Let us consider for a moment some of the finest names in the hot hatch hall of fame: the fabled Peugeot 205 GTi has to be in there, for starters, and so too does the much celebrated Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI. But the list wouldn't be complete without the glorious Ford Fiesta ST.
Indeed, the previous-generation Fiesta ST represented Ford's performance division at its very best. A keen price, a fantastic turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and truly engaging handling meant it won no fewer than four Hot Hatch of the Year titles on the trot in the coveted What Car? Awards. The anticipation for its replacement, then, was huge.
So it seems strange to say that this current ST has lost already...a cylinder, that is. Yep, the Fiesta ST now has a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that features cylinder deactivation technology, allowing it to run on just two cylinders at a cruise to save fuel. But, fear not, with all three cylinders firing, the engine kicks out a punchy 197bhp, keeping performance very much the order of the day.
Elsewhere, there's the option of a limited-slip differential to catapult the front-wheel-drive Fiesta ST out of corners; a body stiffened to aid agility and overhauled suspension to ensure it handles more keenly. Ford has even given it bespoke Michelin tyres for better grip and a launch control mode, for perfect traffic light sprints.
Read on for our full rundown on how it drives, what it's like inside and what it’ll be like to own. Plus, we’ll tell you how it stacks up against rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Peugeot 208 GTi and Renault Clio RS.