Ford's hot supermini has been updated for 2019
Pros: Punchy performance, thrilling to drive, corner agility
Cons: Harsh ride quality, lower cost rivals
Ford is renowned for building great everyday performance cars, and the Fiesta ST is one of the brand’s best-selling performance models alongisde the revered Focus RS. The Fiesta ST has been heavily updated for 2019, with a new 200 horsepower 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine and a host of interior and exterior upgrades, so it makes for a lot of fun on paper. The Fiesta ST lines up against other hot superminis such as the Volkswagen Polo GTI, MINI Cooper S and Suzuki Swift Sport, but is it the best driver's in the class? We spent a week with the hot Fiesta hatchback on Irish roads recently to find out.
The five-door Fiesta ST is rather understated for a hot hatch. Enthusiasts will notice the enlarged 18-inch alloy wheels, extra air intakes below the front grille and ST badges throughout, while the twin exhaust system, rear spoiler and upgraded sports brakes separate it from the standard Fiesta supermini. The Fiesta ST turns heads less frequently than the latest Mini Cooper S, though the Performance Blue paint scheme and ‘magnetised’ machined wheels on our test car stand out from thr crowd.
The Fiesta ST is suitably sporty inside, with a pair of gorgeous Recaro Performance seats, which are included on ST3 models. There’s also a chunky leather sports steering wheel with red stitching inlays, aluminium pedals, a sports gear knob and various other ST upgrades. The Fiesta ST is equipped with Ford’s Sync infotainment system and an eight-inch touchscreen as standard, and it’s very easy to use via the steering wheel controls. Our test car is equipped with an optional Bang & Olufsen premium surround sound system with 10 speakers, which sounds superb with a suitable Spotify playlist. As is the case with the standard Fiesta, there are some low rent plastics on the doors and lower down throughout the ST's cabin, however there are plenty of areas to stow away items and it’s roomy enough for four average-sized adults.
The big news is the ST's new 1.5-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which replaces the 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit of old. Despite the downsizing exercise, it’s more powerful with 200 horsepower on tap and also more economical than before. The 1.5-litre Fiesta ST is punchy with a close ratio six-speed gearbox, and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds. Various driving modes are available, including a normal mode for commuting, or Sport for added power delivery and character. What’s more, the sound from the three-cylinder engine is grin-inducing with extra noise in the sportier driving modes, and the little Fiesta certainly excites from the driver’s seat. When driven with a light foot, it's quite economical too with economy returms of 6.8l/100km and annual motor tax rated at €280.
The Fiesta ST is best-enjoyed on tight and twisty roads, thanks to its playful handling and focused suspension setup. The steering is responsive and well-weighted, and the ST grips through tight turns with poise. The Fiesta ST is more engaging to drive than the Volkswagen Polo GTI that we reviewed last year, and it’s better-suited to everyday driving than the Mini Cooper S. As the Fiesta ST’s handling has been honed for performance purposes, the ride quality is harsh on bumpy road surfaces. Our test car is equipped with an upgraded Performance pack which adds a Limited Slip Differential, Launch Control and performance shift lights to alert the driver when to change gear during acceleration.
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Ford Fiesta ST3 start from €27,710 in base specification, which is similar to the latest Volkswagen Polo GTI. As standard, the ST3 is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, electric mirrors, a rear spoiler, Recaro performance seats, satellite navigation, keyless entry, a reversing camera and parking sensors, a leather sports steering wheel and various safety aids with traffic sign recognition.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
If you are looking for an exciting hot hatchback that is well suited to everyday driving and occasional forays on track, then the Ford Fiesta ST is one to shortlist. It excites from the driver seat, with a characterful turbocharged three-cylinder engine and surprising performance credentials for a car of its size. What’s more, the ST's cabin has improved with new touch screen tech and we are a big fan of those upgraded Recaro seats. That said, the Ford Fiesta ST isn’t best-suited to rough road surfaces, while some of its rivals boast higher quality interior materials and it demands a premium price tag with options fitted. That said, there are few other superminis on the market which are this fun to drive, and the Fiesta ST remains the most fun car to drive in its class by a considerable margin.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Ford Fiesta ST3
Prices from: €27,710
Price as tested: €29,100
Annual Motor Tax: €280
Engine: 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 6.3 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 292 litres
Mini Cooper S
Suzuki Swift Sport
Volkswagen Polo GTI