Ford Fiesta 3 Door 1.5T EcoBoost ST 3 200PS
- P11D Value: £21,985
- BIK band:28%
- 3-door hot hatch
- 200ps 1.5 litre, 3cyl petrol/six-speed manual
- Economy / CO2 Emissions: 47mpg / 136g/km
- Performance: 6.5 sec /144mph
What is it?
We said in 2017 that the 140bhp ST-Line Fiesta was pretty exciting, but nothing compares to the real ST.
Out now and with the first examples cropping up on the roads, we’ve finally laid our hands on one and driven it. It is the fastest Fiesta of the current, 7th generation line-up and a true hot hatch, boasting a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 144mph.
Ford shifted 1,000,000 of the outgoing sixth-gen Fiesta, and expects one-in-10 sales going forwards to be of this model, the ST. That’s an enormous potential sales share for what could otherwise be a niche, hard core enthusiast-only car, so the obvious question is not just how it performs in extremis but what it’s like to live with?
Why would you want to drive a Ford Fiesta ST?
- The 197bhp 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is very characterful, producing pops on the over-run depending what drive setting you engage – Normal, Sport or Track. It is also smooth and quiet when you want it to be, and imperceptibly deactivates one cylinder on part throttle settings to save fuel. You cannot detect when this happens, meaning that you can have your cake and eat it with running costs.
- And what cake. What other testers have said is true. The car has a strange ability to almost pivot round sharp corners, as though it already knew you were going there. This has to do with innumerable tweaks beneath the surface, partly to do with suspension and partly to do with stiffening of the actual body through underside bracing and a very stiff torsion-beam at the back, and a faster steering rack. It’s utterly brilliant to drive on the right B-road, while still refined on a motorway.
- The engine pulls very strongly and has better torque from 1,600rpm than the previous ST. The three cylinders produce a hint of warble but not enough to define the car’s character (unlike the old five-cylinder Focus ST).
- The six-speed manual gear box doesn’t quite have the perfect weight of the current Honda Type-R, but it’s almost flawless, being rifle-action precise and with a suitably short throw.
- Inside, there are bigger changes, with a higher-quality, more modern design for the dashboard. It is dominated by a standard (on this model) 8.0” touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple Carplay and Android Auto and two USB sockets.
- Our test model came with optional B&O PLAY in-car audio premium sound system, which is better than many larger, premium-badged makes of car and in our view well worth the £350 cost, although consider the slight ingress of the boot-mounted sub-woofer before deciding finally to tick the box.
- Heated front seats and cruise control allow the ST-3 to make the most of its cruising ability and comfortable, ‘hugging’ Recaro seats.
- One option box that a lot of potential owners will tick is the ST performance pack, which includes a Quaife limited slip differential, which prevents needless front wheel slippage under heavy acceleration, launch control and ‘performance shift lights’. This costs £850.
- The suspension never crashes over anything including pot holes, showing that the Ford engineers know all about English roads…
What might put you off a Ford Fiesta ST
- …but whether it passes the ‘partner/mother-in-law ride quality test’ depends pretty heavily on the poartner and mother-in-law. It’s a hugely precise ride and every dimple in the road is transmitted, particularly at lower speeds. Make sure you test it back to back with the ST-Line version or other models before you decide if the ST is for you. It’ll depend very much on where and how you drive.
- Some testers have criticised the Recaro seats for being uncomfortable over longer distances. We didn’t drive a long enough distance to judge and it may depend, polite cough, on how wide your posterior is.
- Some might say that the exclusive Performance Blue that our test car came with, while very desirable (and lovely), is too expensive as an option at £745.
Verdict on the Ford Fiesta ST-3
On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer to go for the ST, which begins at £19,495 for the entry ST-1 and offers so much more engine and power and dynamics than the other models. It’s a brilliant car and a bargain when compared to some of the opposition, such as the Toyota Yaris GRMN, which occupies a much higher price point.
However, almost no one will buy the ST-1 and those who do will still want some options, so it’s better to think of it as a £20,000+ car. Our ST-3, heavily optioned, came out at an eye-watering £24,495.
What you do with your car day-in-day-out matters, and you’ll want to consider this carefully before deciding. The ST-Line 140PS model that we raved about a year ago, costing from £17,495, might on the surface of it seem like poor value, but its softer ride yet still pin-sharp dynamic handling makes it a compelling alternative, especially if you can drive a sharp deal with a dealer while high demand keeps the ST nailed to its RRP. Other buyers may look to the Vignale trim for a more luxurious outcome, and there are no shortage of keenly priced alternatives lower down – all brilliant in their own way.
The reality is that Ford has created a compelling range of Fiesta specs and prices, and what journalists rave about on a track doesn’t always translate into day to day usability – although certainly you could live very happily with the ST as your only wheels. Perhaps its most compelling trait is its cake-and-eat-it performance and running costs, with a real world late-40s mpg achievable, a big advance over previous generations of hot hatches.
Would it work as your company car? Why not, if you can get away with it on the choice list. After all, it’s a big bundle of fun with company car tax starting from just £103 a month.
It’s just a bit more of having all the cake…