On sale: Summer 2018 Price from: £18,500 (est)
Ford’s pint-sized Fiesta ST hot hatch has long been a favourite with What Car?; in fact, it’s been named our Hot Hatchback of the Year for five years in a row. So this third-generation version is in a good place to carry on that winning streak.
The new ST is one of 12 cars shortlisted for What Car?'s 2018 Reader Award. To see all of this year's contenders and vote for your favourites, click here.
2018 Ford Fiesta ST engine
The biggest change is a new three-cylinder engine, which produces 197bhp and gives the Fiesta ST a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.7sec – the same sprint time as the old Fiesta ST200.
The new engine comes from the same Ecoboost line-up as the 1.0-litre version we’ve already tried – and praised – in the latest Fiesta.
It’s not all about performance, though; the new engine also has a cylinder deactivation system (a first for a three-cylinder engine) that helps to keep CO2 emissions down to an anticipated 114g/km. We don’t have fuel economy figures yet, but this technology should boost the ST’s mpg figures too.
For the first time, the Fiesta ST gets selectable driving modes that let the driver choose between Normal, Sport and Track settings to alter the responsiveness of the engine, steering and stability control to suit different types of driving. Switching to either of the sportier modes also amplifies the Fiesta ST’s exhaust note.
2018 Ford Fiesta ST interior
Like the latest Fiesta, the ST is slightly larger than the car it replaces and will be available in three- and five-door forms. It’s likely to be offered in three trim levels; all will come with Recaro seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and 18in alloy wheels. More personalisation options than ever will be on offer, including a range of styling packs to make the car stand out.
The Fiesta ST’s reshaped dashboard helps to add more interior space; new features include a digital display in front of the driver and a tablet-style centrally mounted infotainment system. This will measure 6.5in or 8.0in, depending on trim level.
Buyers who want the best-quality music on the move can add a B&O Play sound system.
2018 Ford Fiesta ST price
Ford has moved its Fiesta range upmarket to distance it from the cheaper, more practical Ka+ small hatch, so we expect the ST to be priced slightly higher than the outgoing model, which starts at £18,145. Ford will need to be careful, though, because its key rivals, the Seat Leon SC Cupra and Vauxhall Corsa VXR, cost from £18,465 and £19,245 respectively. We'd anticipate a starting price of close to £18,500.
Looking for a great hot hatchback? These are the best (and worst) options on the market right now.
The best (and worst) hot hatchbacks
10. Audi S1
The S1 may be based on Audi’s little A1 shopper, but a 228bhp engine has been shoehorned under its bonnet and a four-wheel-drive system replaces the usual front-wheel-drive set-up. All that power in such a small package means the S1 is seriously rapid in a straight line. In fact, it’ll outrun a Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The four-wheel drive helps the S1 stay glued to the road in fast corners and the interior is up there with larger luxury models. The ride is a bit firm and the steering a bit lacklustre, though.
9. Audi RS3
Audi has been locked in a power battle with Mercedes-Benz in recent years, but this revised RS3, which borrows the 394bhp five-cylinder engine from its TT RS sports car, puts the hot hatch firmly in the top spot for outright acceleration. You’ll need a well-padded wallet to buy and own an RS3, though. If you’re after something more playful and cheaper, check out the BMW M140i and Ford Focus RS.
The regular Ford Focus is already a very competent family hatchback, so it makes sense that the go-faster version, the Focus ST, would be a great all-rounder as well. You can have it in either 182bhp or 247bhp form but, whichever option you choose, you'll get engaging handling and a great driving position. The interior could do with being a little classier, but it's still a solid option in this market.
Our pick: ST-2