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New Ford Fiesta ST vs used Honda Civic Type R
At our 2021 new car awards, the Fiesta ST won best hot hatch for value, but is it as compelling a choice as a used Civic Type R for the same money?...
New Ford Fiesta 1.5 Ecoboost ST-3 [Performance Pack] 5dr
List Price: £24,980 Target price: £23,808 Official fuel economy: 42.8mpg (WLTP) Emissions: 150g/km CO2 Power: 197bhp 0-62mph: 6.8sec Top speed: 144mph
Used Honda Civic Type-R 2.0 VTEC Turbo GT
Price new: £32,995 Price today: £22,688* Official fuel economy: 33.2mpg (WLTP) Emissions: 193g/km CO2 Power: 316bhp 0-62mph: 5.5sec Top speed: 169mph
*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and a full service history using the What Car? Valuation tool, and is correct at time of writing
You have to start somewhere. Take curries for example; after you've gotten used to a korma or a tikka masala, it makes sense that you'll branch out to something hotter and more exciting, such as madras or vindaloo.
And likewise, if you've grown up with the evergreen Ford Fiesta, the next logical step when looking for a bit more sizzle is the ST version. In its present form, the Fiesta ST is a highly enjoyable hot hatch that's a lot more entertaining as a new car choice than the stolid Volkswagen Polo GTI.
However, if you look for something pre-owned, you could have the full-phall experience with a Honda Civic Type R. When new, it cost more than £30k, putting it beyond the reach of many. But, go for an example that's a few years old, and you can have a seriously spicy hot hatch for similar money to the fanciest Fiesta ST-3 Performance pack.
But which should you go for? Will a new Fiesta ST be enough to whet your appetite, or will you live to regret your choice in the morning if you go for a used Civic Type R? Let's find out.
New Ford Fiesta ST vs used Honda Civic Type R – interior & equipment
Build quality, equipment, ease of use
You wouldn't expect there to be much difference between these two top-spec hot hatches, but there are in fact a few omissions in one that you'll find in the other, and vice versa.
The Fiesta ST spoils you on a cold and frosty morning with not just a heated windscreen, but also a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. You can't have either of those in a Civic Type R, but it does have more safety tech as standard, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. You can add those to a Fiesta ST, but only if you tick the optional Driver Assistance Pack box on the order form.
You wouldn't describe either as being the plushest hot hatches inside – that honour is reserved for the BMW M135i. Cheaper feeling plastics can be easily found in both of our contender, but are more apparent in the Fiesta ST; the Civic Type R makes more prominent use of soft-touch materials. These extend to the doors, and not just the top of the dashboard as in the Fiesta ST. The Civic Type R also has the edge on the feel of its buttons and controls; they operate with an oiled slickness that you just won't find in its rival.
One positive of both interiors is that, unlike those of certain major rivals (Audi S3, we're looking at you), there are plenty of hints that you're driving something special. Whether it be the figure-hugging Recaro seats in the Fiesta ST, or the not-so-subtle red accents, suede trim, and genuine aluminium gear lever in the Civic Type R, you know these two mean business.
Neither infotainment system is a stellar effort, but the Fiesta ST has the sharpest graphics, the least confusing menu layout, and responds to your touch in a prompter manner. In contrast, the Civic Type R has one of the worst systems on the market, and its only saving grace is that both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, allowing you to bypass the car's internal system completely.
New Ford Fiesta ST vs used Honda Civic Type R – space & practicality
Driving position, practicality, visibility
Both of these cars have an excellent driving position, with the pedals lined up perfectly in relation to the steering wheel and seat. Plus, you sit nice and low due to each having height adjustment on the driver's seat. The Fiesta ST does have adjustable lumbar support; the Civic Type R doesn't, but this isn't a major problem because the Civic's seat offers enough support in all the right places to make long-distance driving comfortable.
Forward visibility fine in the Civic Type R, thanks to its relatively slim windscreen pillars, whereas the bulkier items in the Fiesta ST may require you to crane your neck at junctions to look around them. That car's poky rear window means you'll be relying on the standard-fit reversing camera and rear parking sensors in tight parking spots, too, although the same is true with the Civic; its bisected rear window can be a pain, particularly when the car is dirty, because the rear wiper only clears the upper portion.
You can have the Fiesta in both three-door (seen here in the pictures) and five-door forms. Going for the latter makes it much easier to get rear passengers into the back, as you'd expect, but the Civic is still far better for rear-seat accommodation. True, it could use some more head room, but there's so much knee room and leg space behind the front seats that anyone over six feet tall can slouch a little and still be comfortable.
It's another walkover for the Civic when it comes to luggage capacity. Seven carry-on suitcases can be made to fit into the back of it, whereas we could get only five into the Fiesta ST. The Fiesta also has the more obstructive loading lip to lift items over, although its boot is a nice uniform shape and luggage straps are included to secure loose items.
Neither has a fancy split-fold rear seat: 60/40 is your lot.
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