Ford has always pleased the European markets with a wide variety of compact vehicles, especially those packed with some punch. The Ford Fiesta ST (for Sport Technologies) made its European launch a couple of years ago, and in 2014, North Americans were finally able to purchase this pocket-sized street racer.I had one full week in a Molten Orange, fully loaded ST and let me tell you, this sport compact will provide thrills similar to a world-class roller coaster.
On the outside, the 2014 Fiesta ST looks like a down-sized version of the Focus ST, almost as if it had been washed, thrown into a hot dryer, and then hung out to dry. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great looking 5-door. The Fiesta and Fiesta ST share the same natural body shape, but the ST adds some great racing inspired modifications and badging that make this car look aggressive. Up front, the front fascia is low and aggressive, complete with a gloss black honeycomb mesh grille. The fog lights are set wide on the outer edges and are pretty functional. The side skirts are low and carry the flow of the front lines nicely. At the rear, there is a colour-matched low diffuser, dual exhausts, and a massive rear spoiler that extends straight off the sloping roofline. Compared to the regular Fiesta, the ST sits 15 mm lower, enhancing the racing style and ability of the car. The 17” low profile tire and wheel package keep the ST firmly planted on the road.
On the inside, the ST theme is carried throughout, most notably on the sport-heated Recaro seats. This standard factory upgrade provides exceptional comfort and support, even though only for the front passengers. The rear passengers are left to bounce around when you throw this car into corners. Our fully-loaded tester came complete with push button start, navigation, Sirius radio, sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, rear view camera, etc. etc. etc. A few years ago, Ford’s affiliation with Microsoft gave rise to the new Sync with MyFord Touch media system. Even though the multimedia screen is somewhat small, it’s easy to use; however, at times, I didn’t quite hit the top menu buttons exactly where I wanted. The Sync system works surprisingly well; voice commands were spot on and there were very few, if any, errors in voice recognition. Front room is quite good and there is adequate room for rear passengers. Remember, this is a compact sports car and not a luxury full size.
So, one may ask, what makes the Fiesta ST so desirable? Well, simple. This car has the same power-to-weight ratio as a first generation M3 and a current Mini Cooper S. That’s right…a BMW M3 and Cooper S. If that’s not enough to impressive you right now, then keep reading.
Under the hood, the Fiesta packs a nifty little direct-injected Ecoboost 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like much, until you consider that the car itself only weighs about 2742 lbs. Match these two factors with the 6-speed manual gearbox (no automatic available) and you’ve got quite the rocket here. Producing 214 lb-ft of maximum torque, my Molten Orange ST screamed to 100 km/h in about 6.9 seconds, which is pretty darn close to Ford’s rating of 6.7 seconds. The max turbo boost, with almost no lag, is programmed to last 20 seconds, after which pressure is cut. Unless you’re trying to escape from the men in blue or doing an extended track race, this should be ample. What I also really appreciated was that power was available almost instantaneously, even at about 1300 rpm.
The drive of the 2014 ST was exactly what I wanted it to be – comfortable, but peppy and absolutely exhilarating. Even though the ST would handle its own on a track, it is comfortable enough to drive on a daily basis. That being said, my younger 5-year old daughter did say it was a little bumpy. Steering is light but very responsive, thanks to the 13.6:1 steering ratio – in fact, other reviewers have compared the handling and steering of this Ford to high end sports cars, and I would whole-heartedly agree. In the city, this car is absolute breeze to manoeuver and park, with even the “smaller car only” spots looking oversized. For a small car, most major controls are also placed very well, so they aren’t overly crowded or bunched together. City driving…check.
On a weekend, a friend and I decided to take the ST through some windy roads in Langley, you know, just to informally test the “trackness” of the car. We booted around some quiet serpentine roads and this is where the ST really shines. The 6-speed was quick to shift, thanks to the short throw shifter, and the clutch up being almost perfect. The first gear is fast, but 2nd and 3rd gears is where you really feel the boost kick in, especially when mixed with the throaty sound of the exhaust. To stop the car, the brakes worked extremely well, and the bright red-painted calipers looked nice. At the end, we felt like teenagers in a high-powered go-cart; yes, it was a blast to drive. One thing to note here is that my friend, who is 6’2” and weighs about 215 lbs. said that the Recaro seats were not very comfortable for him; thus, they may not be ideal for larger and/or taller front occupants.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is a welcome addition to the North American market and will be a great contender in the sport compact segment. The base price is $22, 638, but with the packages I had on my tester, the final price was close to $27, 000. This may sound like a lot for a compact sports car, but prepare to shell out quite a bit more for equivalent “competing” European models, which will not even be fully loaded.