Review: Ford Fiesta ST (MK8)

Introduction

The Ford Fiesta ST (MK8) launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, is the latest B-Segment hot hatch developed by Ford Performance, available in both 3-door and 5-door versions although only the 5-door will be offered in Australia.

Unlike its four-cylinder predecessor, the new ST is fitted with a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5 liter Ecoboost engine, producing 147 kW (200 hp) of power and 290 Nm of torque. Power is transmitted to the front wheels exclusively through a 6-speed manual transmission, with the help of a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential (optional in Europe). According to Ford, the car can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds while top speed is 232 km/h.

The Fiesta ST has a lot of features for a supermini – Selectable Driving Modes (Normal, Sport or Track) allows the configuration of the engine, steering and stability control according to your preference, Launch Control lets you get the best acceleration from a standing start and Electronic Sound Enhancement enhance the active exhaust’s noise inside the cabin. The suspension has a sporty setup with MacPherson struts with Tenneco twin-tube RC1 dampers at the front axle and patented force vectoring springs at the rear axle which improve the stability, agility, and responsiveness.

The biggest rivals of the Ford Fiesta ST are the Volkswagen Polo GTI, the Renault Clio RS and the Peugeot 208 GTi although the French duo is getting a new generation soon. Check out our spec comparison between the Ford Fiesta ST and the Volkswagen Polo GTI by pressing here.


Exterior Design

The new Fiesta is a handsome hatchback even though its proportions look almost identical with the previous generation. The ST is distinguished by a redesigned bodykit which might be closely related with the lesser Fiesta ST-line trim, however, it gets a number of styling tweaks, better suited with the performance-oriented nature of the car.

At the front, the full-LED headlights (optional in Europe) have a premium look, while the mesh grille with the red ST emblem and the dark painted lower part of front bumper surrounding the side air intakes reveal that this is the flagship of the Fiesta range.

We tested the car with 17″ wheels but the Australian spec version will be fitted with more stylish 18″ wheels (optional in Europe) that improve the proportions of the car. Other changes on the side include the extended side sills and the tinted windows. Moving over at the back, we find LED graphics on the taillights, a large rear spoiler as well as a bumper extension with body-colored diffuser and twin exhaust tailpipes.

 


Interior / Equipment

Moving inside the Fiesta ST, you immediately feel the sportiness because of the heavily bolstered Recaro seats. The flat-bottomed ST-branded steering wheel has a thick rim with blue stitching which is also present on the metal gearknob and on the physical handbrake. The carbon-look details on the dashboard and the soft-touch plastics improve the looks of the cabin which is a big improvement compared to the previous generation. Our only complains have to do with the lack of grab handles (the co-driver really needs one in a car like this) and also the design of the doors which look less premium than the rest of the cabin, revealing the humble supermini origins of this model.

The 8″ touch screen sitting high on the center console gives you access to Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system which includes everything that you would expect from a modern unit – multimedia (FM, dab, Bluetooth), smartphone connectivity (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto) and navigation. The screen is very responsive and the system is easy to use right from the start. A very useful feature was the ability to always have the screen in “Night Mode” with a dark background that doesn’t distract the driver from the road, while you can even turn it off completely if you prefer no technology at all. The physical knobs for the volume and the tune are really nice, but we found ourselves not using any of the buttons in between, as the equivalent controls on the steering wheel were good enough for changing tracks, stations, and volume. Another feature we really enjoyed is the B&O sound system with 10 speakers, woofer and subwoofer (optional in Europe) providing a rich sound for the audiophiles, even though its max volume could be a little bit higher.

The Fiesta ST is a small car, so we didn’t really expect it to be spacious inside. However, it can comfortably seat four adults with more than adequate knee-room and head-room for its segment. In the 5-door version, the rear doors and the larger side windows make the cabin considerably less claustrophobic compared to its 3-door counterpart (not available in Australia). Luggage space is 292 liters, which is an average size for the segment, however, its shape could be a little bit more practical. Cabin storage is not great either, with a small glovebox, a small storage box under the armrest, two cupholders, a dedicated place for your smartphone below the center console and medium-sized door pockets.

As for safety and driving assistance features, the Australian spec Fiesta ST is equipped with cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, speed sign recognition, blind zone and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, rear-view camera, and rear parking sensors. Unfortunately, Ford doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control on this model.

 


Driving Experience

From the moment you find yourself sitting deep in the Recaro sport seats, you immediately notice the exceptional driving position. The ST emblem that greets you on the screen reminds you that you have a very capable car on your behalf. You press the start button and the exhaust note immediately feels a lot sportier than the base Fiesta – especially when you select the Sport or Track modes using the three buttons in a weird spot right below the handbrake.

In the city, the car feels nimble even though the turning radius has increased. The clutch pedal with short travel and the precise gearbox are great for fast take-offs. The ride is firm – as you would expect from a true hot hatch – but it feels more comfortable compared to its predecessor and it is definitely easier to live with. Even though it only has three cylinders, the engine has more than enough grunt and doesn’t sound weird. For improved fuel economy, it even has cylinder deactivation technology, although not many owners will stay close to the official figure of 6,0 lt/100km – in the real world, you should expect something closer to 8,0 or 9,0 lt/100km if you enjoy pushing your car every once in a while. On the highway, you will enjoy a quiet and comfortable experience thanks to the long 6th gear.

On the country roads is where you really start noticing the virtues of the ST. Steering is amazingly quick and nicely weighted (especially in Sport mode), allowing you to place the car exactly where you want on the road while body roll is unnoticeable thanks to the aggressive and sophisticated suspension setup. Every corner puts a smile in your face as you quickly trust the car and you find yourself pushing harder. The chassis is so well balanced, making it surprisingly easy to control the weight of the car in tight corners. In Sport mode, the ESP is less intervening while in Track mode it is completely off even though you can still turn it on/off from a dedicated button. Driving closer to the limit, you feel the rear end slipping and the inside wheel lifting from the ground, however, you always remain confident and in control. When cornering, the Quaife limited-slip differential (optional in Europe) sends more power to the outer wheel, while torque vectoring brakes the inside wheel allowing you to exit faster and with considerably less understeer. Thanks to all those features, the Fiesta ST not only excels in its segment but threatens larger and more expensive hatchbacks on the terms of driving dynamics.


Pricing / Warranty (Australia)

Base price (before on-road costs): $31,990 (Australia)
Metallic Paint: $650
Panoramic Sunroof: $2,500

Drive Away Price: $35,000

Ford Australia offers a 5-year unlimited km warranty. For more information, contact your local dealer or visit the official website here.


Verdict

The Ford Fiesta ST (MK8) is simply the best B-Segment hot hatch money can buy, with plenty of character, appealing looks and more than adequate performance. Its strongest point is its exceptional handling and the ability to offer driving pleasure regardless of the driver’s experience. The engineers at Ford Performance managed to build a supermini that is easier to live with, without compromising any of the driving dynamics associated with the ST emblem. In a world full of boring cars, the Fiesta ST keeps the fun alive, reminding us why we love driving.

Hot Hatch Rating: 8,5/10

 


 


Detailed Specifications

ModelFord Fiesta MK8 ST
Production2018-present
SegmentB
Doors3/5
LayoutFWD
Engine Displacement1496 cm3
CylindersL3
InductionTurbocharged
FuelGasoline
Fuel SystemDirect Injection
Power (hp)200 hp
Power (kw)147 kw
Power (@rpm)@6000 rpm
Torque (Nm)290  Nm
Torque (@rpm)1600-4000 rpm
0-100km/h6,5 sec
Top Speed (km/h)232 km/h
Top Speed (mph)144 mph
Fuel Consumption6,0 lt/100km
CO2 (g/km)136 g/km
Gearbox6 MT
Weight1262 kg
Length4068 mm
Width1735 mm
Height1469 mm
Wheelbase2493 mm
Front Track1516 mm
Rear Track1476 mm
Boot Space292 liters
Tire Size205/45 R17 or R18
Front Brakes278 mm Ventilated Discs
Rear Brakes253 mm Solid Discs