First Drive

2016 Ford Fiesta ST200 review

The Ford Fiesta ST200 gets more power and mechanical changes for a bigger price tag. This is our first experience of it on UK roads

Words ByNic Cackett

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The Ford Fiesta ST is the warmed-up version of its maker’s best-selling supermini, and it’s always been an easy car to like. It has balletic handling, it's affordable to buy and comparatively cheap to run - everything you want from a small hot hatch.

An entirely new Fiesta is on the horizon, so before the current version finally goes off sale, Ford thinks it can go one better. This special edition Fiesta ST200 boosts power to 197bhp and comes in an exclusive Storm Grey colour scheme. At Β£22,745, it’ll be the flagship model and offer healthy competition to the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy.

What is the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST200 like to drive?

Clearly, the ST200’s principal theme is that it goes a bit quicker than the standard car. It does so by virtue of the extra power being delivered by the same turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. 'A bit' is the right term; Ford itself quotes only a 0.2sec drop in 0-62mph time, which is far too slender an improvement to really be noticeable in the real world.

Much more appreciable is the car’s newfound in-gear pace. This is a characteristic not only of more torque – which thanks to an β€˜overboost’ function now goes as high as 236lb ft for up to 20secs – but also shorter gearing, which the manufacturer has employed in order to distinguish the car from the equally powerful Fiesta ST Mountune MP215 (Mountune being the tuning outfit that enjoys a close working partnership with Ford).

This makes the ST200 punchier in the higher gears of its six-speed manual; a likeable trait that blends with the conspicuous warble coming from the engine’s symposer-enhanced exhaust note. To better harness the engine's new output, Ford has also tinkered with the car’s chassis settings. The revisions, which have also been applied to the regular ST, include stronger front and rear anti-roll bars. These have improved the ST's already tight body control, meaning the ST200 stays flatter through tight turns.

At the same time, the dampers have then been slightly relaxed for a smoother ride. It’s a subtle change, because the ST200 is still the firm-riding car you’d expect it to be, but the original ST’s bone-shaking qualities are a distant memory. The steering is tweaked, too, and while it occasionally feels heavy at times, its accuracy and enthusiasm for returning to centre are never in doubt. Nor is the compelling way the Fiesta continues to drive.

What is the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST200 like inside?

Modifications in the ST200’s cabin are modest. Most notably, it gets a pair of handsome charcoal-coloured Recaro front seats. These have some contrastingly coloured silver stitching, as do the seatbelts. There’s model branding on both the scuff plates and the centre console, but little else to distinguish this flagship model from the standard car apart from a respectable level of standard kit.

Arguably, the Fiesta receives a demerit here simply on the basis of its age. Its infotainment system is hugely fiddly and often infuriating. This places it several leagues behind a number of its direct rivals – the slightly cheaper Mini Cooper S being first among them.

Nevertheless, the interior feels generally well screwed together, and such are the ST200’s dynamic charms that you soon forget any of the Fiesta’s usability issues once you’re underway.

Should I buy one?

Ford hasn’t fallen into the trap of trying to change too much about the ST. The Fiesta ST200 is a subtle enhancement of the hot hatch’s already obvious strengths, and the fact that the ST200 isn’t a limited-edition model suggests that Ford expects it to appeal to lots of hot-hatch buyers.

We’d second that, but with a qualifying thought about the price. The ST200 is Β£3k more expensive than the best equipped of the regular STs, the ST-3, and Β£5k more than the cheapest ST-1. In addition to this, despite not getting the power upgrades, those regular STs do get all the ST200’s suspension and steering modifications.

So while we love the ST200, our head says you’d still have just as much fun for a lot less cash with one of those standard hot hatch versions instead.


What Car? says...

Rated 5 out of 5


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Rivals:

Mini JCW

Renault Clio


Ford Fiesta ST200

Engine size 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol

Price from Β£22,745

Power 197bhp

Torque 213lb ft

0-62mph 6.7sec

Top speed 143mph

Fuel economy (official combined) 46.3mpg

CO2/BIK band 140g/km, 25%