Ford Fiesta ST long-term test: report 4
It's the most entertaining hot hatch available for less than £25,000, but is the Ford Fiesta ST also a great everyday car? We're living with one to find out...
The car Ford Fiesta ST-3 (5-Door) 1.5T Ecoboost Start/Stop 6-Speed Manual Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager
Why it’s here To find out if the latest Ford Fiesta ST can be the ultimate everyday driver’s car
Needs to be Fun to drive and yet usable everyday, plus economical both on long journeys and around town.
Mileage 1052 List price £25,300 Target Price £23,494 Price as tested £27,200 Options fitted Silver Fox metallic paint (£750) Full LED headlamps (£600) Driver Assistance Pack (£550) Official economy 40.1mpg (WLTP) Test economy 39.2mpg
14 November 2020 – Road or track?
Why do we buy hot hatches? For the same reason we love them, of course. The way they drive and the practical package they offer. And my Fiesta ST is proof that manufacturers are still investing in developing affordable driver-focused cars.
On a recent (pre-lockdown 2) trip to the Cotswolds, I was able to experience just how good this thing is in its natural habitat, and it really didn't disappoint. On the dry twisty B-roads around Stourton, the ST came alive. It’s human nature to want more, more straight line speed, more exhaust noise, but in this environment – the natural habitat of hot hatches – I realised I had no need to ask for much more of anything.
The ST turns in beautifully, with a level of precision that ultimately gives you huge amounts of confidence when you’re pushing on, and this makes placing the car an absolute doddle. This comes thanks to the Quaife limited-slip differential (included within the ST Performance Pack and standard in my ST-3), which helps maintain traction out of corners; the grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres and nicely weighted steering.
The aforementioned Quaife differential is a £950 option in the lower-spec ST-2; there's no doubt that you'll still enjoy life without it if you need to keep costs down, but it's a price well worth paying for the ST to be at its sublime best.
The Recaro sport seats deserve their own mention. While at times during a commute I feel comfortable but slightly constricted, here they hold me like a baseball in a freshly sewn glove and it’s a wonderful feeling.
The Fiesta ST has another trick up its sleeve, and it's a virtue that, on these fantastic but at times narrow country lanes, is a blessing. That is, of course, its size. At no point did I feel like I was overwhelming the width of the road – something that would have been the case in a Honda Civic Type R or even the previous Ford Focus RS. I could rest easy knowing that whatever vehicles were sharing the road neither of us would have to brush the hedgerow in order to pass.
I never want for more interior space day-to-day, and in fact celebrate the compactness of the Fiesta around London, but in scenarios when you want to make the most out of the handling on narrow roads, it’s even more of a benefit to have something small and manoeuvrable.
Unfortunately, the firm ride came back to haunt me, corrupting my smile even on a magical drive like this. It seems ride issues that plague my day-to-day motoring aren't confined to London’s imperfect city streets. Anyone familiar with a good British B-road knows that they seldom have a silky surface, and in those moments of driving bliss I found myself wincing as the car struggled to soak up the rough that punctuates smooth.
On that long weekend, it struck me that – much like when you're driving an Alpine A110 – you don’t have to be moving at a rate of knots to enjoy the ST on a good road. The depths of its skillset are revealed well within the speed limits and that’s vitally important if you’re looking to enjoy your car outside a track day environment. I just wish that its ride was a bit more supple. It's one of the few chinks in the ST’s armour.
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Ford Fiesta ST long-term test
It's the most entertaining hot hatch available for less than £25,000, but is the Ford Fiesta ST also a great everyday car? We're living with one to find out