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...
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 for normal life, plus economical both on long journeys and around town
Mileage 1242 List price £25,300 Target Price £25,116 Price as tested £27,200 Official economy 40.1mpg (WLTP) Test economy 40.6mpg Dealer price now £19,527 Private price now £17,358 Trade-in price now £17,474 Running costs Fuel £128.13
19 January 2021 – Put a spring in your commuting step.
Working in this industry, I have the privilege of spending quality time in a multitude of different cars and quite often they surprise you – in good ways and bad. But the best compliment I can give to my Fiesta ST is that there were very few surprises. I predicted it would be fantastic and in reality, it was just that.
A few reports ago, I prefaced my update with the statement, “we buy hot hatches for their blend of performance and practicality” and while that still holds entirely true, in saying goodbye to the ST I feel the need to add another point into the mix: fun. When making such an emotional choice as selecting a hot hatch, the F word ought to rank very high among the must-haves. It certainly does for me.
A hot hatch has to push the envelope on the road and provide you with something that straight line speed just can’t deliver all on its own – driver finesse – and this little Fiesta ST has it in bucket loads.
I looked forward to driving it at every opportunity and whether I was pulling onto a motorway or pootling around town, I always had a smile on my face, and that's what hot hatch ownership is all about. And on those days where the ST had to be more than a pocket rocket I was blown away by its usability in town, its efficiency and usable space for passengers and luggage alike. And those cold starts were smile-inducing in themselves, because of the noise that accompanied them.
In the spirit of usability and extracting the most out of these cars, I personally feel like the ST offers all the performance you could ever want. Of course for another £15,000 you can jump behind the wheel of a hot hatch that would make a supercar blush, the Mercedes A45 S and the BMW M135i to name a couple but on British roads at least, you won’t ever be wanting for more.
For one thing, a good manual gearbox is crucial. Why? Because for those times when you’re not engaged in a tedious commute, it allows you to enjoy another valuable point of contact with the car. And the good news is that the setup in my ST was fantastic. Slick, smooth and with just the right amount of resistance to remind you of the physical act of changing gear.
The infotainment system was good rather than exceptional but then I didn’t feel it needed to be. It just has to be straightforward and responsive and Ford’s Connect system is both of those things. If I were to nitpick, I would like it to be slightly quicker but I never felt derailed by the slight delay in commands. My phone always connected instantly (I can’t say this was the case in my previous BMW 1 Series) and navigating the radio stations (my primary concern) was simple and efficient.
For those who have kept up with my ST reports, you’ll know that I do have one gripe and that concerns the ride. No matter how I tried to assess it – to seek out those glorious British country roads and frame it in its best light (between lockdowns, of course) I just couldn’t get my head around the setup in most other situations. It always felt firmer than it needed to be and while a B-road blast would quickly diffuse my qualms, everywhere else, it definitely stood out.
So, is the ride a deal breaker? Well, to be honest, as I stood waiting for the car to be collected, it was the only question left hanging over my head. I loved so much about the ST – would a firm ride stop me from running one again? The short answer is no.
The best things in life aren’t perfect and I personally pride character and quality of drive over most things in a car – provided the weaknesses aren’t overwhelming. And for all its firmness, the pros of the Fiesta ST are just too vibrant to ignore. It is quite simply addictive to drive, and for roughly £25,000, there isn’t anything better. Put it this way, there’s a reason why it’s our 2021 Best hot hatch for value.
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