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Ford Fiesta ST last look

The last Ford Fiesta is about to roll off the production line, which also means the end of the Fiesta ST hot hatch. Is it going out on a high?...

Ford Fiesta ST new in front of old

According to the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’, a bigger budget should mean a better buy. It’s often true, but not always; the Ford Fiesta ST proves that. Throughout its life, this hot hatch has served keen drivers pace and precision – not to mention fun – at bargain prices, helping it to multiple What Car? Hot Hatch of the Year awards.

Sadly, though, its life as a new car is almost over, and no direct successor is planned to take its place. In fact, the Ford Fiesta range as a whole is saying adiós as Ford shifts its focus to electric cars and SUVs.

So, is the Fiesta ST in its final form worthy of being the model’s grand finale? Well, we jumped behind the wheel of one of the last examples to answer that question. More specifically, the model you see here is a facelifted – for 2022 – version of the eighth-generation Fiesta, the third generation to bear an ST badge. 

Ford Fiesta ST 2022 front cornering

This features a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which might sound fairly modest. However, with the help of a turbocharger it puts out 197bhp – a figure that isn’t to be underestimated in what is a comparatively light and compact package. 

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It’s a responsive unit even from low down in the rev range. And the benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes 6.5sec in both pre-facelift and post-facelift cars, despite the latter possessing slightly more torque.

A six-speed manual is the only gearbox available, and if you change up near the redline the exhaust crackles and pops pleasingly. Fortunately, these theatrics never tip over into being too loud or obnoxious.

Ford Fiesta ST 2022 rear cornering

Engine noise is also enhanced for occupants by the car’s speakers, particularly when you’re driving the Fiesta ST in Sport or Race mode. However, switch to Normal or Eco (the latter was introduced with the facelift) and things quieten down significantly. 

Speaking of eco driving, if you ease off the accelerator pedal, one cylinder can deactivate to improve fuel efficiency. As a bonus, this is barely perceivable from behind the wheel.

It all adds to the ST’s credentials as a hot hatch you can use every day. Yes, the ride is busy – so comfort isn’t stellar – but it takes the sting out of larger bumps reasonably well.

Ford Fiesta ST side driving

Certainly better than its predecessor, the 2013-2017 Ford Fiesta ST. Go over a nasty bump in one of those used hot hatches, particularly at low speed, and the impact is notably less cushioned. However, if you can put up with this, the reward is even tighter body control.

It was actually the 2002-2008 Ford Fiesta that was first to get an ST variant, but it was with the 2013-2017 car that Ford really nailed the formula. This version has an innate balance, and you can easily adjust your line mid-corner simply by lifting off the accelerator slightly, while the steering and gearshift are super slick. 

The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine in that second-generation Fiesta ST needs quite a few revs before it really gets going, but when it does, it builds power in a linear and exciting fashion. By contrast, the 1.5 that replaced it gives you the lot almost straight away; you’ll have to decide for yourself which kind of power delivery you prefer.

Ford Fiesta ST 2022 right tracking

In building upon its predecessor's template, the current one introduces some good, some bad and some subjective differences – such as the described power delivery. Starting with the positives, there’s its limited-slip differential (LSD). 

Part of the Performance Pack (initially a popular optional extra, but later standard fit), it enhances traction when accelerating out of corners. As part of the package, you also get launch control and shift lights that warn you you’re about to hit the rev limiter.   

To help keep the rear of the car in check, Ford invented a new kind of spring for the ST’s rear suspension. Slightly banana-shaped, you can feel it working through corners, helping to stop the rear from becoming too wayward. That said, the car remains keen to pivot around its front wheels. 

As for the negatives, the steering is heavier than the second-generation Fiesta ST’s, but in a way that feels artificial, so it actually lessens your sense of connection to the front wheels.

Ford Fiesta ST rear cornering

For these reasons, along with the aforementioned better body control, it’s the second Fiesta ST that offers the slightly more rewarding driving experience. In fact, it’s so good that we dubbed it ‘Best for tight budgets’ in the sports car section of our 2023 Used Car of the Year Awards.  

You’ll currently need around £8500 to pick up a 2013 or 2014 model that’s in good nick. It’ll likely be an example sporting the mid-range ST-2 trim, meaning you’ll get some desirable kit, including heated front seats and a Sony infotainment and sound system. 

That said, we recommend upping your budget to around £10,000 if you can. This way you can net yourself a 2016 or 2017 Fiesta ST. These models received a host of small upgrades, including slightly more compliant suspension and quicker steering – upgrades that were brought over from the limited-run Ford Fiesta ST200.

Ford Fiesta ST front

Alternatively, if you want the latest-generation Fiesta ST, with its slightly more compliant ride, we’d advise you spend at least £14,000; for that, you’ll get a respectable 2018 model in ST-2 trim. 

Sadly, through our latest What Car? Reliability Survey, we can see that the current Fiesta (as a whole) is significantly less reliable than the previous one. It ranked last out of 28 cars in the small car category, whereas its predecessor placed 19th.

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