First Drive

2017 Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost 140 ST-Line review - price, specs, release date

With a more focused set-up, the ST-Line offers a more engaging driving experience than the standard Ford Fiesta without sacrificing practicality or everyday usability

Words ByNeil Winn

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Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds, three top-performing athletes that can teach Ford a valuable lesson. You see, being at the top of your game does not necessarily guarantee long term success, even if you happen to be the manufacturer of the UK’s top selling car - for the ninth year running, we might add.

However, after unveiling the new Fiesta back in March, it’s probably safe to say that Ford doesn’t need advice from those athletes. With a range of new engines, revised in-car technology and a revamped design both inside and out, Ford is clearly taking no chances with the replacement of its small hatchback sales sensation.

The Fiesta range is crowned, for now, by this ST-Line model, which gets lower sports suspension, sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, intricate 17in alloy wheels and a plethora of small aerodynamic upgrades.

Unsurprisingly, Ford has retained the services of its impressive three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine. Buyers will initially have three versions of this to choose from, plus a 118bhp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. All should offer impressive fuel economy figures, and crucially, the three lowest-powered motors emit less than 100g/km of CO2.

Across the range, Ford is promising more grip, better stopping performance and improved steering feel over the outgoing Fiesta, along with improved ride quality and refinement.

2017 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST-Line on the road

Any worries that the ST-Line's larger wheels and sports suspension might have corrupted the everyday driveability of the Fiesta are soon put to rest. The clutch is easy to control, the engine offers impressive performance and the ride, although firm, is a world away from the stiffly sprung outgoing Fiesta ST hot hatch.

Even on pockmarked urban roads, the Fiesta demonstrates the grown-up and competent driving manners that you’d expect to find in a car from the class above. Despite having 17in alloys (18in wheels are an option), the Fiesta stays remarkably composed over nasty, sharp-edged bumps, while smaller imperfections are shrugged off with relative ease.

This impressive chassis tuning becomes even more apparent when you get out of the city and onto fast country roads. Turn into a quick corner and the Fiesta’s precise steering builds weight consistently, telling you everything you need to know about what the front tyres are doing. The Fiesta’s movements are fluid and predictable, helping you place it accurately on the road.

But what about the engine? After all, this is the hottest Fiesta in the line-up until the ST hot hatch is released later in the year. Well, with only 138bhp and a 0-62mph time of 9.0sec, the ST Line is not exactly scintillatingly quick, but in reality, that matters little. Its 1.0-litre engine loves to be worked hard, and pulls strongly from 1500rpm all the way to its 6500rpm redline. It’s brilliantly strong, and despite producing a rather underwhelming thrum at high revs, it's genuinely characterful.

Ultimately, as an all rounder, it's this ST-Line is a far more tempting proposition than the more expensive Renault Clio GT-Line, and pips both the excellent Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 and Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 for outright driving pleasure.

2017 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST-Line interior

Despite being on sale for more than eight years, the outgoing Fiesta remained a best-seller all the way up to the end of its life, thanks in part to a driving experience that remained unparalleled in the class and exterior aesthetics that simply failed to date.

However, as time went on, its dreary interior became more and more of a serious chink in the Fiesta's otherwise flawless armour. The sheer number of switches on the mobile phone-inspired dashboard were simply confusing, the 4.2in infotainment screen was difficult to read, and the plethora of plastics used throughout made the interior feel rather cheap.

Thankfully, Ford has invested a great deal of time and effort into ensuring that this latest Fiesta doesn’t fall short when you're sat behind the wheel. Whereas rivals such as the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia can feel a bit cheap (namely on their gloss dashboards), the Fiesta feels distinctly plush. The areas you touch regularly – the steering wheel, gearknob and indicator stalks – feel of a high quality.

Unsurprisingly, ST-Line Fiestas receive additional sporting touches inside. Red-stitched sports seats, a leather flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium pedals and ST-Line kick plates remind you that this is a more focused model. Our only qualm is that the Fiesta retains its rather awkward high driving position, even in this spec.

Next: 2017 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST Line verdict>

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