“ST should be synonymous with affordable, dependable performance and should reflect the character of the car which it is derived from,” says Jost Capito, TeamRS director.
The new Fiesta ST certainly plays on the model’s existing strengths. The tight chassis has been modified to give even better handling and roadholding, while the steering is quicker and the gearchange slightly shorter.
On twisting roads the amount of grip is almost unfathomable and gives you far too much bravado when throwing it into tight corners.
There’s minimal body roll and even with the ESP switched off, the handling is pin sharp and traction spot-on.
It is powered by the new free-revving 148bhp 2.0-litre Duratec engine which works well with the five speed’ box, although the ratio between second and third gear is a little too wide. It’s quick enough and great fun, particularly at the top end of the rev counter.
In terms of styling Ford has gone for the less is more approach. Using the unfussy look of the Fiesta it has added subtle side skirts, a wider front grille, front fogs from the Mondeo ST and a tail spoiler. The 17inch alloys complete the look and show off the rear brake discs – a first for a Fiesta.
The interior gets minor changes such as new seat cloths, metal pedals and a few dashes of red highlights.
Ford expects to sell around 9,000 STs each year and it is promoting the car as a return to its hot hatch days. The first 2,000 buyers will be offered a free driver training day including handling, emergency avoidance and speed guidance.
Strengths: Superb handling and grip plus economy
Weakness: Interior could be sportier
Opportunity: Puts the Fiesta into hot hatch territory
Threat: XR2i associations
The USP: First fast Fiesta for a decade
Engines: 2.0-litre Duratec, 148bhp @ 6,000rpm
Transmission: 5spd manual, fwd
Performance: 0-62mph 7.9sec; top speed 129mph
CAP RV (3yr/30k): TBA
Efficiency: 38.2mpg, 179g/km CO2
Rivals: Peugeot 206 GTi, Seat Ibiza FR, Renault Clio Renaultsport, Vauxhall Corsa SRi