Last Word First
I have had a long association with terriers. I love their unruliness, their energy, their tenacity and their level of sheer cheek that in effect proves they have you sussed. Most are small in physical terms, but they more than make up for their lack of stature by sheer character and a can-do attitude way above their perceived status.
Small city cars are invariably good at what they do, from their ease of use to their efficient use of road space, they remove a lot of the angst of urban travel, and with the right encouragement can perform with enthusiasm at the traffic light Grand Prix. Unfortunately, if you take them out of their environment and ask them to up their game through a mountain pass or some twisties, you may find that you are asking for too much from a car that hasn’t got it to give.
Enter the hot-hatch, where the designers are let loose and the suspension and engine folk get to sharpen their pencils big time. Now not all terriers are the same, some with the enthusiasm but without the poise and grace of others, so it is with these peppered-up city cars. Some work well, some fall short of the harmony required and then there are some that hit the balance of power, comfort, function and desirability that elevates them to nigh on super car status.
Straight up, no messin’ – welcome to one of the worlds best super cars – the new 2018 Ford Fiesta ST, which will arrive here in July in ST2 and ST3 trims levels.
Now, this article could finish right here, the superlatives and the adjectives dispensed with and a clear and unambiguous direction given to all who seek to place a purebred, feisty, trustworthy and talented terrier into their lives. No need to look further – this is a life companion that can be brought into any company and will not embarrass or annoy. This little doggie can definitely defend its bone.
But that would deny the telling of the how, the why and the where, hearts were stolen and instead of carpet getting chewed, it was the twisting tarmac of the Cote de Provence that was subjected to a right ragging.
Model: Fiesta ST
Format: High performance hatchback with 3 & 5 door option
Trim Levels: ST2 & ST3
Engine: All aluminium 1.5 litre EcoBoost, 3-cylinder, turbo petrol, (1.6 litre, 4-cylinder turbo)
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 200bhp, (up from 180bhp)
Torque: 290Nm, (up from 240Nm)
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Tax Band: B2
Annual Road Tax: €280
Boot space: 311litres expanding to 1,092 litres with rear seats folded.
Length: 4,068mm 3 & 5 door
Width: 1,941mm, including mirrors, 3 & 5 door
Height: 1,469mm, 3 & 5 door
Wheelbase: 2,493mm, 3 & 5 door
Fuel capacity: 42 litres
Price: Fiesta ST 2 from €28,120 and Fiesta ST 3 from €30,270.
Some of the competition
VW Polo GTi, Suzuki Swift Sport, Renault Clio Sport, Peugeot 208GTi, DS3, Opel Corsa GSi, Cupra Ibiza
Wearing bespoke metallic blue, the 2018 Fiesta ST doesn’t scream into your eyes or demand attention via some garish detail, its wears an ST badge on the lower left of its honeycomb grill, the daytime running lights drawing you to the LED headlights, as they veer upswept into the bonnet. The lower grill and front air dam allows air to feed into the cooling channels for the engine, whilst the line takes my eyes to the side of the ST3, where large 18” alloys, (ST2 comes with 17”), shod with tailor-made Michelin Pilot 205-section rubber await.
The side profile of this small city car is dominated by a line starting low at the front and sweeping up to the rear light cluster, giving length to the car. The rear roof spoiler, air diffuser and exhaust work really well together, not being overly dominant, giving the rear end a well sorted stance.
The Recaro part-leather seats in my ST3, (ST2 comes with fabric Recarro’s), test car welcomed me like a long lost relative, the snugness of the bolsters and the long supportive seat squab, (where you place your tail!), place you facing a fresh-faced console, with a bang up-to-date centre screen, the mix of materials and the quality of assembly at a level only premium cars of high worth supplied just a few years ago.
Comfort and assistance systems abound on the ST, from the decadent heated steering wheel to blind-spot warning in the mirrors. The large screen gives access to Apple Carplay/Android Auto, the entertainment system, the air-conditioning and once stored can be accessed via SYNC voice activation.
On the Road
I like the real substance of the 2018 Fiesta ST, from the great-feeling leather steering wheel to the first selection of forward motion, the car feels so much more than a city car that’s been to the gym. Anyone who drove the previous Fiesta ST raved about its talents, the combination and sheer balance of the chassis, the suspension, the engine, (180bhp), delivered a driving experience that you would genuinely pay close to six figures to place in your driveway.
This 2018 model now runs via a 1.5 litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, replacing the 1.6 litre four-pot of before. Not alone have Ford reduced the amount of cylinders, this new triple also operates cylinder deactivation, running on two pots during light throttle openings and while coasting to improve fuel economy. The technology can disengage or re-engage one cylinder in 14 milliseconds or 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – nifty stuff!. It takes constant reminding that this a small family hatchback, albeit one that can leave tarmac in its mirrors with vigorous delight.
At the launch of the ST I got the chance to take Fords latest incarnation to the hills of the Cote de Provence, where the climbs, twists and turns, offer a constant challenge. Anyone thinking that the triple would lack the meatiness of the four, need to share the road with this latest powerplant.
Steering feel is really top-class, the throttle response, even in a gear higher than what might be the optimum, still allowed the car to pull strongly, the fuelling excellent. Choose the responsive gear and the ST is downright ravenous when put into a series of curves, delivering poise, balance and feedback that is driving gold.
Electronic monitoring sits covertly on the new Fiesta ST, with Torque Vectoring Control as standard. This slice of tech silently and subtly uses the cars braking system to imitate the effect of a limited-slip differential. Without going full banzai on jargon, TVC recognises when on a tight corner the inside tyre has more demand placed on it than the other. It can then step in and bring on a delicate amount of braking to that inside front wheel, resulting in more engine torque going to the outside wheel, thereby giving better traction and improved grip. The result of this voodoo is a road conversation with the ST that is informative and calm, with no frantic steering correction or pedal dancing.
In addition to this invisible guardian, there is the option of getting your 2018 Fiesta ST fitted with a limited-slip differential. Developed by Kent based company Quaife, their ATB, (Automatic Torque Biasing), limited-slip differential provides enthusiastic owners mechanical control of their drive grip, sending drive to the wheel with the most traction and not the one with the least load.
Its availability to the Fiesta ST a true indication of how advanced it is, such tech normally only seen on high-end sport hatches and other exotica. The additional option of Launch Control hides any subtlety about the ST’s potential.
Living with the 2018 Fiesta ST for a morning’s drive gave all the indications that it could be a very harmonious relationship. Should you have to collect an elderly relative, the hardest part may be in getting them across the bolster of the Recaro seat, the ride quality being very compliant and not the jack-hammer one might expect. In keeping with the well-bred nature of the ST, it comes with a suspension system that cleverly dealt the road-ripple nature of the French villages I went through, without endeavouring to drive my spine out through the top of my head.
The Fiesta ST arrives here in July and I'm looking forward to sharing its inherent talent with some of my favourite roads. In my short time with it, the ST showed civility and good manners, with its terrier pedigree lying dormant until provoked. Once stirred into action, the ST showed its lineage without a tail being wagged and all salivating occurring at the steering wheel. I say it is reasonably priced in the context of what it offers, buyers often paying out twice its price in the hope and often failure of experiencing such road tactility. Make no mistake, this new Fiesta ST is a super car.
Standard features on Fiesta ST 2 include:
- 17” alloy wheels’ matt black
- Halogen projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights
- Rear LEDs
- ST-design full body-styling kit
- Large rear spoiler
- Dual chrome exhaust
- Selectable drive mode
- ST suspension setting
- Recaro performance seats with blue stitching
- Cruise control
- Keyless start
- Heated front seats
- Ambient lighting
- Ford SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- B&O Play premium audio system with 360° sound
- NCAP pack including lane-keeping alert and lane-keeping aid, speed limiter, rear seatbelt minder, rear centre headrest and auto headlamps.
Standard features additional to Fiesta ST 3:
- 18” alloy wheels magnetised machined
- Powerfold mirrors
- Recaro performance seats (partial leather)
- Keyless entry
- Rear view camera
- Rear parking sensors
- Auto highbeam
- Driver alert and traffic sign recognition
- Auto wipers
- Auto dimming mirror
- Leather steering wheel with red stitching.
Lane Keeping Aid
Engine Cylinder Deactivation
B&O Play Sound System
beepbeep Motoring Correspondent
Association of Professional Motor Press
Voting member of Irish Car & Van of the Year