Ford Fiesta ST-2 1.5T EcoBoost 200PS road test report and review: This car is something of legend in its own lifetime, DAVID HOOPER is a big fan of the Fiesta ST and has been driving the latest version
IN my book, the Ford Fiesta ST is one of the finest hot hatches to grace the motoring scene – its fast, fun, reliable and comparatively cheap to buy and run. It’s the complete package.
Ford have created another little gem and the fact that this latest model to go on sale is the eighth incarnation really speaks for itself. But there’s controversy afoot. This new Mk VIII version has created more discussion and debate among the enthusiasts than previous models because it only has three cylinders! Can a hot hatch with three cylinders really be any good? Will it have enough power? Will it have enough low-end torque? Will it tarnish the driving experience? The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes and absolutely not! But more of that in a moment.
Externally, the new Fiesta ST looks a bit understated with a discreet bodykit, a roof spoiler perched at the top of the tailgate, red ST badges fore and aft, smart alloys which look better in real life than in photos, and red-painted brake callipers.
Inside, the Recaro seats are the first thing to grab your attention, as they do your bum, with their huge side bolsters which certainly hold you in place, but then you start to notice the perforated leather steering wheel with its red ST badge at the bottom of the circle, the large centrally mounted screen which accommodates all the toys you could ask for including the sat nav, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and various apps, but really, the ST itself is the only entertainment you need.
With 200bhp and a 0-62 time of 6.5 seconds, the new Fiesta ST certainly ticks the performance boxes on paper, but what’s it like to drive? One word – brilliant! Ford has mitigated any potential issues of going down the three-cylinder route, and after a while, you don’t even think about it. The turbocharged EcoBoost engine pulls like a train from a standstill right up to the red line in each gear, where an orange ST indicator reminds you to change up before hitting the rev limiter.
Our test car was fitted with the ST Performance Pack which adds launch control, Performance Shift Lights and the Quaife limited slip differential which provides incredible traction on wet and slippery surfaces, off roundabouts, or out of a tight corner. Apply the throttle with a degree of intent and the outside wheel which would normally start to spin is mechanically locked out and drags the car out of the corner with almost unbelievable levels of grip and traction.
The chassis is another Performance Ford masterpiece too. Yes, the ride is firm at low speeds, but it is a hot hatch, and it’s not overly firm in my book and softens up beautifully as you pick up the pace out of town and get the suspension working properly. It turns in accurately, and can be balanced on the throttle, provoking lift-off oversteer which tucks the back end in nicely.
There are three driving modes, Normal, Sport and Racetrack, which progressively remove the electronic stability and safety programs allowing a bit more freedom to “enjoy” the car to its full potential. It also opens up the active exhaust, and allows some addictive popping and banging on the over-run, or as you blip the throttle on the downshift which never fails to spread a big smile across your face. The pedals are nicely placed for heel-and-toeing too.
The steering response has received some criticism – and yes, it is very quick, and if you haven’t driven a sports car for a bit it can take a little while to get used to, but after a short time you get used to it.
So what about the fuel consumption? Driving the ST like a saint, I saw 45mpg average on the trip computer, but that was after a quick drive on my favourite roads which saw the average figure drop to just 20mpg! During my few days with the car, the average settled at around 33mpg overall, but then I did “play” with it most days. I couldn’t help myself. Drive it gently on a run and 36-40mpg will be achievable. The heated seats and heated steering wheel on this model make the daily commute all the more comfortable.
The Fiesta ST line-up starts from £18,995 on the road and there are three trim levels, ST-1 to ST-3. Our mid-range ST-2 costs £19,995 on the road, with the five-door version costing £645 more.
The 2018 Fiesta ST may only have three cylinders, but believe me, it doesn’t detract one iota from the driving experience. It’s a cracking little car, well priced, tremendous fun to drive, and economical enough to be your daily driver.
I have no hesitation in recommending it. Did I want to hand it back? What do you think! There was almost an unseemly scrum when the nice man from Ford came for the keys!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Ford Fiesta ST-2 1.5T EcoBoost 200PS
ENGINE: 1497cc, 200bhp three-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 144mph. 0-62mph in 6.5 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 37.2mpg.
Wheel World test average: 33mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 136g/km.
FUEL TANK: 42 litres.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles
• All data correct at time of publication.