What's the used Ford Fiesta ST hatchback like?
Sometimes it's true that the best things come in small packages. Consider the Ford Fiesta – a bestselling car that's so accomplished in its standard form that it consistently wins top honours in the small car category.
As if that weren’t enough, since 2004 Ford has produced a sporting version called the ST. The first generation car was a hoot, but the second was even better: it was quite sensational and a clear class-leader. Now, though, we have the third-generation ST, which is the fast version of the Mk 8 Fiesta, launched in 2018.
If you step up to ST-2, you get an upgraded sound system, plus climate control and rear privacy glass. ST-3 adds 18in alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, power-folding door mirrors, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry.
Cars fitted with the optional Performance Pack come with a traction-enhancing LSD, plus a launch control and shift lights that tell you when you're about to hit the engine's rev limit.
On the road, that all adds up to one little humdinger of a car. The engine may only have three cylinders but it blasts through the mid-range with a surge of punchy and pleasurable performance. Acceleration times from a standstill are pretty impressive, with the 0 to 62mph dash completed in just 6.6 seconds. The artificially enhanced engine noise adds a sporty and muscular note.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox has a short, snappy change, and the ratios are well chosen to make the most of the car’s potential. There are three driving modes available: Normal, Sport and Track. Moving to Sport from Normal makes the accelerator more responsive, adds weight to the steering and increases the volume of the exhaust. Moving to Track switches off the car's traction control and relaxes its stability control for maximum driver control and, of course, enjoyment.
The Fiesta ST is fab in corners. Its steering is quick and direct, and there’s plenty of grip. The handling is tremendously good fun and adjustable via the throttle, although cars with the LSD offer more traction in tighter or wetter bends. The payback for all the fun is a ride that's firm and occasionally too bouncy. On broken B-roads, it can feel too busy and on longer journeys can be quite tiring – but that's the price you pay for its undeniable cornering abilities.
There’s plenty of space for the driver and passenger up front, but rear-seat passengers will find it more of a squeeze, especially if they're sitting behind someone tall. This latest ST is at least available as a three-door or a five-door car, though. The boot trumps some of its rivals for outright volume, although dropping the 60/40-split rear seats does leave a slightly stepped floor.
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