as the Edition model that stretches to over £27,000. These new price points have upped our expectations, but then the ST has never been more capable and entertaining, especially in top-spec Edition form.

Ford Fiesta ST in detail

  • Engine, transmission and technical details – Three cylinders, 1.5 litres and a turbocharger – all fixed to a six-speed manual gearbox
  • Performance and 0-60 time – 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
  • Ride and handling – Sharp steering and great body control give the ST real agility. Edition models are transformed with new coilovers
  • MPG and running costs – Running costs shouldn’t be too high, but keep an eye on those Michelin Pilot Sport 4 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

Prices, specs and rivals

Despite losing the base-level ST-1, all Fiesta STs remain a decent value proposition, starting at £21,955 for the ST-2. Five-door versions cost an extra £400, and are expected to account for around a quarter of ST sales. The model itself will make up about a tenth of all Ford Fiesta sales in the UK.

Standard equipment is good, with ST-2s wearing a 17-inch wheel design (with 18-inch optional), LED headlights and a fantastic set of Recaro seats. ST-3 models upgrade to 18-inch wheels, a higher-grade B&O Play sound system, a TFT screen ahead of the driver, parking camera, climate control and keyless start and entry.

> Best hot hatches

The £24,580 ST-3 also comes as standard with the Performance Pack, which bundles a Quaife limited-slip differential, launch control and shift lights in the instrument cluster. The same package is also available optionally on lesser ST-2 models for an extra £950.

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

Most of the ST’s European rivals have retreated (for now), with Peugeot and Renault ruminating on all-electric hot hatchbacks of the future, but in the here and now there are new threats from Japan and Korea that have taken the notion of a supermini hot hatch and turned the volume right up.

First is Hyundai’s very impressive new i20 N, a model that matches the larger i30 N’s focus and capability, but miniaturises the package to create something even more exuberant. At £24,995, the single-specification i20 is priced more than the equivalent ST (just) but comes with far more kit.

Higher up the spectrum is the Toyota GR Yaris at £30,020. While that’s a big jump in price, it feels worth every extra penny thanks to the GR’s bespoke engine, chassis, body and all-wheel-drive system. The result is profound, and along a slicked British B-road we can’t think of many modern performance cars of any price or performance level that could keep up with one.

The last VW Polo GTI was a long way off the Fiesta in terms of fun and capability. It has just been given an update, and while it may well have the same 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine as its bigger brother the Golf GTI, it’s not as fun. You could go smaller of course, with the Up GTI coming in at £16,780, or Suzuki’s updated mild-hybrid Swift Sport starting at £20,570. The Up is excellent value for such a desirable car and it’s amusing to drive too, but lacks the outright ability of the Ford. The Suzuki has split the evo team’s opinion, and the unfavourable exchange rate from Japan has hobbled pricing somewhat, but all of us agree that the Fiesta is again the better hot hatch.

Used and nearly new Ford Fiesta ST Mk8 models

The seventh generation of Fiesta ST took over the mantle from its predecessor of being one of the most entertaining supermini hot hatches, and despite losing a cylinder and 99cc it’s still a hugely rewarding machine to drive, turning even mundane journeys into an event. Performance is strong – 0-62mph takes just 6.5sec and it’ll power on to 144mph – yet it has relatively palatable running costs.

So far reliability seems to be good, but the bad news for the used buyer is that it’s a car in demand that depreciates relatively slowly, meaning that bargains are few and far between. The ST-1 is rare and has less equipment than the ST-2 and ST-3 and the latter model represents the best value for money with its additional kit fitted as standard. Look for models with the Performance Pack which have a Quaife limited-slip differential.

Ford Fiesta ST Mk8 history

The seventh-generation ST was revealed in 2017 before going on sale in the UK in 2018. The range featured three models, ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3, with the ‘1’ being the base model and the ‘3’ being packed with options. There have been two special editions which were produced in limited numbers – the Performance Edition in 2019 and the Edition in 2020. Both had unique trim, colours and adjustable coilover suspension set-ups. A minor facelift occurred in 2021 but power and torque remained the same as for the launch models.

Used Ford Fiesta ST (Mk6, 2013-2017, Mk5 2004-2008)

The Mk6 Fiesta ST launched in 2013 with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that was good for 197bhp and 214lb ft of torque, and its performance was spot on, with an eager power delivery that positively egged you on to explore the chassis’s prowess. It was a hoot to drive quickly and soon became a favourite among hot hatch aficionados who could forgive it its slightly dated interior and perhaps less than class-leading build quality.

The first generation of ST was based on the Mk5 Fiesta and was introduced in 2004. It featured a 2-litre Duratec four-cylinder engine that was good for 148bhp and 140lb ft of torque, giving a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.9sec and a 129mph top speed. It faced stiff competition from the likes of the Mini Cooper S and Renault Sport Clio 182 Cup, and while it was competitively priced it wasn’t quite as much of a blast to drive as its competitors.

> 2022 hot hatchback battle: the final

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